The Economist Does a Story on Why Mexicans Love Morrissey

Yes, The Economist. The story is called “Girlfriend in a Conga.”

THE lugubrious strains of “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” waft across a sunny beach in Acapulco. If that song in that setting surprises you, then you do not know about the strange affinity between Mexicans and Morrissey, the morbid, underdog-loving front-man of The Smiths, a British band of the 1980s, who then went solo.

In Mexico City a band called Mexrrissey is hard at work recording an album of his songs in styles ranging from trumpet-blaring mariachi to throbbing norteño. Its creator, disc jockey Camilo Lara, calls it “Girlfriend in a Conga”, a play on one of The Smiths’ wickedest songs (which puts the girlfriend in a coma). It’s not a tribute album. Morrissey’s lyrics, dripping with black humour, are translated into the mischievous Spanish of Mexico City. Morrissey’s “First of the Gang to Die”, about a murdered gangster, fades out in its Mexican version with ay güey, pobre güey (“hey dude, poor dude”)

Mr Lara says the bitter melodrama of Morrissey’s poetry strikes a chord in Mexico, where even in soap operas the poor make it up the social ladder only through lies and deceit. In Mexican street music, the exuberant melodies overlie bleakly funny lyrics about loneliness, depression and self-pity. The jubilant trumpets, like Johnny Marr’s guitar in The Smiths’ heyday, can strike hammer blows to the heart. Among Chicanos in the United States, Morrissey fandom is even more intense.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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