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Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez

27 Dec 02 - 08:52 AM (#854010)
Subject: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes
From: Allan C.

I have just finished reading an account of the deeds of Gregorio Cortes who became infamous in the first months of the 20th century. In a nutshell, he may have been wrongly accused of a crime and then was persecuted for actions he perpetrated (and some he didn't) as a result of that accusation. Court decisions against him were all reversed; all except for one for which he spent more than a dozen years in prison until he was at last pardoned.

It appears that there were some corridos (verses) written about him that evenutally became the ballad known by the title shown above. I would be curious to see some lyrics or, if at all possible, to hear it. Does anyone know of a source? (Google searches have not been of help, BTW.)

27 Dec 02 - 09:19 AM (#854025)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes
From: masato sakurai

Go to THIS SITE (AMERICO PAREDES MEMORIAL), where there're texts & recordings. Américo Paredes wrote a book exclusively on this corrido: With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero (University of Texas Press, 1958, 1978); this book contains a lot of variants with English translations.

27 Dec 02 - 10:14 AM (#854048)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes
From: Allan C.

You've done it again, Masato! Thanks so much!

27 Dec 02 - 10:23 AM (#854053)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes
From: masato sakurai

English translation is HERE.

27 Dec 02 - 04:36 PM (#854221)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes
From: Coyote Breath

A very interesting film of this story was aired many years ago on PBS. It was titled "The Ballad of Gregorio Cortes". The actor James Edward Olmos played Cortes. The other characters' players are unknown to me. It was a very well done film and I have never been able to find a copy of it. I would like one very much. I had "bootlegged a copy from the broadcast but someone borrowed it and it never got returned.

One thing I recall is while the Texas Rangers are travelling by rail car (complete with their horses) to a rendezvous for the start of the "manhunt" the song "Texas Rangers" is being played in the background, sounded like on a concertina or button accordian. The only instance that I know of of that song showing up other than the early edition of NLCR song book.

I read somewhere that this was the last posse/manhunt conducted from horseback by the Texas Rangers.

Somewhere else I read that Gregorio Cortes was pardoned in 1909. At the time of his "crime", Texas law allowed for the use of deadly force to protect yourself from a lawman who was misusing his authority in such a way that you could reasonably consider that you were in a life threratening situation. The whole incident aparently grew out of some sort of shake-down scheme on the part of the sherrif and bad translations provided by one of his "deputies"


27 Dec 02 - 05:10 PM (#854229)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes
From: Allan C.

Cortes was pardoned after serving twelve years and nine months in prison. The pardon was issued in July of 1913 by Texas governor O. B. Colquitt. In his application for pardon he said, "Deep regret I have always felt for the sad occurrence, but repentance I have never felt, for I could never bring myself to the hypocritical state as to so plead to gain an end that was my just due."

Source: "A Treasury of Western Folklore" B. A. Botkin, editor.

27 Dec 02 - 05:42 PM (#854240)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes

Let me tell you the name is Cortez, not Cortes.

27 Dec 02 - 06:01 PM (#854250)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes
From: Allan C.

Guest G: Maybe. Maybe not. Most sources I have found spell it with an "s" but I am well aware that the family name is more commonly spelled with a "z".

27 Dec 02 - 07:50 PM (#854299)
Subject: Lyr Add: GREGORIO CORTEZ (Carolyn Hester)
From: masato sakurai

For Cortez's bio, see also More About the Corrido "Gregorio Cortez".

Carolyn Hester sang this corrido in English with Jacques Menahem in Spanish on Various Artists, The Badman [LP] (Columbia/Legacy L2S 1012, 1963); the following lyrics are from the book (p. 61) accompanying the album (words in square brackets are translations). The song is also on Carolyn Hester: Dear Companion (Bear Family BCD 15701).

GREGORIO CORTEZ (El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez)

"This is a composite of stanzas from several variants of the Mexican border corrido of Gregorios Cortez cited in Américo Paredes' With His Pistol in His Hand."

