US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Tin Can Trust

By Danny Duncan Collum | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Los Lobos (Shout Factory!, 2010)

Former Secretary of Labor Linda Chavez, among others, has argued that current levels of immigration from Mexico are somehow dangerous to the integrity of American culture. Obviously she has not been hanging with Los Lobos. These guys from East L.A. are the most American band since The Band (most of whom were Canadian). They have perfected a blend of Mexican rhythms and flavors with the blues, country, and garage-band roots that feed the soul of these United States.

Los Lobos is also a Chicano band. In their early days they put aside rock and roll for a while, learned traditional Mexican acoustic instruments, and spent their weekends playing weddings, block parties, and quinceañeras. Their first album, released in 1976, was a benefit project for the United Farmworkers called Si Se Puede! (you can still buy it at Then they returned to rock and roll on their own terms as Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles, or Just Another Band from East L.A. For the past 30 years their recordings have mixed American and Mexican roots music with Spanish and English lyrics, which becomes one big sound for one very big country.

Tin Can Trust is just more of their very good thing. There's a roadhouse R&B instrumental ("Do the Murray"), two Mexican tunes ("Yo Canto" and "Mujer Ingrata"), a roots-rock hymn to the vibrant street life of the barrio ("On Main Street"), and, just to keep you guessing, a Grateful Dead cover ("West L.A. Fadeaway").

The special attractions here are "27 Spanishes," a song-in English-that contrives to tell the Mexican story from the Spanish conquest to the present in under five minutes, and "The Lady and the Rose," which features Juan Diego as a first-person narrator telling, with matter-of-fact faith, about the appearance of the Lady of Guadalupe. It should become a standard at December 12 celebrations all over this New World of ours.