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Los Lobos trust in the creative process with 'Tin Can' album

July 9, 2010 |  4:29 pm

Los Lobos studio 
It was fascinating to watch a new Los Lobos song grow from conception to completion over the course of three days in the spring that I popped in and out of the group’s recording sessions for the new “Tin Can Trust” album coming out Aug. 3.

Part of the creative process I got to see up close involved the collaboration between longtime songwriting partners David Hidalgo and Louie Perez. Hidalgo usually comes up with the music first, then Perez writes the lyrics.

For the final song they were recording, “The Lady and the Rose,” Perez delivered the lyrics to Hidalgo in the studio the same day he was scheduled to record the vocal. After trying out what Perez had written, Hidalgo suggested they drop a line in the song’s chorus that Perez wrote to indicate who was talking. The line they eliminated was “…said the Lady of the Rose,” a reference to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the subject of the song.

Perez said he didn’t mind; Hidalgo often fine-tunes his lyrics so they feel comfortable as he sings them. So even though that line doesn’t appear in the finished song, they kept it as the title.

Then band member Steve Berlin added a twist of his own — inadvertently — when he sent Perez an MP3 file of the final mix of the track.

“If you recall,” Perez told me in an e-mail a couple of weeks later, “I had the line ‘the Lady of the Rose,’ which we decided not to use in the song, but reserve it as the title. Well, when Steve just sent this, he mistakenly labeled it ‘The Lady And the Rose.’ I really dig it better. So now I have a new title. I love when this ... happens. I find that if you don't resist, it can be like getting presents on your doorstep. Lots of grinning often ensues.”

Look for more on Los Lobos' recent recording sessions on the cover of Sunday's Arts & Books section.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo (l-r): David Hidalgo, Steve Berlin, Louie Perez and Cesar Rosas listen to playbacks on their new "Tin Can Trust" album at Manny's Estudio in Lincoln Heights. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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