With the Hummingbird Rotation, we hope to give folks a closer look at the songs that get the most play at Hummingbird HQ. This installment, hear about Lydia Mendoza, Rayland Baxter, and Mike & the Moonpies.
Mal Hombre // Lydia Mendoza
Want to listen to an amazing ballad? Trying to learn Spanish? ¿Por qué no los dos? Oh boy, do I have the song for you. Born in 1916, Lydia Mendoza was known as “La Alondra de la Frontera,” or the Lark of the Border for us gringos*. In 1934, Lydia released “Mal Hombre,” a ballad about a man who is able to charm young innocent women into spending their time with him, only to leave them on the street at the first chance he gets.
“a merced a tus artes de mundano
de mi honra el perfuma me llevaste.”
“thanks to your worldly charm,
you crushed the flower of my innocence.”
Like my previous pick, it’s a lyrically focused song that tells a heartbreaking story for anyone who has been scorned by a previous lover. While the direct English translation might seem clunky, I promise you the original is a much more beautiful combination of words. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, anyone who appreciates this style of ballad will understand the pain and suffering that is conveyed in the sound of Lydia’s voice.
tan ruin es tu alma que no tiene nombre.
Eres un canalla. Eres un malvado.
Eres un mal hombre.”
your soul is so wicked it has no name.
You are a pig. You are evil.
You are a cold-hearted man.”
This song has a soft spot in my heart. Something about the combination of the beautiful-yet-painful lyrics alongside the simple strumming of guitar chords makes me feel like I’m right there with her, suffering from the same heartbreak she is. On top of being hauntingly beautiful, an added bonus of listening to music of another language is that it is one of the best ways to learn said language. It’s also not that difficult of a song to understand, so even if you stopped trying to learn Spanish after you finished your foreign language credits from your freshman year of college, you’ll still be able to understand the overall message of the song.
Strange American Dream // Rayland Baxter
Rayland Baxter has a distinct, floating sound that is boosted by his top notch songwriting. He paints vivid pictures using whimsical melodies that slowly overtake the listener with joy.
“Strange American Dream” speaks to the shifting standards of what the American Dream has become in modernity. The words speak to its contradictory nature but are backed by a lively piano and Baxter’s sing-songy lullaby of a voice. Together, they create a vibrant and complicated mindset that many young Americans feel.
It’s the perfect track to stare at the stars to, or to play before all your buddies go off to college again. The musical scope and variety offered by Baxter is impressive and worth your time this summer.
Country Music’s Dead // Mike & The Moonpies
Spoiler alert, it’s not. That said, Mike & The Moonpies aren’t exactly pleased with country music’s current state of affairs. Throughout the track, they criticize the ills of the industry, including ghostwriting and being whored out to money. It’s antithetical to “bro-country.” After establishing the genre’s faults, in true country fashion, the band incorporate their own failings and struggles on the road.
Despite the seemingly gloomy subject material, this song is actually a damn jam. The rapid pace is set early and only escalates. It features real country twang and soul, my personal favorite aspect being the liberal organ use as the piece crescendos.