Thee Eastside Theme Song Poll

When you think of the Eastside, what song(s) do you think of? Is there one definitive tune that can be called the Eastside Anthem? I’ve been trying to find the answer to those questions and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are too many factors to consider before attempting to define a song that embodies the broad richness and historical flavor of our Querido Eastside. For one thing, we must consider the era that holds the strongest meaning to us. Would you favor the “Classic” Eastside era of the 60’s and 70’s or beyond? And of course we must also filter our choices by the unique tastes of the various subcultures and cliques found in our community. The Cholo types might  have certain musical preferences as would the Low Riders, Old Skoolers, Cruisers, Disco era types, Rockers, Punks, Hip Hoppers, Regionals and so on. Do we consider if it’s a cruising song? or perhaps a dance number or a song just for kicking it Eastside style?
After much consideration, I decided to quit trying to find THE ONE and simply find the GROUP of songs that seem to define The Eastside.  I’ve compiled the following list in order for YOU the readers to have a voice in defining the top favorite Eastside songs. These choices may seem like the most obvious and popular, but these are some of my favorites and I’ve heard them in the Eastside forever. This is my list, what do YOU think???
•    Low Rider- War
•    Whittier Blvd- Thee Midnighters
•    Land of 1000 Dances- Cannibal And The Headhunters
•    Oye Como Va- Santana
•    Down Whittier Blvd- The Midnighters
down whittier blvd.
•    Viva Tirado- El Chicano
•    La Bamba- Ritchie Valens
•    Crystal Blue Persuasion- Tommy James & The Shondells
•    Living On Video- Trans X
•    Samba Pa Ti- Santana
•    Shotgun- Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
•    Grazing In The Grass- Hugh Masekela
•    Soulful Strut- Young Holt Unltd
•    Together- Tierra
•    Suavecito- Malo
•    Groovin- The Young Rascals
•    Reasons- Earth, Wind & Fire
•    Angel Baby- Rosie and The Originals
•    California Love- 2 Pac


Thanks to our great readers for adding the following songs!…

  • All Day Music- War[audio:]
  • The Town I live In- Thee Midnighters[audio:]
  • Sabor A Mi- Eydie Gorme and Trio Los Panchos[audio:]
  • Chicano Power-Thee Midnighters[audio:]
  • Sitting In The Park- Billy Stewart [audio:]
  • Se Me Paro- Johnny Chingas[audio:]

[poll id=”2″]

arte by Dsouthtexas

This entry was posted in culture, East Los, Eastside, eastside sound, history, Media, Musica, Pendejadas, polls, Uncategorized and tagged by AlDesmadre. Bookmark the permalink.

About AlDesmadre

Al Guerrero, Artist/Humorist. Los Angeles, CA. Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles from the age of two, Al Guerrero grew up just steps from the famous Chicano strip, Whittier Boulevard. His youth experiences include witnessing and participating in the 1970 Chicano Power demonstrations, cruising cars on Whittier Boulevard, and graduating from Garfield High School. After dropping out of UCLA (with honors), he drew upon his lifelong passion for art and cartooning and pursued a career in graphic arts. During this period, he traveled overseas and found artistic inspiration from the masterworks he discovered within the European Art Museums. His career blossomed when he was eventually hired by the Walt Disney Company in 1995, where he worked as a creative artist for a number of years. Although the artistic work was rewarding, he eventually grew weary & disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the entertainment business, and left to work briefly in the educational field. His credits include producing a feature film with actor, Conrad Brooks of Ed Wood fame, founding and performing with the Punk Rock group “The Psychocats” at numerous L.A. & Hollywood venues during the 1990’s, and in 1999 he founded and created a hell-bent puppet cabaret show aptly named: “The Puppets from Hell”. As a long time active member of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, Al “Quaeda”, as he was known, was involved in countless Cacophony Society pranks and events throughout the city. He also produced the “Incredibly Strange Cinema” cult film series as well as themed events such as the now infamous “Pornothon Movie Nights” and the satirical “Mexican Night: Noche De Tequila & Putas” shows at local nightclub venues. Throughout his art career, he has exhibited his canvas paintings at various local galleries, and has also written & illustrated numerous comic strips and Graphic Novel stories. Today, he lives in Silver Lake, California and works as a freelance artist and writer with numerous multi-media projects under his belt and in the works. His personal hobbies include collecting vintage toys and comic books, cinema history and Los Angeles City history. Contact: Al Guerrero P.O. Box 29697 Los Angeles, CA 90029-0697

