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Borderline Latin: Elvis Presley, ay mis hermanos, ay mexicanos

Borderline Latin is an exploration of the influence of Latin music in styles, places and rhythms beyond its traditional borders, and of different types of cross-pollination between Latin music and other musical creatures. Each week, we will feature a song or musical style whose rhythm, themes, melodic inflections or influences have earned it the name of Borderline Latin.

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Elvis. Nothing I write here could add the slightest glare to his myth. He is The King. He is the ultimate Alien –legal or illegal, from this planet or from another one. He had a twin brother who died at birth, and he once shot a television set. Or did he? Well, of course he did, apparently several of them –one of those TV sets shot by Elvis was on display at the “Elvis After Dark” exhibit in Graceland. I can’t top something like that here, but with the upcoming presidential election in Mexico this Sunday and all, I thought it would be nice to write about that time Elvis went down to Acapulco to sing “Allá en el Rancho Grande.” To do so, I’m summoning the spirit of Elvis into my Brooklyn apartment, with a bottle of wine and a kickass mixtape. So far, it’s going well.

In 1963, Elvis shot the film Fun in Acapulco, where he plays a gringo looking for work in Mexico –ironic, huh? He eventually gets a job as a lifeguard, and has to dive off La Quebrada, a well-known cliff in Acapulco. But not all of it is about looking for work in a different country and risking one’s own life; there’s also a lot of singing, dancing and butchering of the Spanish language as well. Elvis gets frisky with the local ladies, performs a superb version of “Bossa Nova Baby” at a Mexican nightclub, and parties with a full mariachi band. At this point, it’s probably wise to say that Elvis didn’t actually travel to Acapulco; he shot the movie in Hollywood. But hey: it’s Elvis we’re talking about.

And now: a little less conversation, a little more action. See the man perform “Guadalajara.”

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Click HERE to read more “Borderline Latin” profiles. For comments and tips, please contact me at: [email protected], and for more info on my “Borderline” works, visit Borderline Projects.