By Pablo Jaime Sainz
After more than 30 years in Norteño music, Los Tigres del Norte still have many stories to tell.
They have more stories to tell about the struggle of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
They have more stories to tell about corrupt politicians that govern Mexico.
They have more stories to tell about drug traffickers at the border.
Meanwhile, in their new album Historias que contar (Fonovisa, 2006) Los Tigres bring us 14 new chapters of that great book which is their discography.
And tomorrow Saturday May 27, the famous Jefes de Jefes, as they’re known, will perform at the San Diego Convention Center, at a concert that includes other Norteño favorites such as Ramón Ayala y sus Bravos del Norte and Banda El Mexicano.
Although the album’s title might imply that this is a corrido collection, that’s not the case, because, like in their most recent albums, Los Tigres use several music genres to tell their stories.
“We choose the songs we include in each album very carefully,” said in an interview Luis Hernandez, one of the group’s singers and who plays the six-string guitar. “Each year we get hundreds of songs from where to choose, but among all the group’s members we choose the ones that work the best for us. We have high quality standards.”
This album includes three corridos: Regalo caro, a narcocorrido that tells the story of a drug dealer; Le compré la muerte a mi hijo, about a man who gives everything to his son, even death; and El Zacatecas, which is full of gunshots and AK-47s.
But not all the songs in this Tigres album talk about violent themes.
In fact, love, in different forms, is the thread that unifies the majority of the songs in Historias que contar.
The first single, for example, Señor locutor, which is on the top of the Billboard charts, is the encounter between a father and the son he abandoned before his birth. The song becomes a dialogue among the DJ, the father and the son.
“That song is doing great in radio, thank God”, Hernandez said.
The DVD that comes with the album includes the Señor Locutor video, which was filmed in Oakland.
Ingratitud, sang by Eduardo Hernández, sax and accordeon player, it’s a bolero that reminds us of the Caribbean songs included in the classic Tigres album Con sentimiento y sabor (Fonovisa, 1992).
Without a doubt the best song in the album is Tú decides, written by maestro Paulino Vargas. This song which is a true ranchera takes us back to Los Tigres’ first hits in the late ‘60s, when they were becoming known with cuts such as Contrabando y Traición y La mesera.
Al estilo mexicano and No diet, two songs performed by Hernán Hernández, Los Tigres’ bass and second vocals, are the most rhythmic ones in Historias que contar. The first one is a ranchera that celebrates Mexico’s diversity and the second one is a cumbia with a great sax sound.
Although the Norteño group is currently promoting this album and is on the road on tour, last May 1, when hundreds of thousands of immigrants marched for their rights, Los Tigres del Norte joined our paisanos in the Los Angeles marches.
“We’ve always sang songs for immigrants so it was important for us to be there”, Hernandez said.
So don’t be surprised if in their next album, the Sinaloan group releases a new song about undocumented immigrants, just like they’ve done in the past with hits like Tres veces mojado, La jaula de oro, and recently José Pérez León.