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Monday, April 13, 2009

Radio Rey. La Ley!*

My father listens to Spanish-speaking radio.

He doesn’t speak Spanish.

He’s been doing this for quite a while now. He likes the sound of it, and he doesn’t have to endure the opinions of deejays.

He’s been doing this since I was little. It’s a tribute to our ability to be distracted that neither one of us understand much of it. Seriously. My understanding of Spanish (in the Mexican-sense of Spanish, and I am aware that there are differences but I couldn’t tell you what they are) comes from Speedy Gonzalez cartoons (Andale! Andale! Arriba! Arriba!) and the telephone (para Espanol, marco dos**).

The music, though?

It’s the accordions. I've got an affection for the accordions.

My father and I have the dubious distinction of having both played, as teenagers, in bands with accordions in them - in his case a three-piece playing standards in Minnesota and Wisconsin for pennies in the ‘50s and in my case a band that swelled from three to 12 depending on what the ballroom would pay, doing “Old Time”: polkas, schottisches, mazurkas, waltzes, foxtrots, standards and a hypnotic “rock” medley consisting of “Johnny B Good”, “Maybellene”, “Kaw-Liga” and ending with a ripping version of “Woodchopper’s Ball”.

You were allowed to bring your own booze.

Wait a minute. Where was I?

Oh, yes.

I’ve found myself experimenting recently with Mexican radio.

Radio Rey (La Ley) Minneapolis, on the left end of the AM dial. I can’t understand a word of it.

And why would I want to? I’m just here for the music, right?: accordion, guitar, trumpet, tuba, drums. Cultural music, ethnic music.

Funny how close it is to the polka.


* The Law!
** For Spanish, press “two”.

37 comments:

underOvr (aka The U) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
underOvr (aka The U) said...

Hi Pearl,

I too have an interest in Spanish...mine is born from DNA information on my acestors originating from Angola.

I don't know if I'll ever go to that part of the world but I like that I can speak some Spanish and I enjoy traveling to parts of central America.

U

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

OMG, we're like, twins!! I had an accordion too! And I love Spanish music. Can't get any Spanish radio stations here, though. Only francais, and those, I don't like.

erin said...

I used to listen to a local polka station while cleaning. The accordion is extremely motivating.

Jess said...

Cervazas. That is all I need to know. Actually, make is dos cervazas.

Ria~ said...

The boy actually loves spanish music. There is this one channel he turns to where I swear every show is a party with music and he sits and listens (did I mention he's only 5 and I have no idea where he got this from). I'm sure he doesn't know what they are saying, but then again he might be learning the language from the neighbors.

Sweet Cheeks said...

Peggles, This is going to sound weird...

When I was really sick, I was flipping through the cannels on the TV. Nothing was on...so I stopped on a Spanish channel.

It was a Saturday evening and I watched a funny Spanish show...It was Sabado Gigante (Which I think means Big Saturday)

Anyway...I watched the whole thing...It was like a games show sort of...and I laughed through it all, not understanding a word of it.

So ever since then I seriously tune in on a Saturday evening if I'm bumming around the house and Mr. Cheeks and I raise our arms up in the air and yell out loud at the top of our lungs..."SABADO GIGANTE!!!" when it comes on...

The kids think we're freaks.

I told you...we're strange folks over here in Idaho...
:)

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I must admit, mariachi music is great. I find myself enjoying it whenever I'm in a Mexican restaurant. I don't know if I can listen to Spanish radio, however, because I'd try to figure out what they're saying (based off my knowledge of Latin and French), and then I'd get in a wreck or run over someone's dog or something, and I doubt "I was listening to Spanish radio" will hold up in a court of law.

And, isn't "radio rey" like "King Radio" or something?

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

you're on a 'daddy' roll now! It really exciting and wonderful to read about your dad! You are really close to him!

The Retired One said...

I always thought that Cajun music sounded a little bit like polka too.
You can't grow up in the U.P. going to all those wedding receptions without hearing polkas....
I don't want her, you can have her, she's too fat for me!!..
In heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here....
Good God, I took my kids.
Is that child abuse???

The Retirement Chronicles

Susan said...

