Friday Five: JuanGa

In the few days since Juan Gabriel’s passing it’s been interesting to see the struggle of English-language media outlets as they try to comprehend who the man (and the artist and the industry) was. We’ve heard comparisons to Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Price, and so many more, but all of them really fall short.

On Sunday, when I first heard he died from an apparent heart attack, I immediately turned on the TV to “channel 34,” Univision’s KMEX. They and other Spanish stations were covering the story, interrupting whatever was scheduled to provide the latest report, share the shock, and begin the process of celebrating a phenomenal career and legacy. All afternoon, nothing interrupted the normal broadcasting of English-language TV. JuanGa’s death was’t even the lead story on their 11:00 news broadcasts that night.

There’s a world beyond what people know in the US. We live in a culture that doesn’t always recognize that. Moreover, a lot of that world is living–and dying–right among us, right under our noses.

Anyone who lived within the social world of Mexican America knows Juan Gabriel. His stature and visibility were such that he defied being missed.

I can’t pretend that I was a huge fan, but I do have my favorite’s from his vast catalog. Here are five:

5. “Querida
4. “Se Me Olvidó Otra Vez
3. “Hasta Que Te Conocí
2. “La Muerte del Palomo
1. “Amor Eterno

One thought on “Friday Five: JuanGa

  1. Thank you for this. I often think, when listening to the ads on Spanish-language baseball broadcasts, that there is an entire … subculture seems too small a word … an entire version of America that exists in the space where English disappears. I grew up in the same small town that my father was born in. My grandmother still lived in the house my grandfather had built many decades before. There was a “square block” in the town, four short blocks total, that seemed to consist solely of emigrants from Spain. The tiny neighborhood was both within and outside of “America”. Juan Gabriel is another example of this, a titanic cultural figure who was unknown to so many of us.

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