Every now and then while living in Mexico, you experience potentially divisive moments, like when someone reminds you of the Bush presidencies or that you have to be 21 to drink alcohol in the U.S. but only 18 to buy a gun (all the while explaining why Americans think their country is safer than Mexico).
One area where you can always find common ground with Mexicans is in music. You may have more opportunities to hear “your” music played live in Mexico than you do in the U.S.
Live bands and orchestras are ubiquitous and cover charges rare. Over the course of a month, you might hear guitarists and vocalists expertly covering Led Zeppelin, like I did last week at a popular restaurant bar nearby.
Or you might hear an orchestra playing Queen and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at free concerts in any of the plazuelas common to Mexico’s historic neighborhoods. Your Mexican friends might even surprise you with a few Michael Jackson dance moves like mine did.
Many of them will share your familiarity with Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and Aerosmith’s “Toys in the Attic.” You will meet cab drivers who love The BeeGees and hear mariachis who can reasonably croon John Lennon's “Imagine.”
Mexicans particularly love heavy, guitar-driven sounds immortalized by British and American bands in the ‘70’s.
As a college student, for a whole semester I believed the slamming door effect of Led Zeppelin’s “In the Evening” was the world's best alarm clock. To hear an amazing rendition of that song while enjoying some marlin tacos and a cold Pacifico at a bar in Mexico is a perfect combination of then and now.
Whereas in America you rarely hear a song not in English no matter how good, Mexico knows a good beat when she hears it and does not discriminate.
Even lyric-heavy hip-hop artists like Eminem get wide play. Be prepared though for the uncut version of rap songs, since most Mexicans cannot translate the English. Listening to Lil Wayne’s opinions on sex while you’re paying for something in a store can make you lose count of your change.
What a shame we can’t be as open-minded and introduce the most popular of foreign music into our American cities’ playlists.
According to Spotify, the most loyal listeners out there are fans of either heavy metal music or Mexican fans of Mexico's regional music, such as mariachi, maraca, and vihuela.
A number of Latin American Spanish accents have a cadence similar to English. You may not realize they're in Spanish at first, like songs by Soda Stereo and many alternative bands from the 80’s and 90’s. I can't say I've fallen in love with regional music yet, but there are plenty of Spanish-language songs and bands I love.
I don’t know a single song from my grandparents age, do you? Music in America represents constant generational rebellion. Music distances teenagers from their parents.
In Mexico, if you go to a public concert or operatic theater, you will hear people of all ages singing along to songs that can go as far back as the 30’s, bringing all the generations together again - at least for a song.
Related Link: Music transcends language and here are a few great Spanish language songs you'll enjoy even without understanding the words. Ventanas Mexico
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About the author, Kerry Baker
I'm a a partner with Ventanas Mexico which provides insight and resources to people considering expat life in Mexico,including "If Only I Had a Place" on renting for aspiring expats.
I also wrote the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," a curation of the best Spanish language tools on the web with links and lesson plans. Learning Spanish is absolutely necessary to get the most out of the expat experience. Get started today!