Sounds From Mexico's Bicentennial

Alfonso Andre, drummer for the Mexican band Jaugares, talks about the band’s remake of the song La Martiniana for a new album that commemorates the Mexican Bicentennial. Andre also talks about his conflicted feelings about celebrating Mexico's history.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And as, of course, we've been talking about, the celebrations for the Mexican bicentennial are underway. Music is a centerpiece of the festivities there, as it is in many countries. To mark the occasion, a groups of diverse artists came together to record a dozen classic Mexican songs - among them the alternative rock band Jaguares, the Jaguars. The group chose the classic track, La Martiniana. We caught up with the band's drummer Alfonso Andre to tell us more about the significance of that song and what Mexico's 200th birthday means to him.

(Soundbite of song, "La Martiniana")

Mr. ALFONSO ANDRE (Drummer, Jaguares): La Martiniana is a very beautiful song, really sweet, and the lyrics, we really like. So we decided to do this version of it - a little more like rock style.

(Soundbite of song, "La Martiniana")

Mr. ANDRE: It's a guy singing to her loved one and he says something like, when I die, don't you cry, you better sing instead of cry. It's kind of a dark song, but it's a love song at the end.

(Soundbite of song, "La Martiniana")

Mr. SAUL HERNANDEZ (Singer, Jaguares): (Singing in Spanish)

Mr. ANDRE: I don't think there's a lot to celebrate, really, 'cause we're in the middle of a very big crisis right now. And I think we haven't progressed much for the last 200 years. And there's still a lot of social injustice in our country, a lot of economical problems, a lot of disparity between rich and poor. So there's still a lot of work to do. And we think it's a time for thinking more than to celebrate.

(Soundbite of song, "La Martiniana")

Mr. HERNANDEZ: (Singing in Spanish)

Mr. ANDRE: I would love for my country to be more democratic, really democratic, not just words, no? That the politicians really serve the people instead of their own agendas. There's a lot of racism in Mexico. The real Mexicans, which are the Indians, are the ones that are more put aside. So we need to take that racism out of our society. This is hurting a lot.

(Soundbite of song, "La Martiniana")

Mr. HERNANDEZ: (Singing in Spanish)

MARTIN: That was Alfonso Andre. He's the drummer for the Mexican rock band Jaguares. The band recently recorded a classic song, La Martiniana, for the new album, "Be Mexicano," which celebrates the Mexican bicentennial.

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