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Baker's Dozen

Everything's Connected: Omar Rodríguez-López Favourite LPs
Stevie Chick , September 10th, 2020 08:43

Former At The Drive In and Mars Volta member Omar Rodríguez-López speaks to Stevie Chick about the records that shaped his life, from Latin traditionals to how Janet Jackson got him into punk


Atahualpa Yupanqui – ¡Soy Libre! ¡Soy Bueno!
Technically, this is the first music I ever heard. My dad always played a certain song, which is not on this record – a lot of Yupanqui's albums are just compilations, and this is a good introduction. But my father always used to play 'Los Ejes De Mi Carreta' on guitar and sing it at home a lot. It's a classic, and it's played all around the world, and my dad played this on guitar all the time, at parties, on birthdays, just sitting around drinking. According to him, when my mother was pregnant with me, he would hug her like Patrick Swayze hugging Demi Moore in Ghost, from behind, putting the guitar on her belly and playing it. I literally heard the reverberations of this song while I was in her belly.

It's very simple – he's narrating how people are complaining that the wheels on his cart that he uses to farm every day are creaking, and they want him to oil it. He's saying he doesn't mind that it creaks, that it's his companion in some way, part of his daily experience. In the last verse he says, 'By the way, I'm never going to grease the axles of my cart, just so you know.' And my dad, whenever he go to that part, he would always say it with gusto, and would add this curse word of 'Carajo', like, 'Goddam it, I'm never going to grease the axles!' Obviously, it has so much to do with my upbringing and my view on things!

It's a beautiful song. It's not on this record, but this album is the best way into this Argentinian roots music. Later, as an adult, I sought out more music like that, it led me to Mercedes Sosa, who was super-influenced by him. She's one of the great faces of the Argentine folk movement, the New Song movement.

The first time I saw footage of Yupanqui, it was super-interesting. He was a left-handed guitarist, and he's from the 1930s, and he was part of the Communist Party, so he was censored during Juan Peron's presidency – he was incarcerated several times. It related again to my interest later in punk, and anything that had to do with social issues. He inspired Mercedes Sosa, and Violeta Parra, who is also someone who is great and people should listen to. These are all really important people in Latin America. But if I have to pick one record, it's this one, because Yupanqui influences everything that came later.