For many, myself including, Manu Chao’s music was our first encounter with social issues. From migration, injustice to indigenous communities, and social resistance, his songs have become anthems we wish we were singing just for the sake of enjoying the music and not because they’re still painfully relevant. Today, twenty-one years after Manu Chao released his classic album, Clandestino is back in its full glory with three new songs.
Beyond simply following the industry’s trend of re-releasing old albums to appeal to our nostalgia, the re-release of this album is making a very strong statement (as Manu has consistently done throughout his career) about the many humanitarian crises the world is experiencing right now. It’s surprising how these songs we grew up with, are even more relevant today with migratory crisis happening all over the world. Songs like “Clandestino,” “El desaparecido,” or “Por el suelo” have acquired new, more intense and painful meanings.
“I cannot go forward, I cannot return, and the land in front don’t want me, look the land behind me burns”
Clandestino is both an autobiographical album about Manu Chao’s many trips all over Latin America, and a narrative about the experiences migrants endure, mainly at the Mexico/US border. With his peculiar voice, multi-lingual songs, and calm yet strong beats, the album was a massive success all over the world. Its comeback, as we’ve seen, isn’t only a matter of historical relevance to make us more emphatic with the realities others face every day.
The first “new” song, is a version of the classic “Clandestino” with Trinidadian musician Calypso Rose. By mixing the original song with strong lyrics about the thousands that get stranded at sea hoping to reach land to start over, the already emblematic song becomes even stronger; not to mention the powerful vibe Calypso adds to the tune.
The second song is a completely new one after more than a decade without releasing new material. “Bloody Bloody Border,” sung completely in English, narrates the horrors people endure in migrant camps in Arizona. The song’s strangely joyful beat, contrasting with the lyrics, could be interpreted as a comment on how the world reacts to these inhuman realities and our double standards as a society.
“I am stranded on the sea with an unknown destiny. No home to return to, nobody waiting for me.”
Finally, the third addition is an original song made during the original Clandestino sessions and reworked for this new release. Not talking particularly about any social matter, it’s actually one of Manu Chao’s most personal lyrics in the album. “Roadies Rules” deals with the depression of being constantly on the road.
Though Manu Chao has been lying low for the last few years, he keeps doing what he loves the most: traveling and playing his music at small venues. So, the release of this album means a lot for fans all over the world.
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