Como decimos así es,
en mil novecientos uno
el día ventidós de junio
fue capturado Cortés.

[As we say, so it is;
In nineteen hundred and one,
On the twenty-second of June
Cortez was captured.]

In the county of El Carmen
A great misfortune befell,
A major sheriff is dead.
Who killed him no one can tell.

At two in the afternoon,
In half an hour or less,
They knew the man who killed him
Had been Gregorio Cortez.

They let loose the bloodhound dogs,
They followed him from afar,
But trying to catch Cortez
Was like following a star.

En el condado de Kiancer
lo llegaron a alcanzar
a poco más de trescientos
y allí les brincó el corral.

[In the county of Kansas
They secceeded in overtaking him,
Something more than three hundred,
And there he jumped their corral.]

Then the major sheriff said,
As if he was going to cry,
"Cortez, hand over your weapons,
We want to take you alive."

Then said Gregorio Cortez,
His pistol in his hand,
"Ah, so many mounted Rangers
To take one Mexican."

Otro día por la mañana
él solo se presentó:
--Por la buena sí me llevan
lo que es de otro modo no.

[On the next day, in the morning,
He surrendered of his own accord,
"You can take me if I'm willing,
But not any other way."]


27 Dec 02 - 10:37 PM (#854375)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes
From: leprechaun

I bought the video (with James Edward Olmos) on Ebay.

28 Dec 02 - 05:07 PM (#854694)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes
From: Coyote Breath

Thanks leprechaun, I will see if I can get a copy. I am a great fan of Olmos' and have managed to see most of his work.

Thanks for the date correction AllenC. What of that other stuff about Texas law and the use of deadly force? It was a while ago that I saw the film and can't recall the details too well. I might have gotten something from a PBS interview with Olmos but who knows? The idea that it would be legal to use deadly force against a lawman seems unlikely but early Western laws are sometimes odd.

One film I would like to have even more than the one we talked of is "Zoot Suit". Musically it is a stunner and dramatically it is very well acted. Olmos plays the mythic character "El Pachuco" who giudes us through the story. I believe it is a Teatro des Campesinos production.

Thanks, Masato, for the words and the link!


28 Dec 02 - 06:08 PM (#854717)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes

Those whom we must obey should correct spelling in thread titles.

28 Dec 02 - 08:05 PM (#854749)
From: masato sakurai

Text & translation from the sites linked to above.

(Rocha y Martínez, 1929)
- Part I:

En el condado del Carmen
miren lo que ha sucedido,
Murió el sherife mayor
quedando Román herido.

Otro día por la mañana
cuando la gente llegó,
Unos a los otros dicen
no saben quien lo mató.

Se anduvieron informando
como tres horas después,
Supieron que el malhechor
era Gregorio Cortez.

Insortaron a Cortez
por toditito el estado
Vivo o muerto que se aprehenda
porque a varios ha matado.

Decía Gregorio Cortez
con su pistola en la mano,
--No siento haberlo matado
al que siento es a mi hermano.--

Decía Gregorio Cortez
con su alma muy encendida,
--No siento haberlo matado
la defensa es permitida.--

Venían los americanos
que por el viento volaban,
porque se iban a ganar
tres mil pesos que les daban.

Siguió con rumbo a Gonzáles,
varios sherifes lo vieron,
no lo quisieron seguir
porque le tuvieron miedo.

Venían los perros jaunes
venían sobre la huella
Pero alcanzar a Cortez
era alcanzar a una estrella.

Decía Gregorio Cortez
--Pa' qué se valen de planes,
si no pueden agarrarme
ni con esos perros jaunes.--

- Part II:

Decían los americanos
--Si lo vemos qué le haremos,
si le entramos por derecho
muy poquitos volveremos.--

En el redondel del rancho
lo alcanzaron a rodear,
Poquitos más de trescientos
y allí les brincó el corral.

Allá por el Encinal
a según por lo que dicen
Se agarraron a balazos
y les mató otro sherife.