Thank you! I've had my education for today. Now that I've learned two Spanish words, I think I should take a nap.

Jeanne said...

I frequently point out to Old Dog how close Celtic music is to bluegrass (he's a fan of the second, but not the first), but I'd never considered the similarities between polka music and Hispanic.

Kavi said...

Accordian..! Now, i am trying hard when i had seen one in real life. Its been a long time i guess... long time !

ladyfi said...

I love Spanish and Spanish music! Heck - I can even understand some of it too...

powdergirl said...

Hey, I think listening to the radio in a language you can't understand is a great way to hang on to your sanity.
It's not like the news is ever good, and the music is universal anyway, think I'll give it a try! Mucho gusto.

troutay said...

Well......
There is a connection. German emigrants brought it in to Texas, etc and it was picked up by the "locals" and turned into their own.

So you are right. They do sound like Polkas because that is what they are based on.

Ian Lidster said...

I like you father's wisdom about this and tunng out the deejays. I really liked Mexican music until I went to Mexico. At the end of the stay I said to my wife of the day (damn, what was her name?) that if I hear another mariachi band I'm going to go postal.

Vic said...

So THAT's what Speedy was running from.
Are you a Ranchero fan? Not the eggs, the music. ;)

Greenfingers said...

The accordion is such an old traditional, Irish instrument to!

Louise said...

My four-year-old son discovered my old shortwave radio in the back of a cupboard recently (he was looking for Easter Eggs), and he asked me where you put the DVD...I'm a BBC Radio 4 addict myself (digital via the Internet). Keeps me sane when all around me is chaos Italian-style.

De Campo said...

Have you ever played the Mexican music game? Next time the gang is all gathered around drinking coronas, start placing bets on how many seconds it takes for the accordions to kick in the song.

I need more accordions in my life.

Ann's Rants said...

Now you're making me all nostalgic for "SABADO GIGANTE" back when we had cable in Chicago.

ICKY said...

I hear the rhythms of the music
I buy the product and never use it
I hear the talking of the DJ
(Can't understand, just what does he say?)

I'm on a Mexican radio
I'm on a Mexican woh-oh radio

I dial it in and tune the station
They talk about the U.S. inflation
I understand just a little
No comprende, it's a riddle

I'm on a Mexican radio
I'm on a Mexican whoa-oh radio

I wish I was in Tijuana
Eating barbecued iguana
I'd take requests on the telephone
I'm on a wavelength far from my home

I'm on a Mexican radio
I'm on a Mexican whoa-oh radio

SweetPeaSurry said...

I can hardly stand listening to radio stations these days. I'm not an avid music listener anyway. I'd probably go nuts listening to mexican radio. (busts out in the 80's mexican radio song)

You're a better woman than I!

troutay said...

actually, the accordion was invented by the chinese.

Sweet Cheeks said...

Icky!

Did you watch VH1's One Hit Wonders yesterday?

They totally played that song and we were singing it!

(And Anne...I love that Sabado Gigante...You Tube it!!!)
:)

Michelle said...

I need to ask Pearly-Q what the heck is schottisches??

Eskimo Bob said...

I didn't realize the accordion was so huge in the midwest. When I was in Winona I found an old flyer to the local accordion orchestra concert.

Secondly - the boys love to watch their movies with the spanish subtitles, even though none of us know how to speak it.

I don't even know how to write spanish - that's why I spell phonetically 'Ohla'.

Ahdeos.

lizspin said...

Okay. . . I'm not sure I relate to this post. . . I do not speak spanish. . .nor listen to spanish. . .nor play the accordian. . . nor did my father play the accordian. . . nor do I know what a mazurka or schottisch is. . .

But I do recognize Arriba! Arriba! and I always bring my own booze!

Pearl said...

U, knowing another language is a wonderful thing. I know enough French to get around, but my English is excellent.

Mary, what bugs you about the French stations?

Erin, the accordion is guaranteed to get you moving – either to dance or to get away!

Jess, that’s dos cerveza, por favor. Arriba!

Ria, nowadays, I would recommend ALL the little boys (and girls) learn Spanish. There are a lot more South American immigrants than when I was a kid.
Actually, the Hmongs came to Minnesota when I was a teenager, and I didn’t learn any Hmong, so maybe it doesn’t really matter.
Unless you work in a kitchen. Spanish is THE language of the restaurant kitchen.

