Los Tigres del Norte are making history today. The San Jose, Calif.–based norteño group are receiving a Special Recognition (Spanish Language) award from GLAAD for “Era Diferente,” a song on their newest album, Realidades. The song is about a lesbian teenager who falls in love with her best friend. It’s the first song about gay love in the band’s 47-year history…
“Era Diferente” translates to “She Was Different,” and is about a young girl who struggles with boys fighting for her attention. “They make bets for her affection,” sings Hernandez, “but none of them win her love … She was so different from the other girls because she was never interested in a boy’s love.”
The song itself, since you’re wondering, is cheerful pop-rock, with a backbeat and everything, as catchy as anything else on Realidades. In other news, every day I grow more certain that I underrated Realidades last year.
As for the song’s reception, the Youtube comments showcase a couple of the expected “abomination”-baiters, but on the whole I can’t imagine anyone being too surprised or upset with Los Tigres. The band has a long history of supporting sensible immigration policy and basic human decency, while singing out against North America’s more stupid immigration and drug policies. Even with some badass narcocorridos in their repertoire, they seem like polite liberals. (This Gustavo Arellano listicle remains the single best overview.) In the above article, singer/songwriter/accordionist Jorge Hernandez says, “Sometimes in the Latino community we see machismo and problems with acceptance, but this is an area where acceptance is the most important because this is such a large community and we must accept people who love each other and live normal, happy lives.” “The NPR of norteño,” suggests my friend Anthony.
I’ve likened Los Tigres to Springsteen before and I’ll do it again. They came up around the same time, in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Their detailed story songs make larger points about politics and society. Drawing on their respective traditions, their music has moved más allá de tradición, to the point where they embody their genres. Just as Reagan couldn’t escape Springsteen, socially conservative norteño fans can’t escape Los Tigres, even if they wanted to. I bet most of the cops who turned their backs on “41 Shots” remained Springsteen fans. At some point fans accept that these guys will always speak for them like nobody else can, never mind the small disagreements.