Paco Pérez, “Luna de Xelajú” (ca. 1944)
The unofficial national anthem of Guatemala, sung by its composer pretty near the date of its composition. Xelajú (sometimes shortened to Xela) is the Mayan name for Quetzaltenango, the second-most important city in the country and a center for Mayan highland culture. The marimbas which form the bed for Pérez’s bolero-inflected croon are the national instrument; if to Western ears there’s the inescapable suggestion of 50s Exotica, the rustle and grind of the disc keeps this recording lodged firmly in the pre-hi-fi era.