Gallo del Cielo
Written and Performed by Tom Russell.
Here is an example of songwriting at its best, making a sublime legend of a story of a man who steals a fighting rooster. Like all great stories, there is so much more to this song than what first appears: adventure, loyalty, honor, gambling all set against the backdrop of a time before California joined the U.S. The Tex-Mex music, complete with accordion, perfectly matches the lyrics.
Come along for the ride with Carlos Zaragoza who “left his home in Casa Grandas when the moon was full.” He flees with “no money in his pocket, just a locket of his sister framed in gold.” Russell’s singing imparts nobility to this effort. Zaragoza heads to El Sueco, where he steals the roster called Gallo del Cielo, the rooster from heaven, and then travels north of the Rio Grande. Listen to the details; hear the hints of beauty and mystery, and the accordion weaving underneath that adds resonance.