Corridos para Trump y Clinton

Technical glitches seem to be common on my radio show lately: the first twenty minutes of today’s live broadcast were lost somewhere in the stratosphere before the signal finally went out to listeners.

The show opened with a couple of Mexican corridos for, or about, the American President Elect, and I’m sorry these didn’t successfully air. I recorded the whole hour, though, so I’ve uploaded it and am posting it here. You can listen to it anytime.

Corridos have been part of Mexican and Mexican-American culture since the 1800s; they’re narrative ballads, usually rooted in topical events of the day, and for many years now they’ve transformed the latest events – the headlines, the tragedies, the heroes and the villains, the underdogs, lovers, politicians, criminals, and ordinary laborers – into the stuff of compelling, storytelling song. The corridos are significant especially in the border culture spanning both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.

This year’s election was full of talk of that border. Not surprisingly there’s a wealth already of Donald Trump corridos — and we can be certain many(!) more will emerge in the days, months, and maybe years ahead. We heard just a few of the first ones today; we also heard a Trump tune from Cuba and Vicente Fernandez’s “El Corrido de Hillary Clinton,” released back in September by the celebrated King of Ranchera Music.

One of today’s songs — “Donald Trump … Yo Soy Mojado, No Soy Criminal,” by El Mustang de la Sierra — suggests in its title the overall tenor of these Trump songs, rebuking Trump’s depiction of immigrants (mojados) as criminals. Some corridos are impassioned and earnest; some are sardonic and comical. Here’s one we didn’t hear on the show today:

I hope someone’s keeping track of all these new corridos. They’ll make for a vital record of our time.

Also on today’s show, we heard songs for the late John Glenn (see my previous post for more about John Glenn songs). We heard a bunch of recordings, too, without much to do with anything in particular — but good songs anyway by Sam and Dave, Esther Philips, John Hartford, George Jones, and others.

I was bummed that this show didn’t air in full. I hope you’ll give it a listen.

Happy Blues for John Glenn

Here’s a song you’ll hear tomorrow if you listen to The Lost Child: Lightnin’ Hopkins’s “Happy Blues for John Glenn,” recorded on February 20, 1962 — the day John Glenn came back to the earth.

John Glenn, as we all know by now, died this week at the age of 95.


Amid all the obits I heard someone call him “my top astronaut crush.” I like that.

Lightnin’ Hopkins was already scheduled to record on February 20, and the timing proved fortuitous: his recording is likely the rawest musical tribute you can hear today to John Glenn’s achievement. That morning before the session Hopkins watched, on his landlady’s TV, the news of Glenn’s return. At the studio he jotted down notes on an envelope while his band set up. Between takes he read the papers.

Then he recorded this song:

          People, I was sittin’ this mornin’

          with this on my mind

          Said there ain’t no livin’ man

          can go ‘round the world three times

          But John Glenn done it

          Yes he did

          He did it, I’m talkin’ about him

          Only did it for fun

There were other musical tributes to Glenn, but Hopkins’s, which runs five improvised minutes in total, is the best I’ve heard. Two weeks later Little Willie John cut something of a dud, a hokey teenage space-age fantasy called “Mister Glenn,” which came with lyrics like these:

          Tell me, Mr. Glenn, what did you see when you went up there?

          When they shot you in a rocket and zoomed you through the atmosphere?

          Is it true what they say of the stars above?

          Did you see a pretty maiden from the planet of love?

          Please, Mr. Glenn, Mr. Glenn.


Another thing, by the way, we’ll hear on The Lost Child tomorrow: Mexican corridos on the theme of this year’s U.S. election.

Tune in.

And rest in peace, Mr. Glenn.

Here’s Lightnin’: