A couple of days ago I shared a video on the Mexico Retold Facebook page. It was the Playing for Change version of Mexico Lindo y Querido (Beautiful and Beloved Mexico) that was made by bringing together Mexican musicians from all over the country to sing this iconic song, which some call the second national anthem of Mexico.
I personally cannot listen to it without crying; it brings up such feelings of patriotism and pride, even though by birth I am not Mexican. This particular version is extra special because so many forms of Mexican music are shown and it truly highlights the beauty and diversity in Mexico making the pride even greater.
I wanted to find out a little more about the song and its history, so I did a little digging. The song was written by a songwriter and poet, Chucho (the nickname used for people called Jesus) Monge. Described as a pale-faced man from Morelia, Monge was the author of over 600 compositions. The song was made famous however, by the iconic singer and actor Jorge Negrete, from Guanajuato, who sings it like a serenade to his beloved country. Mexico is famous for its nighttime serenades from men to women. The women traditionally would just peep from behind the curtain to watch the scene. Nowadays they still exist and recently whilst in Mexico City I heard a neighbour receive an hour-long serenade of pop classics at 4am, whilst she danced at the window! It seems fitting then that one of the most iconic songs takes this form.
Here is Negrete’s version complete with sombreros and moustaches. Fantastic!
The words in the song that stand out most to me are:
si muero lejos de ti
que digan que estoy dormido
y que me traigan aquí
If I die far from you
Tell them I am sleeping
And bring me back here
I was therefore interested in read that Jorge Negrete died in Los Angeles. How sad I thought, that his wish wasn’t granted. Then I discovered that his body was returned to Mexico and greeted by 10,000 people upon arrival at Mexico City airport!
When I hear the words I can’t also help but think about the reality for a great number of Mexican’s who are living outside of Mexico (many not through choice but necessity) to whom these words will touch very deeply.
And here is Playing for Change version of the song, can you watch it without welling up?
Susannah Rigg is a freelance writer and Mexico specialist. Her work has been featured in Condé Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, BBC Travel, The Independent UK, Afar and The New Worlder among others. Check out her portfolio here. Contact Susannah by email, info [at] mexicoretold [dot] com and join her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.