The 20 Greatest Vicente Fernandez Songs of All Time, Nos. 20-11
|Vicente Fernández's Facebook page--yes, he has one|
|El Rey, at Rest|
Don't pay attention to the prophecies of St. Malachy: The world isn't ending because the next pope's name will be Petrus Romanus; it's ending because Vicente Fernández is retiring. The most Mexican Mexican of all time is ending his public performances this year, and his farewell tour is swinging through Los Angeles next week (hopefully, he'll sneak in a Honda Center appearance before the man everyone knows as Chente finally calls it a career). And even if you don't know Spanish, you MUST catch one of his live shows, as he's the best performer since James Brown, getting drunk live and walking around the stage in his splendid charro outfit with a pistol in his holster--YEAH!
The ranchera legend is one of two Mexicans gabachos know as a Mexican archetype of manhood (Ramón Ayala and his tejana, chubby cheeks and Mexi-mullet is the other): his bushy eyebrows, bushier hair, bushiest mustache, gargantuan sombrero, and a larynx so testoster-rific it reduces every man who listens to a weeping wuss. A titan of Mexican music, Chente's songs are not just standards, but required insights into the Mexican psyche. Fans can no longer separate the artist from the myth, meaning that they can't truly appreciate his career while howling through the tears at the umpteenth rendition of "Volver, Volver." And, really, he's worthy of the hype.
So to put Chente in his proper place, behold not just a Top 10 list, but a Top 20--yes, the man deserves that much. And before the fanboys start howling about my choices--remember that his Top 10 is to come TOMORROW. Save the hate for then, but do chime in!
20. "El Tapatio"
This song is an example is one of my favorite lyrical genres: the provincial boast, the prideful proclamation of being from a city or state. In this case, Chente sings of his pride of being from the state of Jalisco, birthplace of mariachi and tequila, with shout-outs to Los Altos, the geographic region from whence the two essential parts of Mexican society originated. It's a beautiful, soaring song with flutes, a rarity in ranchera music--so why the low-ish placement here? Because I'm a zacatecano and people from Jalisco are our eternal rivals, haha. Featuring a great vocal flourish in the end.
19. "Hermoso Cariño"
I hate to say it, but esta canción, while muy popular with the Chente crowd, is rather formulaic. The more I hear it, the less remarkable it is when compared to his other tunes--and it sounds like a slightly faster version of "Ingrato Amor," down to the arpeggio'ed acoustic guitar and repetition of the title. Pretty song, but it pales next to the others on this list.
18. "La Diferencia"
Chente's ultimate wuss song--'nuff said. But it works to get the ladies. Check out the video!