Buena Vista Social Club Essay

Buena Vista Social Club Essay

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More than eight million copies sold is a great figure for any music album. However, for a CD labeled with World Music genre, that number means an unprecedented success. The album, named Buena Vista Social Club, has changed the attitude of the world to Cuban music forever. Nonetheless, Buena Vista has been criticized for being a commercial product, and for causing negative effects to Cuban society. Let us discover the story behind this phenomenon from Cuba, and more importantly, explore the music inside this brilliant CD.
Released in 1997, Buena Vista Social Club immediately became an international success and won a Grammy Award in 1998. Around the world, especially in U.S. where the album was welcomed most heartily, Ry Cooder was considered the hero of Cuban music (Hernandez 65). Being the producer of the album, Cooder was assumed to discover a “lost treasure” in Cuban culture. However, Tanya Kateri Hernandez, in an article about Buena Vista Social Club, revealed that Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, not Cooder, was the person “who masterminded and facilitated the collaboration.” (Hernandez 62). Also in this article, it is noted that Juan de Marcos Gonzalez “implicitly acquiesced to Cooder’s propagation of the colonial myth for the purpose of ensuring the commercial success of the collaboration.” (Hernandez 64). Other musicians in the Buena Vista Social Club ensemble followed Gonzalez’s step, as there was hardly another choice for them.
As a result, Buena Vista is basically a commercial product aimed at foreign audience. The album provides fourteen songs of different genres, most of them originated from Afro-Cubans, including son, darzón, bolero and the so-called Latin Jazz. However, the CD should not be considered the representative ...


... middle of paper ...


...rsies surrounding the album, it has been successful in its mission—Introducing Cuban music. Let sum it up by a quote from Juan de Marcos Gonzales “What’s important is that Cuban music has reclaimed its place in the world.” (Corbett 47)



Works Cited

Buena Vista Social Club, Cooder. Buena Vista Social Club. Nonesuch. 1997. CD.
Corbett, Ben. This is Cuba: An Outlaw Culture Survives. Westview Press, 2002. Print.
Hernandez, Tanya Katerí, “The Buena Vista Social Club: The Racial Politics of Nostalgia.” Latino/A Popular Culture. Ed. Michelle Habell-Pallán, Mary Romero. New York: New York University Press, 2002. 61-72. Print.
McMullen, Steve. “Buena Vista Social Club review” AllMusic.com. Web. 27 November 2011.
Walker, Tim. “The Big Question: How did the Buena Vista Social Club become such a global phenomenon?” The Independent. 12 Feb 2009. Web. 20 November 2011.

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