The Art of Longevity Season 2, Episode 4: Los Lobos

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When I sat down with Steve Berlin, the Los Lobos sax player and de facto spokesperson, I was a little more than intrigued. To most people around the world - outside of North America anyways - Los Lobos remain the La Bamba band. How wrong we are.

There is a very common thread with the artists we’ve had on the show - and with longevity - every one of the artists (except so far, Laura Veirs and Maximo Park) had a very big song: James, Turin Brakes, Gary Numan, KT Tunstall…

But Los Lobos is the most extreme example of a longevity outfit with a big song - the band had no other hits at all. Taking nothing away from La Bamba - a fine record and a justified number one in ten countries back in 1987. But stop right there. Try Googling, as I did, “Los Lobos, greatest American rock band” and there are more than a few articles examining that hypothesis, for good reasons. Built around the soulful songs of drummer Louis Perez and lead vocal and guitar player David Hidalgo (throw in a few rollicking rockers by Cesar Rosas) Los Lobos make solid, classic Americana-rock, but from a Latin point of view - and a deep rooted connection to traditional Mexican music: cumbia, boleros and norteños. Finally, throw the city of LA into the mix and you have the Los Lobos agenda, musically speaking.

It’s not surprising that Los Lobos have made a record of cover versions of seminal LA songs (The Beach Boys, Jackson Browne, War, Percy Mayfield) but what is surprising is how long it took to come up with the idea to do just that.

“We have a sixth sense of when to do stuff, somehow the muse talks to us. It's important for us to have a boundary - an idea - not just another Los Lobos record. The main thing for us is longevity and being able to do what we do and to answer to nobody other than ourselves, we have such gratitude for that. We have no obligation other than to move forward with our music”.

Now that is an agenda for lasting the distance. Yet Steve and I have fun with one idea - for Los Lobos to soundtrack a Netflix (or HBO, or AMC) production of Jaime Hernandez' genius Mexicana soap opera Love & Rockets. What a collaboration that would be.
Somebody get Ted Sarandos on the line…it’s Steve Berlin calling, from Los Lobos...

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