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Texas Matters: The Corrido's Never Ending Story

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Demetrius Hardison practices classical guitar at Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Center.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr.
Demetrius Hardison practices classical guitar at Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Center.

The corrido occupies a special place in the musical lives of many Mexican Americans. The songs frequently tell the stories of a people in the grips of trying times but often delivered with a contrasting upbeat tempo. Even in these sometimes woeful songs there is a constant lyrical quality of hope, resilience and perseverance.

The corrido is a ballad that traditionally features historical or topical information with the mentioning of a specific place, date and cast of characters.

Yet the corrido is flexible enough to be reborn with new generations claiming the genre as its own and then adding to the history with new songs about their own discoveries, injustices and ironies.

Even so, the corridor has become an oral history document of past struggles. It is a chronicle of Texas history that is frequently over-looked and edited out of the state government approved history text books.

Overall the corrido is a never-ending song with verse and verse filled with social and ideological issues faced by Mexican Americans who are navigating the challenges of a society and economy that views them as the other.

Maria Herrera Sobek has written extensively about the corrido. She is Professor of Chicano Studies, and is the Luis Leal Endowed Chair at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Associate Director of the Center for Chicano Studies. Maria Herrera Sobek is a renowned literary critic, poet and folklore specialist.

We recorded this Texas Matters interview in 2003.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi