Wednesday, 7 April 2010

San Patricio

1846, Mexico became invaded by the USA army in the first of many unjust and thinly veiled wars of aggression that the States have held in their blood thirsty history, driven by the Manifest Destiny.  Captain John Riley and a battalion of Irish soldiers abandoned the US army to join the Mexican defence. They fought until the end, when Mexico City was captured, and find their final end in the Battle of Churubusco, alongside the Mexican army , capture only after all their ammunition has been exhausted, and General Pedro Maria Anaya said the historic phrase "If we had ammunition, you will not be here" when asking to surrender their ammunition to the invading army.

Held as heroes by Mexico, St. Patrick's battalion, also known as Los San Patricios, is honoured every St. Patrick's day on the ex-convent of Churubusco, by the Mexican Banda de Gaitas del Batallón de San Patricio (St. Patrick's Uillean Pipes Band).

Some say they united the Mexican side when they realise that the US was doing the same than Britain did to Ireland before, some say it was because their shared religion, others said it was just aventure. But the fact remains that a small Irish battalion try to help Mexico to defend itself from a foreign invasion, the one who cost it half of their territory. And for that Mexico is always grateful.

The chieftains release a new album called San Patricio, on which they tell this story, and honour it with 19 tracks with collaboration of Mexican and Irish musicians.  Lila Dows, Linda Ronstadt, Carlos Nuñez, Chavela Vargas, Los Tigres del Norte, Liam Neeson, Ry cooder, Moya Brennan, the Banda de Gaita del Batallón de San Patricio and the Chieftains deliver us a wonderful piece of music who mixes mexican and irish rythms, songs in spanish, english and gaeilge, mixture of feelings and cultural common ground.

I have always feel that traditional Irish Music and Mexican music, specially the called in spanish "sones" have a lot of common, I will go as far as to say that the sones are the Mexican interpretation of Celtic music. So it was not that hard to me to visualize this mixture, which was really great to hear it at last.

This is wonderful album that should not only be heard by Mexicans and Irish alike, whether with a Guinness or a Tequila, this music celebration is worth to listen for all the ones who like eclecticism in music, and like a good story telling.

"We are the San Patricios, a brave and gallant band
There'll be no white flag flying within this green command
We are the San Patricios, we have but one demand,
To see the Yankees safely home across the Rio Grande

But when in Churubusco we made our final stand
No court of justice  did we have on the land of Uncle Sam
as traitors and deserters of all we will be shot or hang
far from the green green gentle shore across the Rio Grande

We've disappeared from history like footprints in the sand
But our song is in the tumble weeds and our love is in this land
But if in the desert moonlight you see a ghostly band
We are the men who died for freedom across the Rio Grande".

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