saw David Wax Museum last night and enjoyed myself immensely
lemme just say that donkey jawbone is a world class percussion instrument
and for the first time in my life I felt the desire to yell “you’re adorable” to a musician mid-show and someone beat me to it…but, Suz, girl, you’re adorable
David Wax: I basically translated “Chuchumbe” into English with a couple of embellishments. The story goes that the Catholic Church banned the song hundreds of years ago. According to the Church, the dance that accompanied the song was too sexually suggestive. Supposedly, the term “chuchumbe” comes from Senegal and means belly button and was a word brought over by Africans who worked as slaves on sugar plantations in southern Veracruz. Fortunately, as part of the prohibition of this song, the Church transcribed and locked away the words to prove how licentious it was.
Some 25 years ago, one of the leaders of the son jarocho revival, Gilberto Gutierrez Silva, came across the lyrics in an archive and put the words to music. The new version of “Chuchumbe” has become part of the son jarocho canon. As anyone listening to the lyrics can tell, the term “chuchumbe,” which may have originally meant belly button in Senegal has taken on a new meaning in Mexico.
So this song has had quite a journey, traveling from Senegal to Mexico to the Catholic Church’s inquisition archive to the son jarocho canon and now to an indie folk band in the States.