The Mexican corrido

Mexico, Revolution in the South, 1912. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.
Fleur du Printemps has also answered our appeal to our Readers to send us the songs telling about their history, presenting us this beautiful bouquet of the corridos of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). The photos commenting the texts are by the photographer of the Revolution Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938).

The corridos are the Mexican offsprings of the Spanish romance. They express feelings and ideas, triumphs and defeats, pains and happiness which are so overflowing to constitute a collective importance for the Mexican folk. The corrido is the language of the people. At one time it played the role of the press: the news used to spread all over the countryside in songs, rather than in newspapers which were no important sources of information in an overwhelmingly illiterate country. Only the most important events or the great personalities deserved to be sung about in a corrido, but they sometimes also immortalize scenes of the everyday life of the internal parts of the country.

Mexico, Revolution. Women disembarking from a train. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.
The corrido is characterized by spontaneity, and by a simple language and melody. It uses few poetic tools, but it is very concise, and gives more importance to the rhythm than to the form. Its classical form is the quatrain 8a 8b 8a 8b which also permits more than one poems to be sung with the same melody. This is why they can also easily be modified and actualized, so that one corrido lives on in several versions.

Mexico, Revolution. Soldiers in family circle. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.
According to the man of letters, politician, speaker and poet of native Mexican blood Andrés Henestrosa, the circumstances favorable to the birth of the corrido were provided by the formation of national feeling and identity. It was born together with the Independence, but it reached its climax during the Revolution, with the collective rejection of “Porfirism” that took its name from the Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz (1876-1911) and of forced Europization (Díaz was one of the great promoters of French culture among the Mexican high society). This was the longest and most supported phase of national rebirth, the one with the deepest roots in Mexican reality, and therefore the most popular one.

Mexico, Revolution, Photo of a woman walking next to a line of mounted Zapatista. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.
The Revolution originated in the conflict between the new parties, as the old ones ceased to exist with the arrival of Porfirio Díaz to the power. The resistance against his reelection was organized by Francisco I. Madero who also launched the armed rebellion. Later the movement was divided in factions, as in fact it was never united but by the hatred against the common enemy, that is Díaz. The factions were formed according to the most influential generals and the regions where they camped. The most important ones were Venustiano Carranza in the North (it was him to prepare the Constitution of 1917, still in force in Mexico), Emiliano Zapata in Central Mexico, Pancho Villa, Pascual Orozco and Álvaro Obregón in the North (Obregón was to become the co-founder of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario, predecessor of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional that maintained the power from the foundation of the PNR in 1929 until 2000).

Mexico, Revolution. General Zapata on horseback. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.
However, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata were the personalities embraced by the greatest popular devotion, and their names have been used to give credit to certain movements, like the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) or the Frente Popular Francisco Villa (FPFV).

I have chosen some of the most famous corridos, and some of those that I like the most, hoping that you would also love them. Enjoy.

Mexico, Revolution. Revolutionary soldier aboard a train holding the hand of a woman on the ground. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.
La Rielera. I learned this corrido while singing in the school choir, and I have always loved it. The rielera – the railwaywoman – worked for the railways, in this case for the central railways connecting the city of México with the North. Lerdo, Gómez and Torreón are cities in the northern states (Durango and Coahuila) which at that time were important mining regions, especially Torreón. This song is from the period of the Revolution splitting into factions, when the Carrancistas (of Venustiano Carranza) fought against the Villistas (of Francisco Villa).

I’m a railwaywoman and I love Juan
he’s my life and I’m his delight;
when they say the train is leaving,
adiós, my railwaywoman, your Juan is leaving.

When the engine-driver says
that the train is leaving for San Juan,
I already bring his basket
with which he’s going to refine.

I have a pair of pistols
with an ivory head
to defend myself, if necessary,
against those of the railway.

I have a pair of pistols
with a precise aiming
with one shot for my lover
and another for my enemy.

Adiós, boys of Lerdo,
of Gómez and of Torreón
the maintainers are already leaving
the turn is over forever.

I have a pair of horses
for the Revolution
one is called Robin
and the other Sparrow.

They say the Carrancistas
are like scorpion
when the Villistas are coming
they run away with lifted tail.

I know that as you see me in uniform
you believe I come to ask of you
although I come to you, brown girl,
to look for your favors.

As you see me in boots
you believe me to be a soldier
although I’m only a poor railwayman
at the Central Railways.

Yo soy rielera y tengo mi Juan,
él es mi vida yo soy su querer;
cuando me dicen que ya se va el tren,
adiós mi rielera ya se va tu Juan.

Cuando dice el conductor,
va salir para San Juan,
le llevo su canastita
con la que va a refinar.

