With my senorita I sang and I danced
We had a fiesta from morning till night
And then her father caught us crumble for a fight
In Nuevo Laredo I travel no more
Founder's Monument, Nuevo Laredo
On the banks of the Rio Grande, just across state line, lies the city of Nuevo Laredo, the Mexican counterpart of the Texas town, Laredo. Nuevo Laredo was founded in 1755 by Don Tomas Sanchez as part of the Laredo settlement, a territory granted to the then-King of Spain. The Mexican-American War in 1847 resulted in the division of the Laredo territory and Nuevo (New) Laredo was established on May 15, 1948. Seventeen families who wished to remain Mexican moved across the river as the first inhabitants of the new town, even taking the bones of their deceased family members with them.
On this arid patch on the Northern tip of Tamaulipas, dotted with oak and mesquite, almost half a million people live in Nuevo Laredo, a town which has become the most important trade border crossing of Latin America. Amidst a booming transportation and logistics industry, Nuevo Laredo boasts a variety of hotels, restaurants, and an impressive cultural centre that hosts annual events such as the Tamaulipas International Festival. Nuevo Laredo is also known for its festive nightlife and the infamous Boy's Town red light district. Located on the primary trade route between Canada, the US and the Latin Americas, it's no wonder this city has flourished and hosts an array of tourists from all over North America.
Hank Snow, born in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1914, ran away from an abusive home at the age of 12. Thus started his life on the road working odds jobs that eventually led him to the guitar and his first gig at the age of 16. Although he liked to portray himself as a hitch-hiker and wandering troubadour in his songs, there's no evidence to prove that Snow ever wandered as far south as Mexico, onto the streets of Nuevo Laredo. After his career took off in Canada, Snow moved down to Nashville, Tennessee, brushing shoulders and even teaming up with the likes of Hank Williams. Elvis Presley made his first stage appearances as the opening act for Snow's performances.
Universidad Nuevo Laredo
Even if Snow never did wander the streets of Nuevo Laredo, that didn't stop him from writing a song about the city, and about a beautiful girl with whom he fell in love. The song is a classic country and Western ballad with a Ranchera-like guitar accompaniment above which Snow dips and weaves his nasal cowboy voice through verses that seem to gallop towards the gentler, more nostalgic chorus. The lyrics tell the story of an American boy trying to win the love of a Mexican girl despite her father's disapproval, “Since her father hollered don't darken my door, But each night by moonlight I'm all happy, man, You should see me swim to her across the Rio Grande.”
“Nuevo Laredo” is not one of Snow's most well known ballads, having not even been released as a single, but is indicative of his style that influenced many country singers that came after him. Snow's songs have since been covered by the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris, Ray Charles and even The Rolling Stones. For a Canadian boy, Snow left an indelible mark on American country music, even establishing the The Hank Snow Country Music Centre in Nova Scotia near his home town. As a victim of child abuse himself, Snow also founded the Hank Snow International Foundation for Prevention of Child Abuse, further cementing his legacy. Family and fans alike lamented his passing when Snow died of old age in 1999. ~ Suzanne van Rooyen
(Thanks to Carlos for suggesting this Songplace.)Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. Her published novels include
Dragon's Teeth, Obscura Burning, and
The Other Me. When not writing, she teaches dance and music to middle schoolers and eats far too much peanut-butter.