35 thoughts on “Thee Eastside Theme Song Poll

  1. Nice picture to represent the eastide, we must “Represent” our beloved cholos.

  2. Cholos are but one small segment of Eastside society. That’s the reality. I chose that art for it’s picturesque and unique interpretation of Chicano life. Whatever lifestyle it represents is not my point here. I could have included 20 more diverse graphic interpretations but i chose one, expecting that our readers are intelligent enough to not jump to wild conclusions. Enjoy the music!

  3. Awesome Al! I was going to do a similar post and had interviewed my dad and uncles (all long-time Eastside musicians from the 60s-now) for their favorites. You got all the songs they mentioned plus some of the songs for the newer generation. Thanks for putting this post together! Go LA Eastside!

  4. P.S. Like the pic! It’s interesting that there is a sort of classic Eastside iconography which does revolve around low riders, vatos etc. and there is a classic Eastside era which in my opinion is the 70s. It’s not to say it can’t change or evolve but these things have become default cultural signifiers.

  5. Well, if Silver Lake is the new East Side, then there should be something by Sheryl Crow on there. 🙂

    BTW, Don Cheto, I didn’t know that Cesar Chavez and Our Lady of Guadalupe were cholos. In fact, the only characters in the mural who look like cholos are the man and woman on the bottom left. The guy on the upper left looks like a Pachuco from the WW2 era. “Confessin’ a feelin” is a song by 70s soul group, Sly, Slick and Wicked. I wasn’t aware they were cholos, or that their songs encourage a cholo lifestyle. I’m not certain of the origins of the “smile now, cry later” clowns, but I’m pretty sure it pre dates the cholo culture. I’d be willing to bet that it goes back to Europe, when plays used similar clown faces. There’s a song called “Smile Now, Cry Later” by ’60s soul group Sunny and The Sunliners. As far as I know, none of them were cholos. “Point of No Return” is a common American phrase which can apply to just about any situation involving a lifetime commitment to something. Considering the feminine eyes underneath the saying, it could just as easily signify a man’s commitment to a woman as it does a commitment to any gangster lifestyle. Back to the cholo looking guy on the lower left…I know a retired prison guard who dresses just like that. So, he could be a prison guard, too. Are prison guards cholos? Yikes. Don’t even answer…

  6. Chimatli, Thank you! you echo my sentiments exactly!

    Rob, I’d include Elliot Smith and the Silversun Pickups in that “Sounds of Silverlake New Eastside” compilation! LOL! By the way—-Congrats on YOUR new album I’ve just seen listed:

    BTW- Let’s start recognizing that there are some instigators with an agenda that come on here with remarks designed to destabilize and discredit anything we try do. I’d love it if we ceased to engage them in any further debates. I personally refuse to waste my time with their crap anymore. I think most of the intelligent readers on here are wising up to them too. 🙂

  7. AlDesmadre, no problem. I realized when it was too late to edit that I shouldn’t have engaged him. I actually know who it is. There’s a couple of blogs where he accuses everyone of being cholos or cholo sympathizers.

    As far as the poll goes, when I think of the East Side, I think, old, old school, so I’ve got to go with Angel Baby, Groovin, La Bamba, etc. A tie between all of those super old oldies.

  8. great songs, altho I’d ask for All day music by war and that the 2pac song that is much more appropriate for eastlos is to live and die in LA.

