Borderrhetorics Wiki

By Gabriela Cavazos[]

Para saber quien es quien, hay que escuchar los corridos. 

What is a corrido?

A corrido is a ballad that tells the folklore of the region; moreover, corridos tell of the struggles of the poor; it tells the tale of lost love or a duel over a woman; it tells the tale of a man standing up for what is right; it tells of the unfairness that is imposed on another being and, corridos exonerate criminals. In its earlier stages, corridos were used as a means to keep people informed; however, more recently, corridos are used to glorify drug cartels and their leaders.

The Corrido's From

A corrido’s form varies from region to region, but it mostly consists of a greeting from the singer, followed by an introduction of the story and its protagonist(s), the story itself, the moral of the story, if any, and la despedida or farewell from the singer. La despedida usually means the death of the protagonist, and it is symbolized by “vuela palomita,” or a dove flying away. Most corridos contain dialogue and are written in the form of a lyrical ballad, which contains eight-syllable, four-line stanzas; however, the form has changed through time, and the current authors of the corridor do not follow the traditional form. 

The Journey of the Corrido

Historically, a corrido is a rhymed musicalized narration that characterizes Mexico. Its first origins date back to Medieval times, and it changes when the Mariachi is born in the sixteenth century. It became highly popularized when Mexico gained independence from Spain, and gained more popularity during the Mexican Revolution. The corrido has several variations depending what region in Mexico you are in. The most popular is the Norteno.  

MaximilianwithCharlotte (1)

“Adios mama Carlota,” is believed to be the first popularized corrido. It was written in 1866 by Vicente Riva Palacio as a protest song after Mexico defeated the French. Carlota was the wife of Emperor Maximilian I.

Adiós mamá Carlota

Adiós mi tierno amor

Se fueran los frances

Se va el emperador

Farewell Mamma Carlota

Farewell my tender love

The French will leave

The Emperor too

During the Mexican Revolution (1910 – 1920), and later in the Cristero War (1926-1929), the corrido’s attention changed from satirical to a more serious note. The corrido began to focus on individuals. During the time, there was corridos written about Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata, and other revolutionist. At the time, the corrido was used, not only to inform about the happenings of the revolution, but also to give glory to the oppressed because the corrido was about regular people like the persons listening and singing them. An example of this is “El Corrido de Valentin de la Cierra,” a Cristero and “El Corrido de La Adelita.” Adelitas were women fighting during the Mexican Revolution.

CLICK on LINK for "El Corrido de Valentin de la Cierra" Bio and Lyrics

Border Corrido

Before, after, and during the Mexican Revolution, the Texas/ Mexico border gave rise to the border corrido. The border corrido, like the others, gave rise to the underdog. The corrido norteno is the form that is used in the border towns. It consists of an accordion and a bajo sexto (a twelve-string guitar), or a guitar and a violin; whereas, in other areas, the corrido was performed with a Mariachi, depending in what part of Mexico you visit. In its early stages, the border corrido consisted of quarrels between the Anglos, the Mexicans and the Tejanos; it told stories about gunfights against the just and the unjust. Some examples of these corridos are: “El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez,” “El Hijo Desobediente,” “El Corrido de Jacinto Trevino,” and “Corrido de Kiansis I.” Other corridos were about a lover’s quarrel, and how they were settled, some examples of these are the corridos of Jesus Cadena, and Laurita Garza.

CLICK on the LINK to read about Ramon Delgado. The article has newpaper clippings of the incident:

Through violent acts, corridos depict people taking the law into their own hands and the tragic outcomes. In the seventies and well over into the eighties, the corrido’s focus was still on a larger than life individual(s). However, the focus changed from standing up to what was right to standing up against the law. In “El Corrido de Chito Cano,” (1971) and later in the “Corrido de Gregorio Gonzalez,” (1978) both men were known as valiant pistoleros. They were drug smugglers but because of their fame, through the corridor, they were exonerated. Gonzalez lost his life in a gunfight, whereas, Cano, was injured and remained in a wheelchair until his death in 2010.

The link below provides news coverage of Chito Cano's death. The article is in Spanish.

The corrido began to focus on drug smuggling and getting away with it. This began to get more popularized by the famous norteno band Los Tigres del Norte. The corrido, “Contrabando y Traicion" (1974), has not lost its popularity and is still being sung by norteno groups and tejano bands. The song has also been made into a movie and is depicted in art.

Narco Cultura and Corridos Alterados

Currently, the corrido has reached a larger scale and has taken a new form. The current violence in Mexico has given rise to the Narco Cultura. Narco Cultura is the latest trend in corrido forms also known as Corridos Alterados. The word, “alterados” has the implication that the corridor has been altered or gone through modifications. Although the old method of the corrido is still prevalent, a new culture has taken it to extremes. The corrido is still written from actual events that occur; however, the way the bands perform corrodes has drastically changed. The band no longer wears the usual hat, vest, and boots; they wear a bazooka, an AK-47, a 45 magnum, a bullet proof vest, and masks, as part of their performing regalia. The styles vary. Some bands strictly represent certain drug cartels from Mexico. In some cases, other drug cartels have murdered corrido singers because they sang about an opposing cartel.

Links to news of two corrido singers: