Amid the noisy bustle of Mexico City, there is a particularly iconic sound echoing on repeat in the background. This recording blares from trucks that cruise the streets all across this massive city. The crews inside are looking to buy old household items and appliances to fix and resell or to just sell for scrap. Basically, they’re scrap metal haulers, and the recording is their pitch to prospective sellers. Their pitch culminates in "o algo de fierro viejo que vendan," which basically means “or any old metal thing you’re selling.” This last bit has become the recording’s namesake: fierro viejo, literally “old iron.”

How this recording (and its subsequent remixes for live performances and otherwise) managed to achieve icon status in Mexico is a story of an unlikely alchemy: a family that, through grit, talent and a bit of luck, transmuted scrap metal into poetry, music, and joy.

The Siren of Scrap Metal