    I think actually, that eastlos and whittier have gone thru so many different phases that many of these songs are appropriate for different genres. I mention that because listening to the song list
    reminded me of the various generations of my familia

  9. I voted for Viva Tirado; however, a song that was left out which I would have voted for is Chicano Power by Thee Midniters or Sleepy Lagoon by Harry James. Even so, my votes if I could vote with individual preference in this list would be rank 1 for Viva Tirado, rank 2 for Whittier Blvd, and rank 3 Together.

    My votes are based on what songs would be indicative to have playing while strolling in the Eastside or which I can play wherever I am at and see myself in the Eastside. In that stroll, please, pretty please, lets avoid the Eastside Luv hipster “we are original Chicanos” block.

    California Love, really?!?!

  10. Al you got to start the Eastside music history at least as far back as the 30’s vato! All below I’ve heard over and over again from the Chicano history vaults (aka record collections), and juke boxes on the Eastside.

    The original Zoot Suiter, Cab Calloway doing the moon walk in the 30’s

    Artie Shaw and Billie Holiday

    Count Basie, Jumpin at the Woodside, great dancing and Eastside Chicanos dug this jitterbug with their own Chicano style, it was a thing of beauty to see.

    The great war WW2 and the Eastside represented heavily, it was the beginning of the end of the racism and discrimination Mexican Americans suffered. When they got back from the war the GI Forum, LULAC, and others were formed. These records were in most Chicano’s collection of 78’s as I remember as a kid, and many of the house party’s you’d see the original Pachuco’s dancing to these. “Flying Home” was the soldiers theme song coming back from the war. The tenor sax solo by legendary saxman Illinois Jaquett still sounds great. Of course Harry James “Sleepy Lagoon” has historical significance to the Eastside.

    Billie Eckstine’s great orchestra, very popular with Mexican Americans in the 40’s

    The late forty’s were the beginning of rock and roll and the Eastside was digging guys like Louie Jordan, Joe Liggins and the Honeydrippers, Earl Bostic, heard on all the jukeboxes.

    And a song very evocative of the Eastside in the 50’s as I recall and could be heard over and over on the radio and by youngsters practicing their horns,

    In the 50’s Joe Houston “All Night Long”, Chuck Higgins “Pachuco Hop” and Big Jay McNeely were blowin at the many battle of the bands dances.
    Also the 50’s were the beginning of the R&B groups that were so popular among the Eastside Chicanos and are still to be heard as Oldies 60 years later. These are some of the songs always heard at house party’s and dances.

    And many times when the party or dance was over and time to go this was played

    I got some more music that I think represents the Eastside from the 60’s to the present, I’ll be back as I think this topic by Al Desmadre is great and timely. But I agree, there’s no way one or two songs can represent the Eastside experience, that’s whats great about it.

  11. Dang DQ, you said it and beat me to it! i was gonna mention cab and “Hidee Hidee hidee ho” as well as anything from ornette coleman, mingus or the other cats you mentioned.

    My abuela used to frequent the clubs along central, back when even she’d be barely let in because she was dark brown, when the cops wouldnt let the white folks come in. Cab calloway and all that old LA jazz reminds me of her stories, those of my tios and abuelito tambien, and how they’d pull out the old records at family parties.

  12. These songs would make an excellent soundtrack for a tardeada on the Eastside. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard these songs while eating a taco de carne asada and sipping on a cold beer.

    I had this moment a few years ago on Chavez and Soto. “Oye Como Va” blared out of an Impala with two young men. The familiar bass line competed with the ranchera being played by some musicians outside of a burger stand. It seemed rather inauthentic, as if from a Gregory Nava music. Still, it was enjoyable.

    Voting is tough! How is there no Los Lobos on here? Also, I think “Sabor A Mi” deserves a spot too. Oh, and what about the early 90s when banda was king?

    (Btw, I didn’t know the names/artists behind some of these very familiar songs. Thanks for the education.)

  13. Why no mention of Vicente Fernandez, Vicente evokes so much emotion with his songs.?

    I have never heard such evocative lyrics as those from Vicente.

