Corridos are essentially ballads, a centuries-old form of narrative song that flourished along the border. The roots of the art form are buried under the memory lapse of time. It is known, however, that minstrels composed ballads for the feudal higher-ups and troubadours sang them for the commoners.
The songs mainly memorialize actual events with embellishments for dramatic effect. Because of their artistic take on real-life events, corridos serve a special duality of function, somewhere between oral history and societal myth.
The corrido traces back to a similar form of music—the Spanish romance. Corridos were musical stories of ordinary people who chose their own path, either through heroic acts of courage or by giving in to unchecked emotion and passion.
The lyrics of corridos are characteristically brief and straight-forward. During the Mexican Revolution, corridos were composed to honor such famed rebels as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. North of the border, corridos were adopted to hail Cesar Chavez for his ordeals in establishing a farm workers’ union.
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