"Yo le cantó a la Bamba/Yo le cantó a la Bamba porqué se que es el himno/Porque se que es el himno de Veracruz y arriba y arriba!" (I sing to the Bamba/I sing to the Bamba because I know it's the hymn/Because I know it's the hymn of Veracruz and faster and faster!)
An onrush of jaranas and quijanas and singing and tapping became like a living thing that absorbed the dimly lit parking lot. The crowd tapped their feet, drummed their fingers on any flat surface. Some joined the dancers on the tarima and stomped; others grabbed jaranas and clumsily jammed.
The happiest man in the world. Photo by Zach Cordner
Are you with Son Del Centro? Photo by John Gilhooley
It was "La Bamba" as it should be: unique yet the same, and still relevant. Son del Centro slowed only enough to allow each member to improvise a new lyric. Each did so effortlessly, mixing jokes and puns while keeping a frenetic, hypnotic pace.
Near the end came the climax—not the "bamba, bamba" muttered by too many musicians, but the following decima:
"Le cantamos a la Bamba para que vea que somos de la gente/Que somos de la gente presevando cultura/Presevando cultura pa' que no se los muera/Pa' que no se los muera le hechamos ganas aquí en SanTana" (We sing "La Bamba" so it can be seen we're of the people/That we're of the people preserving culture/Preserving culture so it won't die/So it won't die, we try hard here in SanTana).
The crowd roared; Son del Centro played faster and faster. And all the while, de la Rocha smiled like the happiest man on Earth, a man at peace.
To hear tracks from Son del Centro's Mi Jarana es mi Fusil, click here.