One of my favorite movies growing up was the biopic about Richie Valenz(uela), La Bamba. The movie starring Lou Diamond Phillips as the 50s rock n’ roll pioneer is one of the reasons I love music from that era. I remember liking the movie because my mom liked it, and would point out that my grandpa and his family were migrant workers too – just like Richie and his family. (My grandfather and his family came to the Houston area to harvest sugar cane for the Imperial Sugar company in present-day Sugarland.)
What I loved most was the fact that Richie, the poor kid from the Valley – a fruit picker, could be as popular as he was in the 1950s. What could have easily been deemed “race” music, songs like La Bamba, Donna, and Come On Let’s Go, were instant hits across racial lines. I loved the music he made, and I loved the places his music took him. I also had an affinity for his home-life: it was not perfect, but was all that he had.
I will never forget the closing scenes when Bob, played by Esai Morales, and Connie, played by Rosanna DeSoto, screamed aloud after hearing news of the plane crash that killed Valenz, The Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly. The sadness I felt, and still feel today, is not just because the affectations of the movie are working. No, I feel the sadness of nearly 60 years of music lost to a snow storm in the MidWest.
The Los Lobos Version of We Belong Together:
The Original 1959 Recording of We Belong Together: