Music is on my mind. I seem to sing often at work lately, and not because I like to whistle while I work, but because many little things set off a song in my mind.
One day one of my students was singing a song by one of my old favorite music groups, Los Tigrillos. “Ay Esther, ay Esther,” she was humming.
Naturally, I finished the verse for her. “Tiene las piernotas como Lucifer.” In translation, “She has huge legs like Lucifer.”
A cumbia is a shake-your-wagon kind of mix between salsa and Colombian and/or Mexican music.
They laughed. They were surprised that I knew the lyrics because I am not fluent in Spanish. I have trouble conjugating my verbs.
I don’t seem to have trouble memorizing song lyrics in Spanish though, perhaps because my dad has been a lifelong musico who can get down on the bajo sexto.
After this, another silly song came to my mind, this time by an old Tejano singer, Eddie Torrez.
“Have yall heard this song?” I asked, “‘Ay tu, Maria Cantu, se lava los dientes con shampoo?”
It is a silly song about a woman who washes her teeth with shampoo.
I remember when I was young and my Grandpa Chico would play his Ramon Ayala albums in Lubbock.
My sisters and I didn’t like the music at first. We didn’t understand it. But slowly, it became catchy.
And then one summer my sister Becky and I worked in the cottonfields to make extra money with my friend.
Her brothers were singing all day as we went up and down the rows, “Ay que lastima, ay que lastina, ay que lastima, me da ver a margarita ….”
Becky and I were like, “That sounds like a song Dad plays” and so that night we told my dad about the song and then Dad pulls out his Little Joe album. I became a Little Joe fan.
The music of our parents is sometimes not cool, but when it is, it grow on us.
Helena Rodriguez is a Portales native. Contact her at: