SUMMER SONGS: JOSH KUN



King Elio Boom: El Tren
From Champeta Criolla Vol. 2 (Palenque, 2003)

Irving Fields: Cha Cha No. 29 (Mexican Institute of Sound Remix)
(exclusive remix for Reboot Stereophonic)

Yolanda Perez: Aqui Me Tienes
From Aqui Me Tienes (Fonovisa, 2004)

Editor’s Note: The latest in the Soul Sides Summer Songs series is from a treasured mentor, Josh Kun. A professor at UC Riverside by day, Kun’s wears more musical hats than even I can keep track of, including author of the new Audiotopia and co-founder of the MP3 blog, Hippocampus Music

    Driving west down Pico Boulevard with the windows down, headed for lifeguard station 15, drive-thru McDonald’s fries in my lap. For me, every daytime summer song has to live up to that feeling. Every nighttime summer song has to live up to another one: winding along Mulholland, valley lights below, warm PM wind through a sunroof.

    Summer songs need drama, sex, & the promise of instant (and knowingly fleeting) catharsis, the guarantee that you will feel goose-bumps good and deeply changed (the summer song is the ultimate aural fix), just by listening. And in LA, they have to be able to move bodies that are sitting in cars, not hanging on stoops or dancing in fire hydrant spray. Songs that make other drivers turn down their stereos and throw you a glance to consummate a brief cross-lane relationship.

    GnR welcoming us to the jungle. Stevie B pleading to his “Diamond Girl” with Debbie Deb on deck. Champeta picatero King Elio Boom ordering Colombian kids to jump into disorder and ride “El Tren.” T Pain’s “I’m Sprung” coming through the radio on a Friday midnight as traffic clears on Sunset and you could drive anywhere, forever.

    I’ve spent much of this summer in Tijuana and Mexico City, and I’ve learned just how well all these feelings translate. At a Mexico City art party, Rinocerose’s “Bitch” poured onto the streets and mixed with the smell of tortillas, car exhaust, and wet pavement. Liquits and Natalia Lafourcade ran naked through an imaginary garden on “Jardin.”

    I howled along with duranguense queen Diana Reyes as she tried to one-up Daniela Romo’s “Mentiras” and head-nodded to The Mexican Institute of Sound’s spot on remix of an Irving Fields “bagels and bongos” cha cha cha that I‘ve helped re-issue. But the LA-Tijuana back and forth has been the constant, and for the highway 5 migration between worlds, no song has worked better than Yolanda Perez reminding us that before Beyonce, there was banda.

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