Music September 28, 2007 By John Dickie

manu21 Manu Chao

     In his twenties, he formed Mano Negra, one of the seminal French rock bands of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s — who mostly sang in Spanish — and with whom he toured all over Latin America. After Mano Negra split, Manu returned to Mexico and Brazil to spend more time with friends and travel around. During this time, Clandestino was born. A collage of sounds and styles, it erupted like a mythical pirate radio station broadcasting to the world from an unknown Andean village. Just like the continent that spawned it, Clandestino is both tender and brutal. A child’s flute, a doorbell, or the beep of an answering machine are charged with an ominous sadness; an innocent little rhyme becomes a heart-wrenching cry for help: “¿Que hora son, mi corazón?” (”What time is it, my heart?”) — a phrase that has become a mantra for injustice. The road trip that is Clandestino went on to sell almost three million tickets. It was, and still is, the soundtrack to a generation across the Spanish-speaking world. As a Mexican friend told me at a wedding recently: “We all have a little piece of Manu Chao in us.”

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