Tengo mi par de pistolas,
con sus cachas de marfil,
para darme de balazos
con los del ferrocarril.

Tengo mi par de pistolas
con su parque muy cabal,
una para mi querida
y otra para mi rival.

Adiós muchachos de Lerdo,
de Gómez y de Torreón,
ya se van los garroteros,
ya se acabo la función.

Tengo mi par de caballos
para la Revolución,
uno se llama el Jilguero
y otro de llama el Gorrión.

Dicen que los carrancistas
parecen un alacrán,
cuando ven a los villistas
alzan la cola y se van.

So porque me ves de traje
crees que te voy a pedir,
solo quiero prieta chula
tus favores conseguir.

Si porque me ves con botas
piensas que soy melitar, [militar]
soy un pobre rielerito
del Ferrocarril Central.

Mexico, Revolution. Armed soldadera. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.
La Adelita. This is one of the most famous Mexican corridos. The Revolution was not only the case of the soldiers. The troops were also followed by women and children who took care of the solders and feeded them, healed the ill and the wounded, etc. [This is a scene with the famous actresses María Félix and Dolores del Río, in a film from the golden age of the Mexican cinema, that presented the women following the soldiers in the time of the war.]

On the top of the rocky mountain
there was an army camped
and a courageous women followed them
fallen in love with the sergeant.

Everyone appreciated Adelita
who loved the sergeant
as she was courageous and beautiful
even the colonel estimated her.

And they heard that it was told
by him who loved her so much:

If Adelita wanted to be mine
if Adelita wanted to be my wife
I’d buy her a silk garment
to take her to dance in the caserm.

And if Adelita went with another
I’d follow her over land and sea
with a battleship on the sea
and with a military train on land.

And as the cruel battle was over
and the army retired to the camp
the sobbing of a woman was heard
her crying filling the whole camp.

The sergeant heared it, and fearing
to loose his adored forever
concealing his pain in himself
he sang like this to his lover:

And they heard that it was told
by him who was dying so much:

And if I died in the battle
and my body was buried there
Adelita, I ask you for God
to come there and cry over me.

En lo alto de una abrupta serranía,
acampado se encontraba un regimiento,
y una joven que valiente lo seguía,
locamente enamorada del sargento.

Popular entre la tropa era Adelita,
las mujer que el sargento idolatraba,
que además de ser valiente era bonita,
que hasta el mismo coronel la respetaba.

Y se oía, que decía,
aquel que tanto la quería:

Y si Adelita quisiera ser mi esposa,
si Adelita fuera mi mujer,
le compraría un vestido de seda
para llevarle a bailar al cuartel.

Y si Adelita se fuera con otro,
la seguiría por tierra y por mar,
si por mar en un buque de guerra,
si por tierra en un tren militar.

Y después que termino la cruel batalla
y la tropa regresó a su campamento,
se oye la voz de una mujer que sollozaba,
su plegaria se escucho en el campamento.

Al oírla el sargento temeroso,
de perder para siempre a su adorada,
ocultando su dolor bajo el esbozo
a su amada le cantó de esta manera:

Y se oía, que decía,
aquel que tanto se moría:

Y si acaso yo muero en campaña,
y mi cadáver lo van a sepultar,
Adelita por Dios te lo ruego,
que con tus ojos me vayas a llorar.

Mexico, Revolution. General Pancho Villa on horseback
El Mayor de los Dorados. The dorados (“gilded ones”) were the “elit forces” of Pancho Villa, the most famous general together with Emiliano Zapata. Villa fought in the North. Parral is in Chihuahua, a border state near to the United States. This corrido is also from the splitting of the Revolution in factions. Álvaro Obregón was a very important and very competent general, later President of Mexico.

I was the soldier of Francisco Villa
of the world famous general
who, even if sitting on a simple chair
did not envy that of the President.

Now I live on the seashore
remembering those immortal times
Ay… Ay…
Now I live on the seashore
remembering Parral and Villa.

I was one of the dorados
made a Major by chance
and made crippled by the war
while defending the country and honor.

I remember of times past
how we fought against the invader
today I recall the times past
the dorados of whom I was a Major.

My horse, ridden so many times by me
died under me in Jiménez
a bullet intended to me
run across his body.

While dying, he neighed of pain
and gave his life for the country
Ay… Ay…
while dying, he neighed of pain
how much I cried when he died!

Pancho Villa, I keep you
in my memories and in my heart
even if sometimes we were beaten
by the troops of Álvaro Obregón.

I was always your loyal soldier
until the end of the Revolution
Ay… Ay…
I was always your loyal soldier
fighting always in front of the cannons.

