Artists who make literary references in his or her lyrics do it to pay homage to great writers. Others do it to drive a theme through the song. But at times those references go unnoticed by music listeners.
But José Emilio Pacheco, one of Mexico’s most celebrated poets, has great gratitude for the rock band Café Tacvba for bringing new readers to his short story Las batallas en el desierto.
“I like it a lot and I’m very grateful, because you have no idea how many people have read the book [Las batallas] thanks to Café Tacvba,” Pacheco said in 2010 at a public event.
The band is one of Mexico’s most successful rock groups, and in its 1992 freshman self-titled album included the track “Las batallas,” which retells Pacheco’s story in the lyrics.
When asked by Peru’s newspaper El Peruano in 2010 what Pacheco thought about Café Tacvba’s song he had this to say jokingly: “A really young Peruvian writer, Santiago Roncagliolo, had told me he found out about the book thanks to Café Tacuba. He asked me how much [money] I have made. I responded not a single cent.”
The story is about Carlos a grade-school boy who falls in love with his friend’s attractive mother. When he confesses his love to her, his young life starts to unravel. His parents call him crazy and his friends start picking on him.
The book was published in 1981, but it is still one of Mexico’s most read books. Part of its success is the winsome story, but the book has been hailed because of it’s reminiscence of the country’s pop culture of the 1940s and United States’ cultural influence on Mexicans.
José Emilio Pacheco tells an anecdote of Café Tacvba, inviting him for dinner after a concert, at the National Autonomous University of Mexico with Mexican novelist Ignacio Solares in 2010.