The singer Vicente Fernández was “El Ídolo” and “El Rey” — the idol of Mexico and the king of ranchera music. These lofty titles strengthened his profound cultural affect, which spanned many years and nations far past Mexico.
Fernández, who died on Sunday at 81, lengthy represented the best of the Mexican man, pleased with his roots and himself. His music usually centered on love and loss, although additionally with a excessive diploma of confidence and perspective. His iconic rendition of the track “Volver Volver” propelled him to fame, however it’s in one other main hit, “Por Tu Maldito Amor,” that his agony and longing are on full show.
In 2016, Fernández, referred to as Chente, recorded “Un Azteca en el Azteca,” a reside album that includes a few of his greatest hits, on the Estadio Azteca in Mexico Metropolis, the most important venue within the nation, which holds over 87,000. It was billed as his farewell live performance, and it additionally turned out to be the final earlier than he skilled a collection of well being issues.
Throughout his efficiency of “Por Tu Maldito Amor” (“Due to Your Rattling Love”), the ocean of followers sing the refrain again to him.
Por tu maldito amor
No puedo terminar con tantas penas
Quisiera reventarme hasta las venas
Por tu maldito amor
It’s turn out to be a musical customary at any big day hosted by somebody of Mexican descent — everybody is aware of the lyrics. The evening doesn’t start to finish till somebody begins pouring tequila, performs this track, and belts out a grito of their finest Chente voice — operatic and hovering with a tinge of melancholy.
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Regardless of the subject material of his music, it was all the time tempered by his manly persona — he wearing full charro regalia, took swigs from followers’ bottles and carried out atop his horses. Fernández’s model was this: a brawny, mustachioed man gallantly preventing for the lady he loves.
And his persona was not in contrast to the idols that preceded him, Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete, Mexico’s earliest ranchera stars who rose to fame within the Thirties with their interpretations of affection songs. And like them, he parlayed his music profession into appearing roles. Fernández starred in additional than 30 movies with titles like “El Macho” and “Todo Un Hombre,” by which he performs hard-living rancheros who romance lovely girls.
To make sure, after so many many years of affect, Fernández and his work will stay beloved. His music will endure within the Mexican songbook. However his model of machismo has frayed — no less than for a youthful era much less concerned about a slender view of what it means to be a person.
In 2019, Fernández gave an interview to “De Primera Mano,” a Mexican leisure information present, the place he described receiving a most cancers analysis in 2012 after medical doctors discovered a tumor on his liver. He stated they prompt he get a liver transplant, which he rejected, saying: “I’m not going to sleep subsequent to my lady with the organ of one other man, not realizing if he was a gay or a drug addict.”
There was an outcry on social media over the homophobic remarks, and even his son, Vicente Fernández Jr., tried to walk back his father’s interview, asserting that his father’s music was for everybody.
No matter Fernández’s views on sexuality — although they appear to be fairly obvious — Vicente Jr. could be proper. After many years within the highlight, Chente’s music not belongs simply to him — it belongs to the individuals. His musical affect extends far past Mexico, permeating a lot of Latin America and the United States. Fernández’s recognition hasn’t waned, as demonstrated by the memorials and outpouring of condolences on Sunday, starting from the likes of President Biden to that different “king,” the nation singer George Strait.
Fernández wasn’t one to draw back from politics. In Mexico, he was a identified supporter of the Institutional Revolutionary Celebration, which lengthy held energy within the nation. And his affect prolonged into U.S. politics. He carried out on the 2000 Republican Nationwide Conference, the place George W. Bush secured the nomination. However extra lately he supported Democratic candidates within the U.S., even writing a corrido for Hillary Clinton throughout her 2016 presidential run.
Although he’s emblematic of a kind of dated machismo, many individuals will nonetheless select to take heed to his music and belt out his songs at karaoke or at a cousin’s wedding ceremony. Maybe one other one in every of his memorable songs, “El Rey,” explains this dichotomy.
You would possibly say you by no means liked me
However you can be very unhappy
And that’s why you’ll have to keep
With cash and with out cash
I all the time do what I need
And my phrase is the legislation
I don’t have a throne nor a queen
Nor anybody who understands me
However I’m nonetheless the king
You in all probability don’t keep in mind the primary time you heard one in every of his songs as a result of they had been all the time part of the soundscape, imprinted in your thoughts. His music is imbued within the material of American Latino tradition, very like in the remainder of Latin America.