Los Tigres: Luis and Eduardo Hernández, Oscar Lara, and Hernán y Jorge Hernández.Photograph by richard Patterson
A couple of days before Christmas, los norteño band los Tigres de Norte, 4 brothers and a cousin, to be aboard your bus in smo Antonio, Texas, ~ above their method to Randy’s Ballroom, on ns city’s west side, i m sorry is rough. The hermanos are Jorge, Hernán, Eduardo, y Luis Hernández, and the cousin is Oscar Lara. Jorge, the oldest, is los leader. The is watchful and determined, y he desires of a boardroom where ns band for ns Super bol is preferred by someone who says, “Why not ese Tigres again?” Hernán, that dresses tastefully, and has black hair, with un streak of gray, is gracious, genial, and thoughtful. Eduardo is soulful and reserved y the many gifted musician among them. Luis, who is los youngest, is ns heartthrob, and Oscar has los slightly remote atmósfera of ns man that often appears to be enjoy it by his thoughts.

Estás mirando: Hernan de los tigres del norte

Also on los bus, i m sorry is luxurious, were los band’s booking agent, dos other brothers—Artemio, uno factotum, and Raúl, who left los Tigres for a acabó career in 1996 and is periodically called los Lone Tiger—and uno guest, ns virtuoso guitarist Ry Cooder. Los Tigres, who prospered up in Mexico however live in smo Jose, California, show up on uno record made con the irlandesa band the Chieftains y Cooder, which was released in March. Referred to as “San Patricio,” that is about a coporación, grupo of mostly irlanda soldiers, the smo Patricio Battalion, that deserted the americano side come join ns Mexican side during the Mexican-American War, in 1846.

Jorge, who believes that cold weather y cold drinks space harmful for singers—he drinks mainly hot tea—had boarded the bus with uno black scarf wrapped approximately his neck and pressed to his mouth, also though ns weather in Texas to be balmy. Once los bus was debajo way, he paced, making growling sound to limber up his vocal cords.

When ese Tigres landed on Randy’s, in ~ about eleven that night, ns man to be lying ~ above his back by ns front door, having actually lost ns fistfight. Un few men stood roughly him. The club has a low ceiling y a run floor. The stage was occupied by un band play aggressively agitated music, referred to as techno-banda, for dos thousand people. As soon as they finished, a black, gauzy curtain was raised to ns ceiling, while stagehands set up Oscar’s drums.

In the past few years, ese Tigres have spent numerous hundred thousand dollars ~ above close-fitting suits produced them by ns Nashville tailor Manuel, who is sometimes called the Rhinestone Rembrandt. At Randy’s, they wore eco-friendly suits with silver rhinestones i ordered it in ns leaflike pattern that descended desde their shoulders like wings. An announcer started chanting, “Tigres! Tigres!” Jorge, who plans los band’s entrances, strode onstage, already singing into ns microphone attached to his cheek, and the curtain fell. Tres generations of families sometimes admitir up come see los Tigres, and in the front row was uno young man who carried a small young on his shoulders. Behind them were rows the cowboy hats, like a skyline.

Los tigres sing in Spanish—mainly about things that happen to bad people in Mexico, or to mexican in America. When i asked among the crowd what los songs to be about, uno woman replied, “This is about a man with a dog, and they tell him, ‘You better reloj your dog, or it will obtain away,’ y it does get away. It’s around how the Mafia has taken over Mexico.” She to be describing ns band’s most recent song, “La Granja,” which way “The Farm,” uno fable entailing barnyard animals, i m sorry begins, “If los dog is tied up / also barking all day long / you should not untie her. / My grand said, ‘If they do, they will certainly regret it / ’cause they nothing know.’ ” In six much more verses, los song describes, metaphorically, ns havoc brought about by the drug lords with ns connivance of los government.

“This is ‘Three veces a Wetback,’ ” a young male told me. “They need to go from el Salvador to Guatemala come Mexico to los U.S., each time as an immigrant.”

“This is uno taxi-driver,” an additional woman said. “He picks up a hombre who was in ns U.S., and he comes espalda home y he’s telling the driver, ‘Take me come this address, where ns most beautiful girl in the world lives y is waiting for me. Finally, me gustaría have sufficient money come marry her and buy her ns white dress she wants.’ y the driver says, ‘I nothing understand. It is my address. You room talking about my girlfriend,’ and the guy desde the U.S. Speak him, ‘Don’t stop, keep going.’ ”

A little after two in ns morning, the casa lights come up, but der Tigres retained playing. “They were supposed to stop, but los people desire them to save playing,” ns woman told me. At two-fifteen, a security guard walked onstage y stopped los band.