  14. Sabor A Mi has to be in the top ten Eastside songs, no contest, I was at a party in Glendale one time years ago and they played Sabor A Mi sung by Edie Gorme and Trio Los Panchos, one of the ladies said real loud “All right! Now this is just like an East LA wedding”
    Everyone (that knew what she was talking about), cracked up because Sabor A Mi was heard at every Eastside wedding, it was automatic.

    Art, yeah! How could there be a favorite song or artist reresenting the Eastside without paying homage to the spectacular Cab Calloway. The inventor of the Zoot Suit, the moonwalk, the cat all the Betty Boop songs revolve around,(don’t forget Betty Boop as an Eastside icon), Cab Calloway who did all the getting high songs way back in the thirty’s.
    And I personally would dig it if you threw down some of the great jazz numbers that have always been a part of the Eastside. I’m still putting together some more for the list from my memory banks. Theres just so much music that the Eastside took to.

  15. Great songs and great memories and here’s a few more:

    Don Tosti (and Lalo Guerrero) doing the “Pachuco Boogie”.

    Back in the ’80’s and ’90’s, it seemed I could not attend a quincenera or a boda without hearing some older guys bust out their inner Vicente Fernandez with “Volver,Volver”.

    I know this one is weird, without any references to chicanismo whatsoever, but in a quarter century of supervising teenage dances on the East Side, I have yet to escape without hearing “Riding on the Metro” by Berlin(!?!). It’s almost like its a contractual agreement with the DJ community. What’s up with that?

  16. Art- you are right. I would include War’s “All Day Music on my list.

    Thanks Don Q for filling in the musical timeline from that period before my time. Those early years need to be taken into account as well, we’re lucky to have you to educate us on that early Eastside music.
    My parents played that Edie Gorme and Los Panchos album all the time and I’ve bought the cd myself to relive those times. We also had a lot of Trini Lopez records and of course the classic “Whipped Cream and other Delights” by Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass. The majority of music my parents (first gen immigrants)played was by Mexican, So. Amer and Caribbean artists. Mambo, Cha-cha-cha, Danzones, Guitar trios and at parties it was Cumbias with the likes of Mike Laure and Chelo y su Conjunto and El Gran Combo.

  17. Thanks again Al, great post that I think proves it impossible to pick just one Eastside song as tops, or even a couple of dozen.

    These were all heard on the LA Eastside back in the day.

    Herbie Hancock, Watermelon Man

    Lee Morgan, Sidewinder

    Cal Tjader who was always playing at clubs around LA and the Eastside, Guachi Guara could always be heard on the jukebox of the various bars

    Willie Bobo who lived in Highland Park for many years gave us the beautiful “Dindi”
    Bobo who played with Cal Tjader as did Mongo Santamaria, Armando Peraza, and the great Chicano Salsero Poncho Sanchez.

    Speaking of Poncho Sanchez, who’s almost an Eastside dude, (Norwalk, what you say?), here he is doing Cal Tjaders “I Showed Them” . Poncho Sanchez will make you get up and dance when at his live performances.

    And cruising the Eastside listening to Ray Barretto’s “El Watusi” Yeah!

    I couldn’t find Herbie Mann’s “Live At The Village Gate” but “Coming Home Baby” was a very popular jazz song from the day. Lots of other jazz and latin jazz songs that we dug back then.

  18. Gracias carnale, its like the old family parties I grew up in (and snuck away from to get into trouble, hehe) when I go thru those songs. I also didnt know the names of several songs or groups on there, and Im very much appreciative now so I can identify the music of my childhood-life.

    I think the best part (beyond the tunes) about this post is the personal stories behind them, here’s some of mine that were manifested listening to the songs:

    Being a 3rd gener chicano from eastlos, with 3 generations of veteranos in my gente, these songs almost embody each group of my family.

    My dad was a disco cholo in the 1970s, the player brother from Boulevard Nights being the character he embodied. The songs Together and Suavecito are basically the musical epitome of my pops, or vice versa and my pops is the human embodiment of those songs. He barely let go of his monte carlo a few years back when the city towed it for being in the front yard too long. In his honor I’d also note “youre still a young man” as another eastside ultimate.

