Song of the Day #4,949: ‘Will the Wolf Survive?’ – Los Lobos

I own only one Los Lobos album, and that’s 1992’s Kiko, a rich and wide-ranging record that is widely considered their best.

More than ten years ago, when I first wrote about Kiko on the blog, commenter Phil made this suggestion: “Do yourself a favor and pickup Will the Wolf Survive and By the Light of the Moon.”

Well, it took me a decade, but I finally took his advice on one of those titles.

How Will the Wolf Survive? was Los Lobos’ 1984 major label debut. Three years before they became well-known worldwide for their cover of Ritchie Valens’ ‘La Bamba,’ the Los Angeles band made a critical splash with this collection of Latin-influenced rock.

Los Lobos paid their dues playing bars and weddings, and this album feels like the work of well-practiced musicians tearing through a set of crowd-pleasers. Whether exploring blues rock or diving into their Mexican roots, the band delivers these tunes with equal parts polish and grit.

I don’t hear the sonic and stylistic experimentation here that made Kiko such a treasure, but I would throw this album on in any setting and feel confident everybody in the room would appreciate it.

Today’s track, the album’s closer, is a touching look at a Mexican immigrant hoping to find a new life in the U.S. in an uncertain political climate. How sad that it could have been written yesterday.

Through the chill of winter
Running across a frozen lake
Hunters are out on his trail
All odds are against him
With a family to provide for
The one thing he must keep alive
Will the wolf survive?

Driftin’ by the roadside
Lines etched on an aging face
Wants to make some honest pay
Losing to the range war
He’s got two strong legs to guide him
Two strong arms keep him alive
Will the wolf survive?

Standing in the pouring rain
All alone in a world that’s changed
Running scared, now forced to hide
In a land where he once stood with pride
But he’ll find his way by the morning light

Sounds across the nation
Coming from your hearts and minds
Battered drums and old guitars
Singing songs of passion
It’s the truth that they all look for
Something they must keep alive
Will the wolf survive?
Will the wolf survive?

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,949: ‘Will the Wolf Survive?’ – Los Lobos

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    There was so much critical praise heaped on this album that, when I finally got around to hearing it, the record was saddled with the influence of high expectations such that I was, frankly, a bit underwhelmed. That said, hearing today’s SOTD reminds me that this album and Los Lobos are quite good.

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