Decía Gregorio Cortez
con su pistola en la mano,
--No corran rinches cobardes
con un solo mexicano.--

Giró con rumbo a Laredo
sin ninguna timidez,
--¡Síganme rinches cobardes,
yo soy Gregorio Cortez!--

Gregorio le dice a Juan
en el rancho del Ciprés,
--Platícame qué hay de nuevo,
yo soy Gregorio Cortez.--

Gregorio le dice a Juan,
--Muy pronto lo vas a ver,
anda háblale a los sherifes
que me vengan a aprehender.--

Cuando llegan los sherifes
Gregorio se presentó,
--Por la buena si me llevan
porque de otro modo no.--

Ya agarraron a Cortez
ya terminó la cuestión,
la pobre de su familia
la lleva en el corazón.

Ya con esto me despido
con la sombra de un Ciprés,
aquí se acaba cantando
la tragedia de Cortez.

Corrido de Gregorio Cortez
(Translated to English)

Part 1

In the country of the Carmen
Look what happened
The sheriff died leaving
Roman wounded

The following morning
When people arrived
Some said to others
They don't know who killed him

They were investigating
And three hours later
They found out the wrongdoer
Was Gregorio Cortez.

Cortez was wanted
Thoroughout the state
Alive or dead apprehended
For he has killed several.

Said Gregorio Cortez
With his pistol in his hand
"I'm not sorry I killed him
Self defense is permitted."

Americans came
They flew like the wind
Because they were going to win
The three thousand pesos reward.

They continued toward Gonzales
Several sheriffs saw him
They did not want to continue
Because they were afraid of him

Came the hound dogs
They came on his trail
But to reach Cortez
Was to reach a star.

Gregorio Cortez said
"What's the use of plans
If you can't catch me
Even with those hound dogs."

Part 2

The Americans said,
"If we see him what shall we do to him,
If we face him head on
Very few will return."

In the ranch corral
They managed to surround him.
A little more than 300 men
There he gave them the slip.

There around Encinal
From all they say
They had a shoot-out
And he killed another sheriff.

Gregorio Cortez said,
With his pistol in his hand,
"Don't run, you cowardly Rangers,
I am Gregorio Cortez."

Gregorio says to Juan
"Very soon you will see,
Go and talk to the sheriffs
They should come and arrest me."

When the sheriffs came
Gregorio presented himself.
You'll take me if I wish it,
Bbecause there is no other way."

Now they caught Cortez,
Now the case is closed,
His poor family
He carries in his heart.

With this I take my leave
In the shade of a cypress
Here we finish singing
The tragedy of Cortez.


28 Dec 02 - 09:03 PM (#854769)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes

The Handbook of Texas at the University of Texas website has the best brief biography of Gregorio Cortez Lira, and story of his troubles which began in Karnes County (El Carmen of the Rocha-Martinez corrido of 1929, provided by Masato). The brother, Romaldo (Roman in the Martinez-Rocha corrido), whom Sheriff Morris had shot, died in the Karnes City jail.
The article is at: Cortez Lira, Gregorio
The first version of the corrido appeared in 1901. I haven't been able to find a copy.
Américo Paredes popularized the story of Gregorio Cortez in "With His Pistol in His Hand: a Border Ballad and its Hero," published in 1958 by the University of Texas. "Between 1958 and 1965 the book sold fewer than 1000 copies, and a Texas Ranger angered by it threatened to shoot Paredes. In subsequent decades, however, the book has been recognized as a classic of Texas Mexican prose and has sold quite well."
The book is available cheaply in used paperback, but a good copy of the first edition is selling for $50-150 depending on condition.

28 Dec 02 - 09:34 PM (#854785)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes
From: masato sakurai

Excerpt from Paredes, With His Pistol in His Hand (chapter III: "The Man", pp. 55-83).

10 Nov 11 - 11:47 AM (#3254335)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez
From: GUEST,roy flores

my brother inlaw ,that was his grate grate grand father,we like to no
some more info ,about gregorio cortez,and if any family r. still alive,and well.
roy,or eddie cortez houston tx.