    Samba pa ti was the song I danced with my mom to when i got married, man was she pedo. She used to sing that song to me when i was young at parties after she had a few, reminds me of us fighting the world together, her being a chicana single mother and me her curly haired guard dog with Snoopy doll. Makes me both sad and warm inside.

    The year before my OG veterana tia died we threw her a big partay. My hopped up tio (her son) sang “reasons” in a perfect high pitch for like 10 minutes. The audience mood went from elation at Lil brucey singing for tia maya, to laughter at him getting down and hitting the high notes, to concern when he didnt stop and solo’ed, to horror when we all realized how skinny he got again and that he was on A BIG ONE and must have fallen off the wagon. He fortunately sobered up for the last time and was able to get out to be with his mom before she passed. My aunt Maya was the hood mom for both VNE and Winter Gardens varrios, she was that kind of lady. I still remember the train making her little place shake near Union Pacific.

    Living on video is a song I didnt know who made or the name of, but was the soundtrack to my childhood. Hearing that song and a few other of those high energy jams still makes me smell mojitos that I would steal from party tables as a kid. Mandale reminds me of wanting to go home from parties as a kid while moms was still jammin out.

    Finally Angel baby, the song still makes my eyes tear up. It makes me think of my abuelos at Kennedy Hall and all their hardships being brown in a time of outright racism. It makes me think of abuelo being a torn pachuco and WW2 veteran, my uncle ray from VNE losing his leg to diabetes, one of the 2 legs he stormed normandie with. My abeula working at the old Coca Cola boat building, and crying as the zoot suit riots went down and she ran home; or the japonese factory owner sexually harassing her when they were braceros in the central valley. Angel baby captures a certain pain synonymous with chicanos and eastlos. It is the chola makeup on the weathered cheeks of my bulldog faced tias, crying about somebody or other being locked up.

    Gracias again carnale, I just gave my boys a musical education on eastlos and went down memory lane. all I need is a joint of some shitty mota and Im set!

  19. For the record, some of Chente’s most famous songs were written by José Alfredo Jimenez. “Volver, Volver” was written by Fernando Z. Maldonado. Sure, he sings the hell out of them, but they’re not his lyrics.

  20. Art, your letter is absolutely beautiful. I’m going to frame it!

    Ramon- I personally, (with apologies to his fans) never thought Vicente F. was all that. That’s just me sayin…
    Also, I was trying to gather the Chicano music genre more so than traditional Mexican music that we listen to over here in the U.S.A.

  21. Al, again thanks for the great inspirational post.
    And Art’s last post was proof of how Eastsiders not only feel and are passionate about their music, but how much music plays a role in our lives and memory’s.
    Buen jale Al!

  22. I’m gonna go with War’s Lowrider, just because it used to be Nomar Garciaparras at bat song and every time he came to bat, that song made the place go wild.

  23. This is an awesome list of songs and many good ones at that! But I like Angel Baby.

  24. Cindylu,

    Interesting that you point out the truth about ‘Cente and his classics. I was the subject of ridicule (called a pocho or coconut) when I didnt recognize what the letters JAJ referred to inside a friend’s email party invite (used as follows: Tunes: rock/pop, depeche mode, JAJ)

  25. Thanks Don Q,
    I love Willie Bobo’s Fried Neckbones, along with Manteca played by Dizzy G., Cal Tjader’ Aquarius. I own the Herbie Mann Live at the Village Gate classic CD. It never get’s old man, “Summertime” wow!. How about Horace Silver? Song for my Father?
    ..and let’s not forget my favorite kick-ass movie score composer from Argentina; Lalo Schiffrin

  26. 10-4 Al, you show you have good taste in jazz with your picks. Horace Silver is one of the great LA jazz giants and he’s still with us thank the Lord.
    Another great jazz composition that was very popular in LA back when was Chico Hamilton’s “Forest Flower Sunrise / Forest Flower Sunset featuring the virtuoso reed man Charles Lloyd. It’s tough to find anymore though.
    Manteca, yeah! Diz blowing hard with the great Chano Pozo.

