Do any of you speak Spanish? I studied the language in high school, but I must’ve goofed off a little too much in that class. If you do speak it well, check out the 24 songs sung in Spanish on Freddy Fender’s album “Canciones de Mi Barrio.” Fender was born Baldemar Huerta in San Benito, Tx. on June 4, 1937. In 1959, he took “Freddy Fender” as his rockabilly stage name. “Fender” came from the brand of his electric guitar, and “Freddy” just sounded good for a first name.
Recorded between 1959-64 for a small Texas label (Ideal), 24 of his earliest Tejano rock recordings are compiled on this album. Subtitled “The Roots of Tejano Rock,” the Arhoolie label reissued “Canciones de Mi Barrio” in 1993. It unfortunately doesn’t include his version (recorded in 1957) of “No Seas Cruel” (a Spanish version of “Don’t Be Cruel”), but that song is available on two other recent reissues on Master Classics Records.
Freddy Fender was obviously influenced greatly by Elvis, and his versions of “(You’re the) Devil in Disguise” and "No Seas Cruel" are unique. I’ve always enjoyed his strong, clear voice. Freddy Fender did a lot to connect and bring rock ‘n roll, country, pop and Tex-Mex to Hispanic audiences. And I might’ve even learned more Spanish if my high school teacher had used his music in class.