I never knew the perfect time for Freddy Fender until this morning. It was barely 6 o'clock, about the time Baldemar Garza Huerta might have been heading into the migrant fields in his youth.
It was still surprisingly dark as Lewie and I cruised Cortez Road with a steaming coffee in the cupholder and a yellow moon still visible in the June sky. I popped a disc into the player as we drove toward Anna Maria Island, looking for who-knows-what. Maybe a rack with a newspaper in it.
If he brings you happiness
Then i wish you all the best
It's your happiness that matters most of all
But if he ever breaks your heart
If the teardrops ever start
I'll be there before the next teardrop falls
I had made a great buy the previous day at Vinyl Fever in Tampa. There were a few others, but a "previously loved'' CD like The Freddy Fender Collection is almost as easy on the pocketbook as it is on the ears.
The soulful Tex-Mex voice brought me back to 1975, my first year living in Florida. Fender came that year like a bullet out of nowhere, which is to say the Texas town of San Bernito, debuting on the Billboard charts with three consecutive No. 1 songs. "Before the Next Teardrop Falls'' was the CMA Single of the Year, and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights'' gave him back-to-back gold records.
El Bebop Kid was as hot as a branding iron. He could have recorded a Doris Day song at that point and people would have bought it. In fact he did, and they did. His third No. 1 was "Secret Love'', a pop hit for Day in 1954.
Fender had several other top 10 songs, and would later rejuvenate his career with the Texas Tornados in 1990, but there was no way to sustain such a torrid start. And nothing he did ever topped "Before the Next Teardrop Falls'' in my book. But don't take my word for it.
We lost Fender in 2006 to lung cancer, but his music legacy lives on. He was singing to us as we drove into the sleepy fishing village of Cortez, finally shaking the cobwebs as we heard that Spanish warble.
Si te quire de verdad
Y te da felicidad
Te deseo lo mas bueno pa'los dos
Pero si te hace llorar
A mime puedes hablar
Y estare contigo cuando treste estas