Gabriel San Roman
Slingshot: The Greatest Christmas Song of All Time!
Back in November, I did something I otherwise don't do all year: I turned the dial to KOST 103.5 F.M.
With some fanfare and a countdown, the station switched up its playlist from adult contemporary hits to holiday music. And that's how it'll stay. Every day. Nonstop. Past Christmas Day, even.
For some folks, Christmas songs are about as enjoyable as a Piccolo Pete firework shrieking into their exploding ear drums. I revel in them. I never tire of Andy Williams, Gene Autry, Nat King Cole or Vince Guaraldi Trio tunes.
I've accepted that I am what a friend deemed me to be a few years ago: a schmaltz.
Blame my dad. Christmastime is when his otherwise stoic self indulges in some seasonal sentimentalism. That's usually complimented by Johnny Mathis' classic "Merry Christmas" album.
Whatever it takes!
But I confess. I'm kind of burned out already. There's only so many times I can listen to the Trans Siberian Orchestra without feeling like I need to survive Christmas by tackling fellow shoppers at the mall before spiking my debit card at the cashier.
Or maybe it's the fact that we're still very much in a pandemic and set to eclipse 800,000 lives lost to this scourge of coronavirus unleashed upon this nation--and the world.
Well, there's still one song that can center my Christmas soul amid the chaos: "La peregrinación."
I first heard it by way of Inti-Illimani, a famous Chilean folk band. They recorded a Christmas performance of the song in 2019. But its roots trace decades back to Los Fronterizos, an Argentinian folk band.
The song is an epic retelling of the Holy Family's search for refuge before the birth of Christ and the rejection they encountered along the way. Only, the trek of Jose and Maria is set along the pampas.
And then I heard Mercedes Sosa's interpretation of "La peregrinación."
I instantly recalled what made me a fervent devotee of liberation theology as a younger man, back when I was a better Catholic.
Sosa's rich vocals with a backing choir are divinely inspired. And then comes the lyrics.
A la huella, a la huella
Jose y María
Con un dios escondido
The subtext isn't so subtle. How many Jose and Marias are refugees in our world today? Are they made to stay in Mexico at the U.S. border whether under a Trump or Biden administration? The southern Mexican border? Escaping Syria to Europe through Turkey?
And what if a savior swelled in a mother's womb as xenophobia casted her away? Or maybe it need not be a prophet, just a human who carries the divine spark of creation within them along a pilgrimage amid plunder.
We would be well reminded of these questions if songs like "La peregrinación" found their way to our Christmas radio dials and into our hearts.
- Gabriel San Román
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Disneyland came close to seeing its first strike since 1984, but alas there won't be any pixie dust picket lines this Holiday season. I reported on an unprecedented ratification split, a fissure that lasted two week until two holdout unions reversed course an approved a contract that boosted pay more than those in the past.
Read it here!
By the Bylines
I carried a tummy full of tacos as I visited and ate at a buncha grub spots in Anaheim. Some were unpermitted taco stand pop-ups. Others started as pop-up and became brick-and-mortars. And then there's the taco trucks in between!
But the scene has turned into one big whack-a-taquero game as the city teamed with the county to carry out carne asada crackdowns on the unpermitted pop-ups cause nothing says Merry Christmas quite like confiscations!
Read it here!
*Okay folks: I know I haven't been doing Slingshots much since I started my new jale. I'm still trying to figure out my new format--and all those creative questions. This will likely be the last of the year. See you Slingshoters in 2022. May the New Year have mercy on us ALL!