Contributing Editor: Raymund Paredes
Major Themes, Historical Perspectives, and Personal Issues
In this group of corridos, it's important to note that American cowboy culture derives largely from Mexican culture: the corrido "Kiansis I" lauds the superiority of Mexican cowboys over their Anglo counterparts. The point is that Mexican-Americans have resented the appropriation of their culture without due recognition. "Gregorio Cortez" and "Jacinto Treviño" are epic ballads that deal with Mexican/Mexican-American responses to "American" injustice and bigotry. They are also of great interest because they make no distinction between a Mexican citizen and resident like Treviño and a resident of the United States like Cortez. Both are simply "mexicanos" who fight for their community's rights and dignity.
Corridos not only treat epic historical issues like cultural conflict along the south Texas border but focus on more intimate matters that reflect and preserve traditional family values. "El Hijo Desobediente," one of the best-known and best-loved of corridos, emphasizes the need for sons to respect their fathers. In this ballad, the son Felipe is agitated to the point of threatening his father, an action that seals his tragic fate.
A final point about corridos to be made here is that this musical tradition is still vigorous and still exists primarily in Spanish. "Recordando al Presidente" fondly recalls John F. Kennedy, whose Catholicism endeared him to "mexicanos" and other Latinos. The "Corrido de César Chávez," of still more recent origin, recounts the victory of Chávez and the United Farm Workers over grape growers as a result of a brilliantly executed boycott.