Fui soldado de Francisco Villa
de aquel hombre de fama mundial,
que aunque estuvo sentado en la silla
no envidiaba la presidencial.

Ahora vivo allá por la orilla
recordando aquel tiempo inmortal.
Ay… Ay…
Ahora vivo allá por la orilla
recordando a Villa allá por Parral.

Yo fui uno de aquellos Dorados
que por suerte llegó a ser Mayor,
por la lucha quedamos lisiados
defendiendo la patria y honor.

Hoy recuerdo los tiempos pasados
que peleamos contra el invasor,
hoy recuerdo los tiempos pasados
de aquellos Dorados que yo fui Mayor.

Mi caballo que tanto montara
en Jiménez la muerte encontró,
una bala que a mí me tocaba
a su cuerpo se le atravesó.

Al morir de dolor relinchaba
por la patria la vida entregó
Ay… Ay…
Al morir de dolor relinchaba
cómo le llorara cuando se murió.

Pancho Villa te llevo grabado
en mi mente y en mi corazón
y aunque a veces me vi derrotado
por las fuerzas de Álvaro Obregón.

Siempre anduve como fiel soldado
hasta el fin de la revolución
Ay… Ay…
Siempre anduve como fiel soldado
que siempre ha luchado al pié del cañón.

Mexico, Revolution. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.
Caballo Prieto Azabache. (My dark horse) Ah, this is one of my favorite corridos. It speaks of a soldier crying for his horse who had saved his life when the troops of Villa were going to execute him. The Mauser were the firearms used in the Revolution. They were first imported from Germany to Mexico by Porfirio Díaz who also founded a local factory to produce them.

My dark horse, how could I
forget you, I own you my life
when the troops loyal to Pancho Villa
were going to execute me

It was a cloudy night
and I was surprised by an outpost
and having disarmed me
they sentenced me to death.

As I was already in the death cell
Villa was saying to his aide-de-camp
put this horse for me aside
as it is educated and obedient.

I know I cannot escape
but I kept thinking about it
and you, my dark horse
were thinking exactly like me.

I remember being asked of what is
my last desire before the death
and I told, I wanted to die
sitting on my dark horse.

And when I was put on you
and were going to execute me
you only expected my command
and jumped over the wall.

With three Mauser bullets in your body
you galloped, my dark one, saving my life
what you’ve done for me, my horse,
my friend, I will never forget you.

I was unable to save yours
and I can only cry of grief
therefore, my dark horse
I will not forget you ever.

Caballo prieto azabache,
como olvidarte te debo la vida.
Cuando iban a fusilarme,
las fuerzas leales de Pancho Villa.

Fue aquella noche nublada,
una avanzada me sorprendió.
Y…después de… de…sar…marme,
fui condenado al paredón.

Ya cuando estuve en capilla,
le dijo Villa a su asistente,
me apartas ese caballo
por educado y obediente.

Sabia que no iba a escaparme,
solo pensaba en mi salvación,
Y tú mi prieto azabache
también pensaste igual que yo.

Recuerdo que me dijeron
pide un deseo pa'[para] justiciarte
yo quiero morir monta'o [montado] en mi caballo
prieto azabache.

Y cuando en ti me montaron
y prepararon, la ejecución,
mi voz de mando esperaste
te abalanzaste sobre el pelotón.

con tres balazos de mauser,
corriste azabache, salvando mi vida,
lo que tu hiciste conmigo
caballo amigo no se me olvida.

No pude salvar la tuya,
y la amargura me hace llorar,
por eso prie…to a…za…bache,
no he de olvidarte nunca jamás.

Mexico, Revolution. Soldiers. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.
La Cucaracha. (The cockroach) One of the most popular songs of the Revolution in Mexico and the best known one in abroad. As children, we were taught a very innocent version in the school, with no marijuana and no revolutionaries in the lyrics.

Mexico, Revolution. Song sheet of the corrido La Cucaracha

The cockroach, the cockroach
cannot walk any more
as he has no more
marijuana to smoke.

The Carrancistas are leaving
they are leaving with empty stomach
for the Villistas say
they are going to die of hunger.

Poor cockroach
is bitterly complaining
that he has no ironed clothes
because of the lack of carbon.


Poor Madero is left
by almost everyone
Huerta, the drunken bandit
is only good for an ox to plough.

We take unstarched clothes
day after day
and without such chic
we are considered blockheads.


Everyone is fighting for the chair
which is the source of much money
Pancho Villa at the North
and at the South viva Zapata!

I am excited to laugh at one thing:
to see Pancho Villa without a shirt
and I am terrified by one thing:
to see the vile Huerta in a shirt.


I need a good Ford
to arrive to the place
where the Convention
was sent by Zapata.