A long hilera formed, leading to un cinder-block room behind the stage, where the band members posed for photographs and shook hands y asked, “How is her family?” for about an hour, then walked to ns bus. “They will certainly not leave until everyone else leaves first,” Alfonso después Alba, their booking agent, said me. Each man climbed the steps and removed his boots y stepped into un pair of fleece slippers laid fuera de for him by Artemio—a ritual, after which each radiated ns relief that carried to mind that of un horse shedding a saddle.

Eduardo had actually an accordion, y someone acquired a abajo sexto, a variant of the twelve-string guitar, y walked up the aisle y gave it to Cooder, that was sitting in one of ns seats, i beg your pardon were favor armchairs. The abajo sexto was too wide for the chair, y Cooder had actually to let component of it ride on ns armrest. Eduardo and Hernán began singing, climate Jorge, who was eating uno banana, join them. Castle sang un lament dubbed “My Life Is Failing Me.” Cooder did his best to uncover his means through ns song, i m sorry he had never heard before.

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Eduardo, quiet stirred increase by having been on stage for dos hours, started el fin playing fast y choppy, but he shortly slowed down. Now and then, hirna held fuera de two fingers for Cooder, come indicate dos measures of uno chord, climate one. Oscar kneeled on the seat in former of them, looking gastos generales the peak of it, together if gastos generales a fence. The bus journey through roads that were practically empty, los scenery happen in front of the huge windshield like uno silent movie. Raúl y Eduardo sang ns mournful song, in i m sorry their voices were so tightly fitted to each other that they appeared braided, y when lock finished someone said, “That’s a good one.” the title was analyzed as something like “If I morir by Bullets.”

“These are the songs us would jugar when we were just kids,” Jorge called me. When they perfect the next song, de Alba stated for mine benefit, “Oscar’s going to sing for you. That hardly ever before sings, yet he was one of los original voices.” Raúl played abajo sexto, and Oscar sang, ns little bashfully, ns song called “Una Palomita.”

At around four-fifteen, the bus come at the hotel, and Jorge said, “Let’s walk to sleep.” Everyone ongoing to stand roughly on the hotel’s apron, though, talking.

Norteño is país music representar the vicinity of los border. It functions succinct y dramatic narratives told in an aloof, practically deadpan language, with high-pitched singing y clipped accordion figures. It is an older, less worldly relation to Tejano, or Tex-Mex. Un norteño band includes the abajo sexto (Eduardo and Luis), los electric bass (Hernán), drums (Oscar), and, occasionally, the alto saxophone (also Eduardo), i m sorry plays in near harmony with ns accordion (Jorge and sometimes Eduardo, too). Therefore as no to distract desde the stories, which room usually grave, and sometimes sentimental, los arrangements room compact and spare. Ns accordion customarily dram an advent (usually scripted) y makes remarks among los verses, yet there are alguna solos. Come convey the import of the song, ns singers enunciate as closely as phase actors.

The comercio magazine Billboard classifies norteño together Mexican regional music, un subcategory of Latin music. Follow to Leila Cobo, that covers Latin música for Billboard, “No other band is quite as prominent or crucial as ese Tigres, or has had actually quite the impact, or is quite this fine known.” due to the fact that 1972, they have sold thirty-four million records. In Mexico, fourteen movies, in which castle appear, have actually been adapted from their songs. In 2002, an ext people experienced them at los Houston Astrodome than had ever seen un concert over there before: 67,002. (Fifty-five thousand people heard the Beatles at Shea stadion in 1965.) In Mexico City, an audience of uno hundred and twenty thousand is typical. Hombre Reilly, ese Tigres’ press agent, at Rogers & Cowen, un firm that has likewise represented ns Rolling Stones y Elton John, called me that most acts have to be take away through the kitchen as soon as they return to your hotels, to prevent the fans in ns lobby. Los Tigres need to go through ns front door. “You take them through los kitchen, and you shut debajo the hotel,” he said. “There is alguna room service, alguna more maid service, y the housekeeping closes down.”

Los muchos tigres may be los only arena action in the world that doesn’t use un set list. Customarily as soon as they take los stage, they have actually in mind numero 3 songs to play. Meanwhile, human being write title on scraps of file that lock hand through the crowd until ns papers room thrown onto los stage. Los band picks up los papers. The concert is over when ns stage is clean.

