Recently, I joined Spotify and have been enjoying its many features and functions while I exercise at the gym. A friend suggested that it would be great if I developed a “soundtrack” for The Five Acts of Diego León because the music of the time period the book spans was particularly interesting and significant. Now I know that book soundtracks aren’t anything new; I’ll admit to being a little behind the game. Nonetheless, I had a great time developing this list, which I feel is a good accompaniment to the book. Many of these tracks were ones I listened to inspire me as I wrote, others I discovered while I researched, and still others are songs that I feel “capture” a certain mood or tone given a specific context or section of the novel. For example, Irving Kaufman’s whimsical “Masculine Women! Feminine Men!” comes in at ACT IV, right about the moment when Diego and Fiona join Nick and Georgie for a wild night out at The Babylon, a gay drag club. Some of these tracks are old standards, like Fred Astaire’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” while others are a little more obscure like Josephine Baker’s lovely rendition of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” sung partly in French. From old corridos of the Mexican Revolution to P’urhépecha pirekuas, from classic opera to bawdy blues and swinging jazz hits, I’ve included a range of musical styles that I hope capture the book’s scope. Each act, grouped under subtitles, has four corresponding tracks. Hopefully these songs will help readers place the book in a larger context. Enjoy!

The Five Acts of Diego León: The Soundtrack


Track 1:         General Porfirio Diaz by Dueto Acosta

Track 2:         La rielera by Lola Beltrán

Track 3:         Rosa de Castilla by Los Folkloristas

Track 4:         Flor de Canela by Artistas de Xcaret


Track 5:         Estrellita by Amelita Galli-Curci (M. Ponce, composer)

Track 6:         Vin ou bière  (Faust: Opera in Five Acts) by Gounod

Track 7:         Xochipilli by Vivo SW Chamber Music (C. Chávez, composer)

Track 8:         She’s Got “It” by Harry Reser


Track 9:         Blue Skies by Al Jolson

Track 10:       I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover by Nick Lucas

Track 11:        Empty Bed Blues by Bessie Smith

Track 12:        Let’s Misbehave by Various/Cole Porter


Track 13:        Puttin’ On The Ritz by Fred Astaire

Track 14:       Masculine Women! Feminine Men! by Irving Kaufman

Track 15:        Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? by Bing Crosby

Track 16:        La Cucaracha by Louis Armstrong


Track 17:        You Oughta Be in Pictures by Rudy Vallee

Track 18:        I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Josephine Baker

Track 19:        These Foolish Things by Billie Holiday

Track 20:        No Regrets by Billie Holiday