A few weeks back, while browsing the Queens collection, a private LP collection recently purchased and currently being sold at Amoeba Hollywood
, I noticed several Chavela Vargas
LPs were a part of it. At this point, I am pairing down my music to the bare necessities. When I see vinyl that I want to buy, I ask myself first, will I listen to it or will it sit in the shelf? Can I play it at a club or on my radio show, Discos Inmigrantes
? If not, I don’t buy it.
After a few days of the collection being on sale, with some of the better international vinyl long gone in the selves of various record collectors, the Chavela Vargas records were still in the bins. I saw it as a sign. I had to get them. The day I bought them I had my radio show. I didn’t get to play the records on air, but I played one of the records as I was preparing for the show. Instantly as soon I dropped the needle on the recent purchase, I was glad I went back and bought the Chavela Vargas LPs.
As you read the various obituaries about Chavela Vargas, you will read the same facts. That she was a great interpreter of Mexico’s ranchera music. That she was contemporaries of many Mexican legends, including Jose Alfredo Jimenez
, Augustin Lara, Diego Rivera and of course, Frida Kahlo
, who she was rumored to have an affair with. That she was overtly gay but not out. She often dressed in men’s clothing and her sexuality was a secret that everyone seem to know. When she finally came out in 2000, it was an afterthought. She lived rough for a while, which only added to the pain in her voice. She recorded over 80 albums, dropped out during the mid-seventies only to have resurgence in the 1990’s, thanks to being included in a few Pedro Almodovar
films as well as the movie, Frida
. Recently, Spanish singer Concha Buika
teamed up with Chucho Valdez to make a tribute album to Chavela called, El Ultimo Trago
, in which Buika credits Vargas for teaching her how to "make a monument out of loneliness."