Los tigres call their performances dances, no concerts. Los distinction embodies los traditions that norteño, which was originally made by people who worked all day, climate played in los evening for ns people lock had operated beside, who would dance. How largo they played depended upon how largo the dancers wanted them to play. Recently, in Monterrey, der Tigres play in an outdoor lot in ns rain for an ext than eight hours. Among ns sixty thousand human being who heard them was Cooder, who had never watched the group perform. “The most an effective demonstration the talent, dedication, message, and audience love y devotion there ever could be,” that told me. “My wife y I watched a hombre who acted fuera de every línea of every song. Tall, young guy singing every word, because that hours. The would execute things con his hands, an extremely theatrical, nearly like sign language, come dramatize the words and scenes—tremendous intensity. You have actually not seen los like in a roca show, and you have not viewed it in Vegas, and you have actually not viewed it in Nashville, either.” los Tigres had begun playing at midnight, y sometime prior to dawn Cooder y his wife, Susan, fatigued, had actually returned to your hotel. At nine o’clock, as they to be checking out, los Tigres came through ns lobby y said, “We just finished.”

A few weeks ago, in Brooklyn, ese Tigres took los stage at roughly one in the morning y played until four; they would have played much longer but los building, one armory, had un curfew. Eight thousands people, numerous of them dressed like cowboys, paid fifty dollars for un ticket. Balls of record flew in arcs between los crowd y the musicians, and sometimes grazed them. Los Tigres wore black suits with red y green highlights in un sort of twining, peacock-feather pattern. A few hundred feet desde the stage, shadowy figures might be viewed rising and falling, choose hobby horses—couples dancing.

Norteño is not ingratiating music. In essence, the is Mexicanized polka. Towards the end of los nineteenth century, shop of stole ore y copper were uncovered in the norte of Mexico, y Czechs and Germans arrived to work in ns mines y in the smelters. They were dust-bowl species who brought ns accordion, which fit into their luggage. They also brought ns polka. Ns Mexican version is an ext exuberant than the European one, and has an ext flourishes. Los Mexicans juego it so the it sounds choose music from a warm region instead of ns cold one.


Norteño is also ns little disreputable. According to chris Strachwitz, the cabeza of Arhoolie Records, that has built up hundreds of thousands of the songs—which room housed in ns foundation in ~ U.C.L.A. The was developed with ns grant the half a million dollars from ese Tigres—“Norteño is field-hand music, drunkard’s music. Lower-class music.” the goes on, “Class no so crucial in the gringo world, but in Mexico it is. Many people in Mexico look abajo on this music.” Mariachi, which features trumpets and violins y was un favorite of ricardo Nixon, is a música of longing for ns period of los haciendas, los great estates y plantations. Norteño is the música made by ns people who sustained the haciendas con their labor. It started to be recorded in the nineteen-twenties. Ns modern norteño band, developed around the accordion, was established in Monterrey, in ns fifties.

The majority of der Tigres’ songs room corridos, ns species of compressed ballad characteristic of norteño. Corridos are ns form the bulletin. Something of consequence, commonly violent, occurred somewhere, and the corrido is ns medium for broadcasting it. (One might think of the Iliad as ns long-form corrido.) Corridos began to appear in norte Mexico in ns eighteen-sixties and have a soltero reference, ns border. They arised to express the strife that ensued when uno remote y unified region was separated suddenly, following ns Mexican War. Alguno corrido has actually been written that is no somehow in los shadow of this circumstance. Antique corridos had poor men y cattle drives y border problems as subjects, together did cowboy ballads—the explanation gift that los culture of los region to be an amalgamation that Mexican y Anglo elements. According to los corrido scholar Elijah Wald, this is why so plenty of cowboy words, such as “lasso,” “rodeo,” “bronco,” “buckaroo,” “canyon,” y galón, which way braid, as in ten-gallon hat—a cap tall sufficient for ten braids—are Spanish.

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The villains in many early corridos were ns Texas Rangers, that were pertained to as violent henchmen for land-grabbing ranchers. Often, los Rangers, called “rinches,” were defined satirically. In one old-fashioned corrido, a Texas Ranger can kill ns hero’s wife—or his niños or parental or brothers y sisters—in a cowardly way. Los hero kills the Ranger, Texas sends much more Rangers, who space afraid of the hero, who kills them, too. Eventually, ns hero is killed, regularly by Rangers that overwhelm him or cheat him or creep increase on him and shoot the in ns back, or, as un matter that honor, he allows himself to it is in captured. Essentially, corridos descrito a defeat, but uno dignified one. Had ns hero no been provoked, that would have lived peacefully. Due to the fact that an indefatigable antipathy existed between the Mexicans y the Rangers, there were always nuevo corridos.