Los Lobos is one of the great American rock ’n’ roll bands. Hailing from East LA, the group got its start in the early 1970s playing Mexican folk music for restaurants and parties. The guys went on to merge those roots with a wide range of other musical traditions—rock, soul, country—to forge a truly American sound. A song that captures this American essence of Los Lobos is “One Time, One Night” from their third album. They are a national treasure.
Now, after half a century of work, Los Lobos is about to release an album covering songs from the members’ favorite LA artists. Native Sons opens with “Love Special Delivery” by Thee Midniters, an East LA garage band and one of the first Chicano rock groups to achieve a hit record in the United States. Other tracks come from the Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and Jackson Browne. One knock-down track is its take on War’s “The World Is a Ghetto.” (War, another pioneer in multicultural rock, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.)
To honor Browne, the band chose “Jamaica Say You Will.” This was the first song on Browne’s 1972 self-titled debut album. It’s a piano-driven love-song ballad with a true California feel—perhaps because, as Browne has said, the tune was written for a woman who worked in an organic orchard in Zuma Beach across from the Pacific Ocean. It doesn’t get much more California-in-the-’70s than that.
Here’s the premiere of Los Lobos’ version of “Jamaica Say You Will.”