Song of the Day: “Chan Chan”


The original Buena Vista Social Club was a members-only group that formed in Havana, Cuba, during the first half of the 20th century. The club became a cultural nexus for the city, drawing in musicians and artists who would perform at its events. Though widespread changes in Cuban society after the Revolution of 1959 resulted in the closure of Buena Vista, American guitarist Ry Cooder’s visit to the country in 1996 led to a special recording of traditional Afro-Cuban “son” music that recalled the colorful days of the original social club. Featuring some musicians in their eighties, like singer Compay Segundo, the album called Buena Vista Social Club begins with a deceptively simple, stately song loaded with historical value called “Chan Chan.”

Read more of Max Gray at Big City Sasquatch or follow him on Twitter @City_Sasquatch. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Encounters, Mount Hope, Conte,, and English Kills Review. He co-hosts the etymology podcast Words For Dinner and is a graduate of the Rutgers-Newark MFA program. More from this author →