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Jonathan Bogart


Jonathan Bogart is a listener and writer from Arizona. His examination of Ke$ha was selected for inclusion in the 2011 edition of Da Capo Best Music Writing, and his writing on music history has been noted in Pitchfork and the Guardian. He blogs at jonathanbogart.tumblr.com.


"The Little Window in My Shanty Streets: Urban Romanticism in Latin Music between the Wars"

Carlos Gardel’s 1934 tango “Mi Buenos Aires Querido” (My Beloved Buenos Aires) was one of the signature Latin hits of the interbellum era: its conflation of the city, romanticized but not idealized, with the paramour is a standard rhetorical device in contemporary Latin popular song. Latin Americans could be justifiably proud of their cities in the early twentieth century: Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Havana, and Mexico City were teeming cultural hubs, where millions from disparate ethnic and racial backgrounds consorted, built, wrote, dreamed, and worked to new sounds, new rhythms, and new sentiments. Tango, samba, rumba, son, and bolero are products of that urban modernism, and the compositions and recordings of stars like Gardel, Don Azpiazú, Carmen Miranda, and many more transformed local music, originating in specific neighborhoods, into international dance crazes, creating a cosmopolitan, truly global Latin audience in the process.

But the tradition of urban romanticism was not an invention of the Americas. The relationship of Lisbon with fado, and of Andalusian cities like Seville and Málaga with flamenco, provides a fascinating contrast; as the dances of the former American colonies swept the globe, the urban-mélange music of the Iberian homelands turned even more local, as growing authoritarianism forced culture into straitjackets of tradition and isolation.

By focusing on the contemporary 78rpm record of urban Latin music, I hope to show how the spread of modern urbanism in Latin America produced a deathless body of work fully as modern, as integrated, and as sophisticated as any popular music of the era, from jazz to calypso to cabaret.