December 8, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 40°F


Song of the Times: Los Lobos

We love Los Lobos. Their art is always, undeniably social, so that even songs of love and dance music is connected to a certain place – that place happens to be East L.A. – and a specific time – the last 30 years of post-industry Americas – and a people – immigrants, working class people, Latino/as those for whom the American dream has proven how much it is worth, that is to say, very little.

Their are so many moments throughout their career where this balance shines: “How Will the Wolf Survive?” “Is this All There Is?” to the less obvious but no less poignant migration stories of “Don’t Worry, Baby” and “A Matter of Time.” Love is interrupted, cut off, lost, because of forces of unemployment, and the kind of economy structured by the “free” market, NAFTA, outsourcing, etc. etc. Now we might read “Tin Can Trust” in the light of predatory housing, hardly-precedented unemployment rates, and, yes, the fact that even in this climate we still try to find ways to prove our love of each other.

But like Benny King’s “I Who Have Nothing” or Cee-Lo’s “F*ck You” (I’m not sure “Gold Digger” and that strain of econo-romance fits in quite the same way) “Tin Can Trust” runs against the tendency to say we all feel these things. I may be a college student of limited funds, but I know where I come from and I know what has been been laid out for me. Los Lobos reminds us that there are people who come from different places, that we don’t all experience life in the same way. Love, like anything else, is tempered by the constraints and I would go so far as to say violence of our environment – because the economy is ultimately a violent, non-human thing: it doesn’t see you, the you that thinks of yourself as an “I” in any case.

“Tin Can Trust” is solemn, prayer-like, a good check on selves.

Los Lobos for love and place in a time that forgets everything.