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In 1980, the celebrated new wave band Blondie headed to Los Angeles to record a new album and along with it, the cover song “The Tide Is High,” originally written by Jamaican legend John Holt. Featuring percussion by Peruvian drummer and veteran LA session musician “Alex” Acuña, and with horns and violins that were pure LA mariachi by way of Mexico, “The Tide Is High” demonstrates just one of the ways in which Los Angeles and the music of Latin America have been intertwined since the birth of the city in the eighteenth 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's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, 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 Pérez Prado and Juan García Esquivel.
Introduction: The Tide Was Always High
1. Mexican Musical Theater and Movie Palaces in Downtown Los Angeles before 1950
2. Rumba Emissaries
Alexandra T. Vazquez
3. Doing the Samba on Sunset Boulevard: Carmen Miranda and the Hollywoodization of Latin American Music
Walter Aaron Clark
4. Walt Disney’s Saludos Amigos: Hollywood and the Propaganda of Authenticity
Carol A. Hess
5. A Century of Latin Music at the Hollywood Bowl
6. Voice of the Xtabay and Bullock’s Wilshire: Hearing Yma Sumac from Southern California
Carolina A. Miranda
7. Musical Anthropology: A Conversation with Elisabeth Waldo
Hans Ulrich Obrist
9. Listening across Boundaries: Soundings from the Paramount Ballroom and Boyle Heights
David F. Garcia
10. Studio Stories: Interviews with Session Musicians
Betto Arcos and Josh Kun
11. From Bahianas to the King of Pop . . . : A Speculative History of Brazilian Music into Los Angeles
12. Heroes and Saints
13. Staging the Dance of Coalition with Versa-Style and CONTRA-TIEMPO
14. Booming Bandas of Los Ángeles: Gender and the Transnational Zapotec Philharmonic Brass Bands
Xóchitl C. Chávez
15. Caminos y Canciones en Los Angeles, CA
List of Contributors
Josh Kun is an author, journalist, curator, and Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He is a winner of a 2006 American Book Award and is a 2016 MacArthur Fellow.
"The Tide Was Always High will redefine the way people think and write about the music and history of Los Angeles. Positioning LA as a Latin American city, this collection of essays and original interviews reveals new geographic, visual, and sonic understandings of the link between Los Angeles and the world Latin@s have made."—Gaye Theresa Johnson, author of Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles
"This eye-opening and singularly important collection establishes a new understanding of the importance of the city of Los Angeles in hemispheric and global culture while remapping the history of Latin music to reveal previously understudied currents of collaboration and cross-pollination."—George Lipsitz, author of Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music