Yu-Mex: Yugoslav Mexican Music of the 1950’s

After the Yugo-Soviet relations broke down in 1948, the Yugoslav authorities were looking for an alternative source of cultural inspiration. They found it in Mexico

At the beginning of the 1950s, Yugoslavia was a socialist country playing the odd Cold War game in between the two blocks. After Tito’s break up with Stalin in 1948, Soviet-style doctrines were denounced in favour of a locally-infused “alternative path to socialism”. With the Russians out of the picture, and the Americans yet to step in, the Yugoslav authorities were in search of alternative cultural models for the new socialist federation. (Un)surprisingly enough, these were found in Mexico.

Why Mexico? As Slovenian author Miha Mazzini argues, it was “far away, the chances of Mexican tanks appearing on Yugoslav borders were slight and, best of all, in Mexican films they always talked about revolution.” However, Mexican revolutionary style wasn’t emulated in cinema as much as in the booming Yugoslav music industry. Armed with sombreros and acoustic guitars, fake mariachi bands spread throughout the country and some of their 7” records from the 1950’s can still be found today on flea markets across ex-Yugoslavia.

Mazzini has compiled a precious list of obscure Yugoslav Mexican music, along with EP covers, lyrics translation and MP3’s. We bring you a selection of the most hilarious. Ay, caramba.

Miroslava Mrdja and ansambl Paloma
Why Do I Have to Love You

Like a quiet river
my days are passing
and my sad eyes
just tears come to visit

Listen: Three Days (Tri Dana).mp3

Milić Ljubomir and Paloma
Divorce / Ballad of Sad Life

My wife is talking all the time
how I just drift around
and don’t care about her
that I come home at the dawn

What can I do
when beautiful women are after me all the time
and at least one
is pulling me by the shoulder

Every morning when I return home
my wife bables to the evening
Oh, enough!
I’ll apply for divorce!

Listen: Divorce (Razvod Braka).mp3

Nevenka Arsova
Paloma Negra / Carbine 30-30

Carbine you old gun
tell about your glorious days
all heroes remember you
many of them carrying the wound you gave them.

If somebody wanted my hot blood,
I would shed it gladly!

Listen: Carbine 30-30 (Karabin 30-30).mp3 / Paloma Negra.mp3

Trio Tividi
Mama Juanita

Let your attentive eyes
always shine with this warm glow.
and let this greeting be
just for you mama Juanita!

Listen: Mama Juanita.mp3

Kvartet Paloma

Let Me Suffer if I Love Her

May I hug you?
Sorry – so young and already married!
What can I do but return to my woman
let me suffer if i love her

Listen: You, Just You (Ti, samo ti).mp3

My Hat

My Mexican hat
is the biggest in the world.
When I’m walking below it
I know I’m very handsome.
And every tries to
touch my hat,
because it brings her luck,
that’s what people think!

My hat is beautiful!
My hat is beautiful!
I’m giant with it!
My hat is beautiful!
Without it my life is colorless.

Listen: My Hat (Moj Sesir).mp3