365 Days, 365 Files: Café Tacuba – Ojalá que llueva café

The only Café Tacuba album I don’t own is Avalancha de Exitos. I would probably enjoy it if I listened to it for a while, but there’s no way I could understand it. (As if I possessed any understanding of Spanish.)

Avalancha de Exitos translates to "avalanche of hits". In short, it’s a cover album.

I did borrow it from a friend of mine back in 1999, and it was the first Café Tacuba album I ever heard. I was immediately drawn by the group’s angular sound, but instead of getting Avalancha de Exitos, I went with Re.

I’m still hesitant to get Avalancha de Exitos because certain interpretations have contexts beyond my experience.

"Ojalá que llueva café" is one such song. To a gringo such as myself, "Ojalá que llueva café" is just an energetic piece with textured rhythms, virtuoso playing and stratospheric singing. But to a native listener, it’s a display of sharp wit and cleverness.

The original by Juan Luis Guerra is performed as merengue, very danceable and very pop. Café Tacuba, however, transforms the song into huapango, also very danceable but far more traditional. It’s like turning a Shania Twain country-pop song into bluegrass.

That analogy, unfortunately, doesn’t take into account the national identities attached to such a transformation. You might cross state lines by making Shania bluegrass, but to turn merengue into huapango takes a leap across a sea.

If there is one thing my gaijin ears understand is energy, and "Ojalá que llueva café" has it in spades.

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