Spanish Protest Songs – Los Tigres del Norte
A friend of mine called Los Tigres del Norte the Rolling Stones of Mexico. While they have nothing in common musically, the comparison shows how important the group is culturally.
Popular Mexican music, especially styles like Nortena and Banda that come from both sides of the border with the US, is similar to jazz in another non-musical way. If you don’t like it, then it all sounds alike.
But if Zach De La Rocha (from Rage Against the Machine) gets down with this song, then maybe give it a deeper look. You will find a quite powerful statement about US-Mexican relations. You can find my translation below.
Somos Mas Americanos (We Are More American)
They’ve yelled at me a thousand times to go back home ‘cause I don’t fit in here. I want to remind the gringo, I didn’t cross the border, the border crossed me.
America was born free, man divided her, they drew the line so that I can’t jump it, they call me invader, a real big mistake.
They took eight states from us, and who’s the invader here? I’m a foreigner in my land, I don’t come to make war, I’m a working man.
And if history doesn’t lie, a powerful nation settled here in glory. Brave warriors, Indians of two continents, mixed with the Spanish.
And if we talk about centuries, we are more American, we are more American than the child of the Anglo Saxon.
They bought the water of the Rio Grande without money. They took Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado from us. Also California and Nevada. With Utah it wasn’t enough, they snatched the state of Wyoming from us too. I’m the blood of the Indian. I’m Latin. I’m Mestizo. We are every color and every trade.
And even if it hurts our neighbor, we’re more American than all the gringos.
This song concisely touches on some hot issues. When I was in high school being taught total bullshit in history class we were told that the US bought these Western states from Mexico. While technically true, it’s not as if average Mexican folks were consulted or benefited in any way from the trade.
An important part of the song is the way Spanish-speaking people south of the border view the use of the word “American.” People from the US call themselves “Americans” because the English language lacks an adjective to describe people from the United States. Latin Americans take exception to this because as they see it, they are Americans too. But the fact is that we don’t really have an alternate word, while adjectives for people from the US exist in Spanish – you can use “estadounidense” or “norteamericano.”
However, in Spanish “America” is used to refer to the continents of North and South America together, which are considered to be only one continent in Mexico and elsewhere. If you use it to describe the US, it is as if all the other countries in America are insignificant and subordinate. Think about it – what if the Chinese considered themselves alone as Asians?
Los Tigres del Norte have plenty of other great songs besides this one – some political, some not. I’ll try to get around to translating a few more. Their unplugged album from last year is a good place to hear some of their best and most famous songs.
Here’s the original Spanish text:
Somos Mas Americanos
Ya me gritaron mil veces que me regrese a mi tierra, porque aquí no quepo yo. Quiero recordarle al gringo, yo no cruce la frontera, la frontera me cruzo.
America nació libre, el hombre la dividió. Ellos pintaron la raya, para que yo la brincara y me llaman invasor, es un error bien marcado.
Nos quitaron ocho estados quien es aquí el invasor. Soy extranjero en mi tierra, y no vengo a darles guerra, soy hombre trabajador.
Y si no miente la historia, aquí se asentó en la gloria la poderosa nación, hombres guerreros valientes, indios de dos continentes, mezclados con español.
Y si a los siglos nos vamos, somos mas americanos, somos mas americanos que el hijo de anglo-sajon.
Nos compraron sin dinero las aguas del río bravo. Y nos quitaron a Texas, Nuevo Mexico, Arizona y Colorado. También voló California y Nevada con Utah no se llenaron, el estado de Wyoming, también nos lo arrebataron Yo soy la sangre del indio Soy latino soy mestizo. Somos de todos colores y de todos los oficios y aunque le duela al vecino, somos mas americanos que todititos los gringos.
Posted on September 12, 2012, in Learning Spanish, Mexico, Music and tagged Los Tigres del Norte, mexican music, mexico, Rage Against the Machine, Spanish lyrics, Zach de la Rocha. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.