I Steel Them From You!

10 Mexican-bashing songs from the rock & roll canon

If you're a P.C. warrior, then stay far away from the Galaxy Concert Theater this Cinco de Mayo, where OC's O.G. punk veteranosManic Hispanic will ese a good hour of the most stereotypical tunes since the days of minstrelsy. In their defense, the septet's act is tongue-in-cheek and retre-hilarious. But even funnier in an Amos 'n Andykinda way are the following 10 songs, all examples of Mexican-bashing at its most melodically moronic.

The Kingston Trio, "Coplas"

There's really no rationale to this arriba-arriba recording, first performed by folkie pioneers the Kingston Trio in 1959. A Mexican peon asks an American in English and Spanish if he should pick green peppers, warns travelers to "not muddy the waters" since the town drinks from it, and ends with a sleepless groom bemoaning that he spent "the whole night chasing a cat that had come in over the balcony." Yeah, we think they're referring to a different kind of pussy, también.

Location Info


The Observatory

3503 S. Harbor Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92704

Category: Music Venues

Region: Santa Ana

Loco lyric: "Ah, so! You are surprised I speak your language/You see, I was educated in your country/At UCRA." Various artists, "Little LaTin Lupe Lu"

A groovy garage growl covered by groups ranging from Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels to the Kingsmen to even Bruce Springsteen. Locally, the Righteous Brothers went platinum with their 1963 version of it. While "Little Latin Lupe Lu" isn't inherently offensive--a guy boasts that his Mexican girlfriend is the best dancer around--the Righteous Brothers' rendition becomes suspect when you consider that the late Bobby Hatfield reputedly never visited his alma mater, Anaheim High School, in his later years because, by then, too many Mexicans--like myself--attended the school.

Loco lyric: "She's the best for miles around/She's my pretty little baby/Whoa--little Latin Lupe Lu." Pat Boone, "Speedy González"

With this 1963 novelty recording, Boone proved that blacks weren't the only minorities from which he could profit. Here, the King of Honky R&B assumes the identity of an American tourist who "walked alone past some old adobe haciendas" during "a moonlight night in old Mexico." Boone made no reference to the Warner Bros. cartoon star of the same name, but he did reference the mouse's refried take on life in spinning a yarn about a philandering, lazy, drunken Mexican man and his long-suffering wife.

Loco lyric: "Hey, Rosita, come quick/Down at the cantina, they're giving green stamps with tequila." Jay & the Americans, "Come a Little Bit Closer"

Name the Mexican stereotype, this 1964 release lauds it--in the first stanza. Roy Orbison pretender Jay Black praises the American playground that is Tijuana ("In a little café just the other side of the border") and its hoochie-coochie mamas ("She was just sitting there, giving me looks that make my mouth water") while warning virile white bucks of macho men named José. When José challenges Jay to a duel, Jay runs away like George W. Bush from a two-part question. When the spicy señorita coos to Jose that she wants him to come a little bit closer, she confirms what we've always known about Mexican women: they're non-discriminatory whores . . . but nice.

Loco lyric: You mean you want more? Call KRTH-FM 101.1--they spin the track about every pinchehour. Frito-Lays, "The Frito Bandito Song"

Before there was the Taco Bell Chihuahua, there was the Frito Bandito, a crudely drawn Mexican that was little more than a sombrero, mustache, gold tooth and bandolier. While the image itself enraged many Chicanos during the character's late-1960s introduction, what was probably more infuriating to them was the Bandito's trademark song--sung by Mel Blanc in heavily accented English to the tune of the mariachi standard "Cielito Lindo." The Frito-Lay Corp. vowed to use the character forever, but the Bandito mysteriously disappeared after 1971. Perhaps it was because television stations like KNBC-TV Channel 4 refused to run the ads out of disgust?

Loco lyrics: "Ay-yi-yi-yi/I am the Frito Bandito/I love Fritos corn chips/I love them, I do/I love Fritos corn chips/I steelthem from you!" John Wayne, "Mis Raíces Están Aquí"

You remember John Wayne: American icon, expensive airport, hideous bronze statue. Now remember John Wayne, recording star. In 1973, Wayne released America, Why I Love Her, 10 spoken-word paeans to Old Glory and its inhabitants that finds a wheezing Wayne railing against multiculturalism, Vietnam War opponents and feminists. Worst of the selections is "Mis Raíces Están Aquí ("My Roots are Here"), on which Wayne recounts visiting a destitute "viejo caballero" in the Southwest. "For hundreds of years, people with the blood of the Aztecs in their veins have lived and died on that harsh yet beautiful land," Wayne wrote in the accompanying book, "and names like El Paso, Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Santa Fe, Del Rio and Nogales are perpetual monuments to their being there." Wayne strangely doesn't mention how Mexican-mowing flicks like The Alamo, The Searchersand The Undefeated were his personal monuments to their being there.

Loco lyric: "'I have nothing for you, señores,' he said. 'My hacienda's empty now/There was a time . . .' He shook his head and gave a gentle bow." Cheech and Chong, "Mexican-American"

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