WOWEE ZOWEE (4)
January 24, 2018
One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the subject of our favorite albums of the Nineties (1994–2003). A new installment in this series will appear each Wednesday during 2018.
AMOR PROHIBIDO | SELENA | 1994
The silvery electronic synthesizers that open Selena’s Amor Prohibido usher listeners into a sweet, but not treacly aural landscape every bit as unpredictable as the South Texas coastal shores that gave birth to this singing goddess of conjunto tejano. The rest of the album is the stuff of memory, released just a few months before Selena’s assassination by her fan club president.
The album’s pièce de résistance, for me, is “Fotos y Recuerdos” — the Pretenders’ “Back on the Chain Gang” here subjected to Tex-Mex metamorphosis. What emerges is a conversation between an edgy precursor to alternative rock and South Texas Chicano rhythms — you had no choice but to dance to this mestizo magic. The song title transformation also foregrounds what the Pretenders’ title hides — this song is a paean to nostalgia and memory, facilitated by a photo.
Having recently moved to the West Coast from Connecticut, I heard Selena’s “Fotos y Recuerdos” on the radio as I bopped between Chula Vista and San Diego, San Ysidro and LA, in my old VW Rabbit. Here was a song that embodied what I have since come to call Xicanosmosis, where the tangy guitars and dangerous crooning of Hynde and her band was force-fused with a decidedly “Mexican” consciousness — I say “Mexican” not Mexican, since it came from within the United States.
Selena’s untimely death led to her short-term apotheosis onto the top of the music charts, but it also erased the possibility that her South Texas-born/borne sound would dominate the ear-space of the United States. When J-Lo (a New York Boriqua) was chosen to play Selena in the requisite biopic, the South Texas superstar died a second death — silenced and elided on the silver screen.
WOWEE ZOWEE: Stephanie Burt on UNISEX | Anindita Basu Sempere on UNDER THE PINK | Mark Kingwell on DUMMY | Bill Nericcio on AMOR PROHIBIDO | Sherri Wasserman on HIPS AND MAKERS | Mimi Lipson on THANK YOU | John Overholt on BEN FOLDS FIVE | Jordan Ellenberg on GET LOST | Chelsey Johnson on PERSONAL BEST | Marilyn Snell on MAXINQUAYE | Dan Fox on DIFFERENT CLASS | Devin McKinney on IF YOU’RE FEELING SINISTER | Alice Boone on MTV UNPLUGGED (ALICE IN CHAINS) | Rob Wringham on SPICE | Joe Alterio on BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE | Jason Loeffler on SECOND TOUGHEST IN THE INFANTS | Rick Pinchera on EITHER/OR | Josh Glenn on THE LONESOME CROWDED WEST | Jennifer Krasinski on SUPA DUPA FLY | Sara Ryan on DIG ME OUT | Luc Sante on MEZZANINE | Molly Wright Steenson on I CAN HEAR THE HEART BEATING AS ONE | Franklin Bruno on ENGLAND MADE ME | Michael Campochiaro on IS THIS DESIRE? | Adrienne Crew on CALIFORNICATION | Drew Daniel on I SEE A DARKNESS | Veda Hille on THE SOFT BULLETIN | Vanessa Berry on TEENAGE SNUFF FILM | Tom Kipp on GET SKINTIGHT | David Hirmes on DOPETHRONE | John Hilgart on YORK BLVD. | Deborah Wassertzug on JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT | Adam McGovern on INVINCIBLE SUMMER | Brian Berger on TIRED SOUNDS OF… | Michael Grasso on MUSIC HAS THE RIGHT TO CHILDREN | Jen Collins on HURRAH | Flourish Klink on THE TEACHES OF PEACHES | Judith Zissman on TALLAHASSEE | Lauren Oliver on SOUND-DUST | Jason Cohen on IS THIS IT | Matthew De Abaitua on THE RAINBOW CHILDREN | Jenny Davidson on TIME (THE REVELATOR) | Crystal Durant on LIVE THROUGH THIS | Gordon Dahlquist on GARBAGE | Erin M. Routson on WASHING MACHINE | Carl Wilson on TEMPTING | Jessamyn West on ALL HAIL WEST TEXAS | Kaleb Horton on STREETCORE | Tom Nealon on BAZOOKA TOOTH | Erik Davis on DOPESMOKER | David Levine on FEVER TO TELL | Deb Chachra on MASS ROMANTIC.
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