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Sample Track 1:
"Atawalpa" from Cama de la Conga (Aagoo Records)
Sample Track 2:
"El Limon" from Cama de la Conga (Aagoo Records)
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Cama de la Conga (Aagoo Records)
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about select songs from Cama de la Conga: in the words of Zemog El Gallo Bueno frontman Abraham Gomez-Delgado

It used to be that the lyrics were the last thing I cared about. But now that we play in New York every week people are actually listening to what I am saying. So this time I forced myself to really work on them. I noticed that the songs for the most part are protest songs. I didn’t set out to write a protest record, but that is just what happened. Most of the things I am protesting have to do with the US and imperialism.

“El Jardin Suspira” (The Garden Exhales)

I wrote this song a long time ago, when I was 20, so I updated lyrics. I was in Boston in the backyard and the snow had just melted. A spring thaw. I saw in the backyard all these basketballs, wiffle ball bats, and deflated footballs (they weren’t my toys, but the kid’s upstairs). They were half in the ground and after being under four feet of snow all winter. I didn’t analyze it too much. But the song is about that Spring thaw and finding the toys you had left behind. You rediscover them, but now they are part of the ground. There are leaves and sticks rotted around them. I ask “do I play with them, do I leave them there? Do I just go to work now?” This is the only song on the CD that is about something that is really nothing.

“Assimilar” (Assimilate)

This plena is the most straight forward song on the record. The chorus goes, “Assimilate, to progress. It’s the US that needs to assimilate. Not the other way around.” This is an older song as well. I am not sure I would put it that way today. But I like that it says a lot about what is going on with the Bush administration, telling the country that in order to succeed we need to be more Anglicized. And I ask why we all don’t assimilate; show respect for everyone. The lyrics are “Look what I see there, the devil himself on TV. The news squashes you with bombas in plain sight. Bomba, plenalistas. They want a good American. You can be Latin but make sure you’re WASPY. Negating the Afro-Indian of all my country people. Weapons firing trying to conquer the ‘camel.’ Replacing his horse shoes with oil drums (so he walks around all fucked up).”


This song is about Atawalpa, the last Incan emperor, who was burned at the stake by Spaniard conquistador Francisco Pizarro. The song is based on a book I read by Gavin Menzies, a former English Navy commander. He has all this evidence that the Chinese had a fleet in 1421 that made it as far as Mexico, Cape Verde, and India. When Pizarro got to Cuzco in Peru, he found these chickens that were only found in China. Atawalpa means Emperor Chicken. So I ask, “What came first? The chicken or the emperor?” This theory may not be true. But what if it is? Suppose Chinese people intermarried with South Americans. Whether it is true or not, I am questioning what we take for granted about Columbus. What if it was the Chinese that came before the Italians, Portuguese, and Spanish? We may have a Chinese influence we don’t even know about that changes everything. It’s a funny little song, a funny little story. Even though in the song you can’t tell what I’m talking about.

“El Limón” (The Lime)

I have been in the
US for 25 years, speaking English for 24 years. I speak fluent English. And still to this day, I can never remember which one is a lemon and which one is a lime! In Puerto Rico a lime is limón. But here a lemon is the yellow one. In Puerto Rico there isn’t a yellow one. So this is a funny little trip about being a transient person having to assimilate and learn the language. So it is a metaphor for what a lot of people go through when they cross languages and cultures. The song is a straightforward Puerto Rican-style mambo. The chorus is pretty straightforward, but the verses are kind of surreal. Ultimately I have ideas that I want to talk about, but the songs are going to be what they want to be. If I want it to be about VW bugs, they may end up talking about hover crafts. I originally recorded this as another song and I didn’t really like it. So I ended up manufacturing a completely different song with those tracks. This is the only time I ever did that.

“El Gordo Rojo” (Fat Red Man)

This song is based on a Puerto Rican folktale that emerged before the Cold War, when there was a policy to try to Americanize Puerto Ricans. In
Puerto Rico, they traditionally celebrated Three Kings Day in January. So along come these military instructors who want the kids in schools to celebrate Christmas and be like other Americans. So one of these guys goes to a teacher and says we’re going to celebrate Christmas. So one December 25th in this one-room schoolhouse in rural Puerto Rico, the students show up and see this tree, and presents. In English, on the wall it says “Merry Christmas,” because the teacher is only speaking English. And the door swings open and in comes this fat red guy with black boots and a big beard. Everyone freaks out, because they think it’s the devil, and they jump out the window. The whole story is that Santa is chasing them. In super-traditional bomba phrasing, the chorus goes “Christmas is here. Everybody got scared when the fat red man arrived.”

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