A colorful parrot
says to a mottled one
whoever jokes with my country
let him be taken by the …


Some plunder a lot
and then are hidden far away
protected by the law
while we are considered guilty.


How beautiful are the camp-followers
when dancing the fandango
Viva Pánfilo Natera
the pride of Durango.

The cockroach is already dead
he is taken to be buried
he is followed by four eagles
and by the mouse of the church.

La Cucaracha, la cucaracha,
ya no puede caminar,
porque no tiene, porque le falta,
marihuana que fumar.

Ya se van los carrancistas,
ya se van por el alambre,
porque dicen los villistas,
que se estarán muriendo de hambre.

Pobre de la Cucaracha,
se queja con decepción,
de no usar ropa planchada,
por la escasez de carbón.


Pobrecito de Madero,
casi todos le han fallado,
Huerta el ebrio bandolero,
es un buey para el arado.

La ropa sin almidón,
se pone todos los días;
y sin esas boberías,
se me figura melón.


¡Todos se pelean la silla
que les deja mucha plata;
en el Norte Pancho Villa,
y en el Sur Viva Zapata!

Una cosa me da risa:
Pancho Villa sin camisa,
otra cosa me da horror,
al vil Huerta en camisón.


Necesito algún "fortingo"
para hacer la caminata,
al lugar donde mandó
a la convención, Zapata.

Una guacamaya pinta
le dijo a una colorada,
quien se meta con mi patria,
se lo carga la…


Hay unos que roban mucho,
y luego huyen muy lejos,
validos de fuero y mando
y de que nos creen pen…itentes.


Qué bonitas soldaderas
cuando bailan el fandango.
Viva Pánfilo Natera,
el orgullo de Durango.

Ya murió la Cucaracha
ya la llevan a enterrar,
entre cuatro zopilotes
y un ratón de sacristán.

Mexico, Revolution. Soldiers dancing. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.
La Valentina. Another famous song of the Revolution, and one of my favorites. Even if it does not speak about the war, but about one fallen in love with “Valentina”, while he knows how dangerous it is to love her.

Song sheet of the corrido “Valentina”, Mexico, 1915

Valentina, Valentina,
I would like to tell you
what a passion rules me
that made me to come here.

They say that your love
is a curse that follows your lover
but let the devil take it
I also know how to die.

Even if I drink tequila today
tomorrow I’ll drink sherry
even if I’m seen drunk today
tomorrow they’ll not see me like that.

Valentina, Valentina,
I fall on my knees at your feet
if tomorrow they will kill me
I’ll only be killed only once.

Valentina, Valentina,
yo te quisiera decir
que una pasión me domina
y es la que me hizo venir.

Dicen que por tus amores
un mal me van a seguir,
no le hace que sean el diablo
yo también me sé morir.

Si porque tomo tequila
mañana tomo jerez,
si porque me ven borracho
mañana ya no me ven.

Valentina, Valentina,
rendido estoy a tus pies,
si me han de matar mañana
que me maten de una vez.

There are also corridos that are a veritable history class in verse, like for example these ones.

Mexico, Revolution. Photo by Agustín Victor Casasola (1874-1938). Cf.

4 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

Que gusto encontrar un sitio así, multilingüe, multicultural, y dedicado a las mejores actividades humanas: la música y el pensamiento.
Desde Uruguay un cálido abrazo

I´m overjoyed to have found this site. Multilingual, multicultural and devoted to the best activities that we humans can do: music and thought.
A friendly hug from Uruguay.


Studiolum dijo...

Qué gusto salutarte por aquí, Alejandro. ¡Vuelve a visitar! ¿No quieres también escribir algo en estas páginas sobre la música de tu país, la música que esprime vuestra vida en el presente o en el pasado?

Un abrazo fuerte de Hungría & Mallorca
Tamás & Antonio

JR. dijo...


Meantejana dijo...

Perdon si mi Espaniol no es muy bien. Si buscas informacion de tus ancestores, puedes empesar con la ayuda de Los Mormones.

No se donde vives, pero en E.U. la iglesia Mormona tiene "Research Centers" en donde se puede localizar casi cualquier persona en el pasado y nuestros ancestores.

Por examplo, yo encontrado 16 genoraciones de mi familia .. de Espana a Tamaulipas y luego, desde 1834 en el Valle del Rio Grande, Texas. El Tio de mi visaguela Demetria Garza .. era Juan Nepomuceno Cortina que lucho para defender los derechos de los Mexicanos que maltrataban los gringos y los rinches.

Todo esto fue posible con ... el red de la Iglesia Mormona y un Research Center en una iglesia Mormona serca de donde yo vivo.