Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 16, 2009

Latin Music addendum

Filed under: Latin America,music — louisproyect @ 12:35 am

Desi Arnaz, husband to and co-star with Lucille Ball of the I Love Lucy Show in the 1950s when Latin Music was first taking off, performs “Babalu Aiye”, a Yoruban hymn to the Orisha god of death and healing. When I was a kid, we used to love to sing “Babalu”, the Afro-Cuban Santeria chant that slaves brought over from the Yoruba kingdom.


  1. It’s an interesting cut. My elders in the tradition have always had some grief they express with bandstand style. Watch the time keeping Desi’s doing on his upstage hand, his fingers sort of taking a ripple effect as opposed to the orthodox “ta-ka”, or slight rocking movement with the whole hand and the wrist most often applied to keep time in basic Afro- Cuban Rhythm. Then he takes the whole piece off into a sort of glamorized guaguanco, which is interesting because he starts off and ends with a samba feel.

    he knew where he wanted to go, he had control of his supporting players, and he knew how to put on a show. You really can’t take anything away from the man, he had his own distinctive style.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — October 16, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  2. Years ago, before I had to sell all my vinyl that had taken over my apartment, I had a bunch of old Afro-Cuban records, including one that had Desi Arnaz as lead vocalist before he had his own band. He was *great*. Too bad that he went mainstream. Of all the cd’s that were made with him after he became famous, none could match his earlier performances. That is what fame does for you, turn you into Elvis.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 16, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  3. Awesome clip. Don’t think I had seen that. I love how his hair flops around toward the end… so humanizing a view of him.

    I am of course reminded how recently a republican quoted Arnaz–or perhaps more accurately Ricky Ricardo– at the Sotomayor hearings by saying she had some ” ‘splainin’ to do.” What a country.

    Comment by ish — October 17, 2009 @ 1:32 am

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