This Corrido About The Shooting In El Paso, Texas, Will Break Your Heart And Make You Proud To Be Mexican
In Mexican culture, storytelling is everything. Our stories are rarely written down on a page, let alone documented by government officials, which means it is up to us to tell the stories, so they are never forgotten. It’s a practice as old as time. Aside from oral histories that are told within families and communities, Mexicans also write corridos — Spanish ballads — that tell a story about a particular moment or situation. They all contain the same musical melody, which makes them so recognizable. Oxford bibliographies note that corridos are “typically performed a cappella or accompanied by stringed instruments, most commonly guitars,” and it is “performed in regular dance meters, they are commonly set to waltz or polka rhythms.” So, while the melody may be familiar, it is the words to each corrido that makes the song distinctive. It’s our musical tradition that dates back to the Mexican Revolutions of the 20th century, and they remain very much alive today.
On Tuesday, two Latinos performed a corrido titled “El Llanto de El Paso Texas” during a vigil in El Paso, Texas.
Here’s the English translation of the Spanish song:
“I’m going to sing a corrido/ Listen closely/ In the United States/ City of El Paso Texas/ Many people are crying/ Because of what happened here/ On the 3rd of August/ One Saturday morning/ At Walmart by Cielo Vista/ People walked peacefully/ But they never imagined/ Their lives would be changed/ You could hear several gunshots/ A gun went off/ The massacre began/ And my people got scared/ They didn’t know where to run/ But everyone helped each other/ These things that I tell you/ The news reported about it/ 22 dead and 26 injured/ El Chuco is now sad/ Many families are mourning/ It was an act of terrorism/ That this monster caused/ He tried to break my people/ Be he didn’t achieve that/ Now we are more united/ Thanks be to god.”
This powerful Spanish ballad was recorded and tweeted by photojournalist J. Omar Ornelas.
The vigil, which fell on the eve before President Donald Trump’s visit to El Paso included several moments of prayer by the hundreds in attendance. Ornelas tweeted, “In death nobody kills us, we only know how to be reborn with our culture,” and added, “the power of prayer was visible.”
People loved the song’s poignant message that both informed about what happened, and spoke of strength and unity.
@amiradelagarza tweeted, “A corrido about the Cielo Vista massacre in El Paso — because the Mexican response to suffering and death is not to turn away from it.
Another said, “Already there’s a powerful corrido about the El Paso shootings. Best line: ‘…quiso romper a mi gente, pero esto no lo logro…’ (‘…he tried to break my people, but this couldn’t do…’) #ElPasoStrong.”
This corridor is just the latest tune to go viral in the wake of the El Paso shooting.
Earlier this week, a local mariachi shared their rendition of the classic song of loss by Juan Gabriel, “Amor Eterno.” The song which is typically played during funerals or at somber moments showed the resilience of the Latino community as well as pride for the Mexican culture.
Nancy Hernandez tweeted, “Not only Mexicans, most Latinos use this song. Breaks my heart every time I hear it! But what do hateful racists know about our great heritage/spirituality/love of God. #BanTrumpFromElPaso #RespectTheDead I would roll over in my grave! #TrumpIsARacist 7 were Mexicans!” Michael Esposito said, “Amor Eterno is one of the most heart-rending songs ever written, and masterfully clothes the profound sadness of losing a loved one with high artistry. I get goosebumps listening to it, whether it’s the composer Juan Gabriel’s version or Rocío Dúrcal’s version.”
Corridos are also infamously known to tell the stories about the drug cartel. While it may have a violent connect, corridos mostly speak of heartbreak.
Like folk songs of the ’60s, corridos are extremely crucial to the understanding of a particular culture. Corridos are relevant and studied. Several books have been written about the topic including, Gurza, Agustín “A Century of Corridos: The Musical History of Mexico and Its People,” Hernández, Guillermo E, “What Is a Corrido? Thematic Representation and Narrative Discourse.”
Now, “El Llanto de El Paso Texas” will be forever remembered as the corrido that was about a tragic day in El Paso, Texas.