In 1980, the celebrated new wave band Blondie headed to Los Angeles to record a new album, and along with it, the cover “The Tide Is High” originally written by Jamaican legend John Holt. With percussion by Peruvian drummer and veteran L.A. session musician “Alex” Acuña and horns and violins that were pure L.A. mariachi by way of Mexico, “The Tide Is High” demonstrates just one example of the ways in which the music of Los Angeles and Latin America have been intertwined since the birth of the city in the 18th century.
The Tide Was Always High gathers together essays, interviews, and analysis from leading academics, artists, journalists, and iconic Latin American musicians to explore the vibrant connections between Los Angeles and Latin America. Published in conjunction with the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, the book shows how Latin American musicians and music have helped shape the city’s culture, from Hollywood film sets to recording studios, from vaudeville theaters to Sunset Strip nightclubs, and from Carmen Miranda to Perez Prado and Juan Garcia Esquivel.
Josh Kun is an author, journalist, curator, and Professor in the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. He is a winner of the 2006 American Book Award and a 2016 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant."