The Corner

Krayola Colors

John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting has a new song on the Brothers in Arms soundtrack. He writes about composing the song, at Big Hollywood.

Also, my favorite band of the moment is the Krayolas, whose new album, Long Leaf Pine, is just out. The press materials describe the group as “Tex-Mex meets the Beatles,” and that’s about right. The best song is “Corrido Twelve Heads in a Bag,” which is on violence in Mexico: “Twelve heads in a bag left on the side of the road/Found in a country God no longer knows/Twelve heads in a bag, I swear I read it yesterday/Buried like the others on page 27A./Twelve heads a bag, lost count to my dismay/Fifty-three hundred must have somehow got in the way.”

In an email, singer/songwriter Hector Saldana writes:

“Corrido Twelve Heads in a Bag” is one of those magic songs, an inspired piece that went from my head to the page in about five minutes.  That’s how it poured out — music, words and melody all at once. … The thing about 12 Heads is that it was written fast, recorded a few days later — and it’s almost out of date with regard to the statistics.  That “5,300″ count is now approaching 8,000. Musically, the song seems to jar people because it starts in Spanish and goes to English; it’s in waltz time and switches to 4/4 folk ballad; and finally (and maybe more viceral) is the key change from G major to G minor, which is something that affects the brain and the heart with or without the lyric. The news out of Mexico and the border is not day by day — it’s hour by hour.  The danger and sense of out of control lawlessness is palpable down here.

The Washington Post recently ran a story about how the Border Patrol is paying Mexican folk artists to write songs about the hazards of illegal immigration. Some artists, though, don’t need the inspiration of a federal stimulus.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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