Will the Wolf Survive?

Album: How Will the Wolf Survive? (1984)
Charted: 78

Songfacts®:

  • The "wolf" is a metaphor for a man who is striving to survive in a world that has outcast him: "Running scared, now forced to hide, in a land where he once stood with pride, but he'll find his way by the morning light."
  • The title for this song and album was derived from an issue of National Geographic, which contained an article headed: "Where Can the Wolf Survive?" Drummer and songwriter, Louie Perez, told Rolling Stone this headline resonated with Los Lobos, who had struggled for success in the US having come from Mexican roots: "It was like our group, our story: What is this beast, this animal that the record companies can't figure out? Will we be given the opportunity to make it or not?"
  • This was produced by T-Bone Burnett, who served as a backing guitarist for Bob Dylan before venturing into music production.
  • The American Country artist, Waylon Jennings, covered this song on his 1986 album, Will the Wolf Survive. Jennings' version peaked at #5 on the US Country chart.

    "It was great!" Perez said of Jennings' take on the tune. "Tony Joe White introduced him to the song, took the record over to him one day, and Waylon recorded his own version."
  • In 2003, Los Lobos' major label debut album, How Will the Wolf Survive?, was ranked at #461 on Rolling Stone magazine's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.
  • The overall theme of the song is about trying to sustain something that the band believed in that they saw slipping away. "We [Mexican-Americans] saw the importance of preserving our culture, and of passing along the traditions of our fathers," Perez explained to American Songwriter. "So it's all of that wrapped up into one song. But it's about America … I always thought of myself as an American kid. I grew up on Carl Reiner sitcoms. It all becomes kind of intuitive. Stuff bubbles to the top when the time calls for it. All of it is instilled into that one song."

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 13th 1985, Los Lobos performed "Will the Wolf Survive" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #87 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; the week before it was at #78 and that was also its peak position on the Top 100...
    It had entered the Top 100 on March 17th, 1985 at #84 and spent a total of 5 weeks on the chart...
    Los Lobos had two* other Top 100 records; "Come On, Let's Go" {#21 in 1987} and "La Bamba" {#1 for 3 weeks, beginning on August 23rd, 1987}...
    * Of course the two records were from the Richie Valens bio-movie 'La Bamba'.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Goodbye, Hello: Ten Farewell Tour Fake-Outs

Goodbye, Hello: Ten Farewell Tour Fake-OutsSong Writing

The 10 biggest "retirement tours" that didn't take.

Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa CarltonSongwriter Interviews

The "A Thousand Miles" singer on what she thinks of her song being used in White Chicks and how she captured a song from a dream.

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & TearsSongwriter Interviews

The longtime BS&T frontman tells the "Spinning Wheel" story, including the line he got from Joni Mitchell.

Victoria Williams

Victoria WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

Despite appearances on Carson, Leno and a Pennebaker film, Williams remains a hidden treasure.

Ramones

RamonesFact or Fiction

A band so baffling, even their names were contrived. Check your score in the Ramones version of Fact or Fiction.

Dino Cazares of Fear Factory

Dino Cazares of Fear FactorySongwriter Interviews

The guitarist/songwriter explains how he came up with his signature sound, and deconstructs some classic Fear Factory songs.