Canción mexicana

Lalo Guerrero, ca. 1940

Listen and read the lyrics to "Cielito Lindo," "Mañanitas Tapatias," and "Adelita." What words and music does "Canción mexicana" borrow from these songs? Why do you think Lalo Guerrero borrowed these excerpts?

Guerrero wrote that he wanted to remind people from his neighborhood of immigrants and descendants of immigrants that they "had something to be proud of." How does this song instill a sense of pride?

The song, especially as it was recorded by Lucha Reyes, exemplifies the ranchera style, which became popular during the Mexican Revolution in the 1910s as a repudiation of European classical music and its elite associations. How does the style and instrumentation highlight the Mexican folk instead of the elite?

Why do you think this style of music would have appealed to many of the people in Guerrero's childhood barrio?

"Canción Mexicana" performed by Maria de Lourdes on La Cancion Mexicana, Vol. 1, © 1991. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.


Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online source:

Lalo Guerrero
Lalo Guerrero

Lalo Guerrero (1916–2005) was born in Tuscon, Arizona, the city to which Guerrero's Mexican-born father had immigrated. In the late 1930s he moved to Los Angeles and began writing songs. His popularity was first established by two songs: "Canción mexicana," which was first recorded by Lucha Reyes in 1940, and the bolero "Nunca jamás" (Never again), which was popularized by Javier Solís.

"Canción mexicana" is a beloved popular song and has been recorded by many Mexican and American stars, including Lola Beltrán and María de Lourdes. It is considered an unofficial national anthem of Mexico. In his autobiography, Guerrero reflected that he wrote it as "a gift to the people of my old barrio [neighborhood of Spanish-speaking immigrant families] to remind them that, even if we were poor, we had something to be proud of" (p. 54). The song's sense of nostalgia and pride is deepened by the inclusion of quotations from other beloved Mexican songs, including the opening melody of "Cielito Lindo," lyrics from "Mañanitas Tapatias," and both lyrics and music from "Adelita."

In the 1940s Guerrero began fusing Mexican, Caribbean, and American big-band music in a new style known as "pachuco boogie." He reached the peak of his career in the 1950s and 1960s when he opened his own nightclub, called Lalo's, and earned wide recognition for his parodies of American songs. Perhaps his best-known parodies are "Pancho Lopez," which pokes fun at "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," and "Tacos for Two," which parodies "Cocktails for Two." In the 1960s Guerrero also became involved with the United Farmworkers Union and wrote many songs in support of the Union's efforts. For more on this, see VAT, Unit 8.




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