Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Animal Kingdom: Gallo del Cielo

Tom Russell: Gallo del Cielo


Due to my love of country and folk music, I have 68 horse mp3s in my collection. But since I always wait until the last minute to post on Star Marker Machine, I usually miss my chance to post my first thought on the given subject. I spent the week scouring my brain trying to think of a non-horse animal kingdom song to post. Finally on Thursday, while listening to Outlaw Country on XM radio, it hit me.

Tom Russell's "Gall del Cielo" is the quintessential Americana song. Written near his native Los Angeles in 1979, the song tells the story of Carlos Zaragoza, a Mexican man trying to win enough money via betting on cockfights to buy back the land that Pancho Villa stole from his family. The rooster from heaven, Gallo del Cielo, is the strongest of the cockfighters. Zaragoza steels the rooster from his home in northern Mexico, swims the Rio Grande and travels the southwestern US and California winning money on Gallo del Cielo's fighting prowess. Unfortunately by the time Zaragoza gets to Santa Clara, Gallo del Cielo meets his match. Zaragoza losses all of his money on the fight, and exiles himself so as to not bring his family shame.

Ruseell has recorded several versions of "Gallo del Cielo." This one is from the completion Veterans Day: The Tom Russell Anthology, but the original is from Russell's 1984 album Heart on a Sleeve.

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