‘Prohibited ballads’ banned on air, popular live
The accordion-laced, hard-driving songs about Colombia’s underworld are called ‘corridos prohibidos’ – prohibited ballads – because established radio networks ban them from the air. The Washington Post describes why they have become so popular
“In a country with Marxist rebels, death squads, cocaine traffickers and all manner of corrupt politicians, balladeers have a vast and fertile trove of material to draw on for their lyrics,” writes Juan Forero in The Washington Post from Bogota in Colombia.
The ‘prohibited ballads’ are loved for their sharp, even comic lyrics, and feared by authorities for their glorification of drugs and war; the outlaw life of cocain farmers and the traffickers along the U.S.-Mexico border. In every town in Colombia, there are now a couple of corridos-bands.
Alirio Castillo, the best-known producer of corridos who was fired from a big record label years ago, said that Colombia generates so much more inspiration because of its complex, 42-year conflict – the only war in the Americas – and the long, bloody history of the cocaine trade.
But on weekends, the corridos musicians are usually booked solid, playing gigs from afternoon shows in small-town plazas to evening concerts at sold-out cantinas. Since CDs are pirated, the bands depend mostly on concerts to make a living. A good band can make $4,000 in a night, a small fortune in a country such as Colombia.
Sun-Sentinel.com – 12 December 2006:
‘Songs banned from mainstream’