  27. Gustavo, that’s one I left out because I was going for the broadest appeal I could find among particular tunes. I personally like “The Town I live In”, also “16 with a Bullet” and “I’m your Puppet” and others but I had to draw the line somewhere.

  28. Al, Gustavo’s correct “The Town I Live In” has to be on the Eastsides top music list. And now that I think of it how about “Sitting In The Park” by Billy Stewart? Gotta be there.

  29. Thanks to all you Vatos for filling in the blanks! I’ll put those songs on here and then I think we’ll have the definitive sampling of Eastside anthems on this post!!

  30. I must say, one of my fondest East LA/music connections started out on TV. As a youngster, I was watching a re-run on pbs of El Espejo (at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself it was). They were profiling youth in East LA. As I recall the episode, a cholo youth… maybe late teens, early 20’s, is getting into a lowrider with his girlfriend(?). As they are filming this couple drive away – from Estrada Courts no less – we hear Ralfi Pagan’s Make It With You. First time I ever heard the sound/song and I got hooked. I remember driving back from a night in hollywood, speeding up to make it through the 2nd street tunnel in downtown as Huggie Boy announced the song- I wanted to make sure KRLA’s AM signal was not lost.

    I’ve voted for Suavecito, but Make It With You needs a mention.

  31. Here’s my Eastside top ten influenced by radio play and memories:
    1.War’s greatest hits- War is more than just “Lowrider”; how about “Slipping into Darkness”?,”Me and Baby Brother”?,”All Day Music”?”Why can’t we be Friends?”? and of course “Spill that wine” with Eric Burdon.Oh yeah, “Cinco De Mayo” gets a lot of airplay
    3.”Viva Tirado”-El Chicano
    5.”Casual Dreaming”-Thee Midniters; I know people would list other midniter songs but this one is just the coolest to me.
    6.”Angel Baby”- this use to get on my nerves as a kid because all the local hoods would be blasting this on my street back in the 70’s and 80’s. I lived on George Street in Lincoln Heights.Still you can’t deny it’s impact.
    7.”LA Bamba”- either Ritchie Valens or Los Lobos versions
    8.”Land of a 1,000 Dances”-Cannibal and the Headhunters;na-na -na-na-na-na-na”They toured with the Beatles, 4 years later “hey jude” uses na-nas, coincidence? I think not!
    9.”La Raza”-Kid Frost. I remember hearing this blaring out of speakers as I marched to commemorate the 20th anniversary of August 29th in 1990. “viva tirado” strikes again.
    10.Rage against the Machine-“down rodeo”, “bulls on parade”( i recall body slamming with some chicano sumo to this in front of the Democratic National convention in 2000)(Also contrary to popular belief, the police started rioting when Ozomatli came on not when Rage played)”People of the Sun”, “Mic Cheka””Calm Like A bomb”. How does these songs qualify as part of the Eastside sound? Zack De La Roca’s dad Beto lived in Lincoln Heights and Zack would spend some of his weekends there.
    Honarable mentions:
    Delinquent Habits “Good Times” a personal favorite.
    Also let’s not forget all the great music our parents use to crank up: Sinora Dinamita and other Salsa greats,Chente,Javier Solis,Los Tigres Del Norte,Jose Jose,Los Apson: “haste un lado!” “Por quanto me lo das”
    Can you recall that one song where this latina lady yells “Ah-ah ah” at the top of her lungs? it’s the something colorada.
    Also there’s a lot of classic rock from
    Ac-dc to Zep that alot of eastsider would proudly acknowledge as their soundtrack growing up as well as disco and dance music blaring from house parties: “My Forbidden Lover””Living on video””Lookout Weekend”Debbie Deb.others!_

  32. From Jazz to Rap and everything in between, it’s all good.
    Those old songs remind me of an old girlfriend I had 40 years ago.
    She cut my heart out and stomped on it, but like East L. A.,
    when it’s in your blood you never forget.

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