I had almost forgotten how much I adore El Gran Combo, but have spent the entire evening listening to songs from their latest album, as well as songs from various records they’ve produced over the past 30 years. I first fell in love with EGC the summer after my freshman year, and it has been a blissful relationship ever since. I am thinking of them again now since I am in the process of burning a CD to send to Sonya for her 22nd birthday, which is today.
I met Sonya online about 7 years ago. At that time she and her family were living in Villepinte, a suburb about 30 mins. northeast of Paris. We e-mailed a lot and might have even instant messaged. We developed a habit of sending cutesy Sanrio knick-knacks to one another via snail mail. She sent me so many beautiful things, both in gifts and in writing, and I have kept in a safe place every parcel I have ever received from her.
The last time I sent Sonya something by mail must not have been much more than a year after we met up during my 2004 trip to France. In other words, much too long ago. Sonya is currently a med student living in Paris with her fiancé Franc and their dog. I knew that she has always liked RnB, but I hear that most recently, she has also been listening to Caribbean and Latin music, salsa in particular.
EGC is a very well-known and established Puerto Rican ensemble, and perhaps she already has a record or two of theirs. Still, I thought I would share some of my favorite EGC songs with her in hopes that she too will enjoy them.
This first one is from their latest album, Arroz con Habichuelas (2008).
El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico – Arroz con Habichuelas
Also “Brujeria,” performed live here, is one of their more popular songs.
I don’t speak much Spanish, but I do know what the song is about. He has fallen victim to the wiles of a woman (of course). And while we’re on the topic, I should mention another favorite of mine that will be on the CD….
Oscar D’León y la Dimensión Latina – Lloraras
You’ll have to pardon the utter cheeseball nature of this video. Oscar D’León is terribly goofy and has some peculiar moves at points (i.e., what the fuck is he doing at 2:16???), not to mention his bald head and thick stache are inappropriately calling to mind Montel Williams…But I can’t complain too much because the man appears to be thorougly enjoying himself.
Although I’m not certain why he’s so smiley about it…it’s really a very sad song about the pain of unreciprocated love, in which he tells his lover that she’ll cry when she realizes what a mistake she has made by leaving him. Regardless, I love his voice, and I adore this song…especially since it boasts one of the most gratifying uses of cowbell I have ever heard.