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Borderland Music: Songs From The U.S.-Mexico Frontera

Ricky Munoz, lead singer of Intocalbe, performs in Juarez, Mexico earlier this month. Intocable, a band popular on both sides of the border, is inspired by Mexican music, country hits and rock bands like Def Leppard.
Kainaz Amaria/NPR
Ricky Munoz, lead singer of Intocalbe, performs in Juarez, Mexico earlier this month. Intocable, a band popular on both sides of the border, is inspired by Mexican music, country hits and rock bands like Def Leppard.

In some ways, borders that divide countries are concrete and inescapable. The border between Mexico and the U.S. is very real for the thousands who have died trying to cross it without papers; for those whose families are divided by it; for those living the nightmare of getting caught in the crossfire of a drug trade that seeps in through the borders' darkest hidden crevices.

In other ways, there's something hubristic and almost naive about trying to divide two cultures with a fence. Language, food, music and people will mix no matter how high the fence, and to try and stop it is like trying to stop a tsunami with your hands.

The mythology surrounding the border has always been powerful. It's a place where the law takes on visible, tangible expressions: a giant wall, a military presence, a fence. Yet border towns are always places of legal ambiguity and cultural transgression.

NPR recently took a trip alongside the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a visually stunning series called Borderland. It was a long drive, during which a lot of music played a key role. Join us for this episode of Alt.Latino as Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep regales us with stories of his borderland adventures and the music he collected en route. His notes and anecdotes about the different songs are included in our playlist below.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jasmine Garsd
Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.