Corridos and la pura verdad: Myths and Realities of the Mexican Ballad
Abstract

The Mexican ballad, or corrido is often considered a genre that expresses the notion of "truth" as perceived by its authors and consumers. This essay offers a reading of the corrido that denies this idea of transparency while looking at what the corrido itself contributes to its own definition. First we look at various popular conceptions of what the corrido is thought to accomplish, then we offer an analysis of the self-referential ballad by Los Tigres del Norte aptly titled "El corrido." It is here that, when coupled with instances of metafictional commentary found in other ballads, the breakdown and contradiction of the corrido as vessel of memory shows its own internal fissures. Once this inconsistency is established, we focus on the most popular and conflictive sub-genre of the Mexican ballad, the narco-ballad or narcocorrido. By interpreting the lyrics of various narcocoriddos, we further underscore how this musical form breaks with the journalistic fact finding discourse found in traditional corridos. The concluding section looks to testimonial writing as a comparable genre that is also framed in truth claims in order to establish a hypothetical response to the need for believing the corrido as repository of truth.