The 10 Best Songs of Ramon Ayala, Conjunto Norteño Legend and Accordion Hero
4. "Bonita Finca de Adobe"
Ayala's most famous pastoral and opening accordion riff, "Pretty Adobe Home" is an ode to--yes--his pretty adobe home, more specifically a man talking to his home about taking care of his wife and the loves within. And if it doesn't? "You, her, and the cheating man/I'll burn down with fresh wood." Yes, us Mexicans are weird like that.
3. "Ya No Llores"
50 years ago, "Don't Cry Anymore" was the song that made Ayala and Reyna famous, that thundered out of radios like their name and that initial breathless rush of the duo in the song, then still teenagers revolutionizing Mexican music. Back then, norteño was the domain of cantinas and households; afterwards, it would become part of the great Mexican songbook. Even early on, Ayala's mastery of the accordion just wowed, and the template for all future Ayala songs was set: just an accordion, a bajo sexto, lurking drums, and the metronomic bass. This is one of the few Relámpagos songs that Ayala continues to trot out to this day--hey, maybe I should do a list of just Relámpagos songs...
2. "Tragos Amargos"
My Tex-Mex friends say this is the song that ends all of their parties, and it's a great concluding dirge: a bitter, painfully slow waltz announcing to the world a man's sadness because of a woman, and his immediate rectification of said situation by "Bitter Gulps" of booze.
1. "Un Puño de Tierra"
Okay, everyone else in the world will say "Tragos Amargos" is Ayala's best song, and I don't necessarily disagree--but this is my list, damnit, and this is my favorite Ayala song because it's one of my favorite songs, period. First made famous by Antonio Aguilar, this is a Sartrean examination of life, with the beautifully existential chorus--and I'm not even going to print the Spanish original, since all Mexis know it by heart--"The day that I die/I'm not going to take anything/Let's give joy to joy/Life ends quickly/What happened in this world/Only the memories remain/Once dead, I'm going to take/Only a fistful of dirt." GANGSTA!!! And yet it's wholly an Ayala take--more a humble acceptance of life than Aguilar's defiant tone. This one will be played for sure, so buy your tickets now and check out the legend this weekend. And expect a review on Monday...