Sweet Cheeks, I can see this! I can see you yelling SABADO GIGANTE! We have that show here, too; but I’ve never checked it out. Now, I will have to…

iNDefatigable, you, sir, are correct. Radio Rey is the king of radio (and, apparently, the law).
I envy you your knowledge of Latin, btw, and stop by your blog to pick up the sentence of the week. I’ve yet to use any of it, but so help me I’m looking for the opportunity…

Roshni, I admire my father. And my mother. They had such a rough time in the early part of their marriage (things outside of their control) and they are still married. It will be 50 years in November!

Susan, you have to be careful about learning! I make sure to stop and go limp – wherever I am – when something new comes up. I can work my brain or my body, rarely in tandem.

Jeanne, I agree with you re: Celtic and bluegrass. Now where did the bluegrass folk come from? Was it the Irish that settled the Appalachians, came up with bluegrass?

Kavi, now is the time for you to Google accordion and spend some time with a polka. It will make you smile.

Ladyfi, I envy people with more than one language under their belt. I don’t know if it’s a U.S. thing or just a Minnesota thing, but I know few native Americans (not Native Americans) whose families have been here more than two generations that know anything but English (American).

Troutay, are you kidding me?! I didn’t know that!
I have to admit that I’m laughing right now! Way to point out the obvious, Pearl!!!!

Ian, yes, there’s a lot of Mariachi out there – and if you’re in Mexico, the finale includes your wallet. I’m primarily into the folk-y, polka-like music. Music with tubas in it? That’s just too cool.

Vic, Ranchero? Is that a band? No, I haven’t heard of them, but now I have to look them up. (Oooh, and Huevos Rancheros? Yes, please!)

Greenfingers, oh, Irish music. U mentioned up top here about his affinity for Spanish, perhaps due to his Angolan ancestry. Me, I’m an American mutt with ties to Ireland, Scotland, and Czechoslavakia and am drawn to the music, especially the more “tribal” sounding music of those three places.

Louise, the internet has made the world smaller, don’t you think? And I’m okay with that. (And I love the BBC – so very, very different than U.S. stations…)

De Campo, we play the South American version, where one part of the party plots to overtake the other and still their beer.

Ann, I have to get over to your blog and see how things are going after the move. I’ve been neglectful…
Oh, and SABADO GIGANTE!! Might be time for “Mexican” night at the house??

Icky, you weirdo. That made me smile!

SweetPea, I love music, grew up surrounded by it and still try to keep up with new bands. My mother’s never really cared one way or another, it seems…
(And now I’ve got the Mexican radio song in my head…)

Troutay, I don’t doubt that. Any group that comes up with pasta and fireworks? The accordion can’t be far behind!

Michelle, the schottische is a dance. I’ll stop by and show you!

Eskimo Bob, I blame the Germans!
I watch movies with the French subtitles on. Makes me feel classy.

Lizspin, you bring your booze? You can come sit next to me…

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

And menana es uno ultra dia mas, Lady...

Love the tunes--precisely because no messy Word Interpretation needs be utilized...

GutsyWriter said...

You must be fluent soon if you listen to it. I should start as I really want to learn to speak Spanish.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Tu parlez un peu de la Francaise, Pearl? I KNEW je te le aim, je t'aim, le Pearlie je t'aim...

nsiyer said...

I love Spanish especially the sound of the language. My all time favourite is Tennis star Gabriela Sabatini, more for her looks than her tennis.

fingers said...

I think you'll find that Minnesota and Wisconsin were the only two states in which playing the accordion was still legal at the time.
Certainly not good taste...but legal all the same...

♥ Braja said...

Speedy Gonzalez and polka in the one post??? WOOT :))

Pearl said...

Gutsy Writer, you'd think so, wouldn't you?!

Cygnus, oui! Un peu. Et je ressemble un Americaine hmmmm comme je parle.
Il aide se je bois. :-)

nsiyer, I suspect you are not alone in that!

fingers, when accordions are outlawed, only outlaws will have accordions...

Braja, I aims to please, missy!