Corridos de Caballos Famosos

I've been thinking about the astounding Kentucky Derby results and wondering if any one is going to write a song about the winning horse, Mine That Bird.

There are a couple very relevant traditions of horse songs that should, in a perfect world, yield at least a few songs about this horse.

Not least, there is that great Kentucky tradition typified by "Molly and Tenbrooks", which, of course, is the quintessential horse racing song based on an 1878 race at Louisville (before even there was a Churchill Downs). Even more importantly, this is one of the most historically significant bluegrass songs. It was one of Bill Monroe's favorite songs and it was the song that the Stanley Brothers first recorded in the style of music picking invented by Bill. To quote Richard D. Smith, who wrote an essential biography of Bill Monroe, that recording "proved that Bill's music had gone beyond being the sound of just one band. It was now a true, recognizable genre." (p. 93).

So someone should absolutely write a bluegrass song about this horse. (And yes I know, what passes for "bluegrass" nowadays ain't nothing close to bluegrass, but there are still plenty of good players out there to step up to the task).

Another reason I think there should/must be a song about Mine That Bird is that the horse industry in Kentucky nowadays is reliant on Mexican immigrant workers (see, for starters, Brian L. Rich and Marta Miranda's "Sociopolitical Dynamics of Mexican Immigration in Lexington, Kentucky, 1997 to 2002,") and, it goes without saying, Mexican music is not unfamiliar with the topic of corridos de caballos famosos.

When I started thinking about horse songs I immediately return to the many corrdios de caballos Los Alegres de Teran recorded, and of course, more conceptually, the full albums I have straightforwardly called "Caballos Famosos", which cover the many Mexican regional styles, some of which are truly great collections, by Miguel Aceves Mejia (Mariachi), Los Halcones de Salitrillo (Norteño), Los Huracanes del Norte (also Norteño), and Grupo Laberinto and Banda Jerez (both playing banda). (I am not including Valerio Longoria's "Caballo Viejo" on this list because it is not exclusively dedicated to caballos). The Norteño versions are the best to my ear.

I realize now that I am going to have to buckle down and figure out which is my favorite of these corridos, which may take some time. Good thing the summer is nigh in a few days.

For a stopgap I'll put a vote in for "Caballo Alazan Lucero" as sung by Alegres de Teran. Singing doesn't get much better than that, though Los Donneños do a good job on that one. I don't think it would really be a stretch to say that if we consider Los Alegres as analogous to Bill Monroe then Los Donneños are the Stanley Brothers.

And from what I see poking around Antonio Aguilar recorded three volumes of Corridos de Caballos Famosos, which clearly I should locate just to be complete, though he isn't my favorite.

There should be a Corrido de Extrae Esa Aves. If one doesn't appear soon I may have to commission it...

(btw, I think I got that imperative form right but if not, forgive my execrable knowledge of Spanish)

On a side note, the International Museum of the Horse at Kentucky Horse Park is hosting an exhibition called Arte en la Charrería: The Artisanship of Mexican Equestrian Culture, which is surely a sign of the times. And something to see, too, if I can get up there before September.


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