Gallo Dell Cielo

Lyrics: Tom Russell
Music: Tom Russell

This was introduced by Robert Hunter in a concert on 1 November 1981:

... by a taxi, taking me back to the whorehouse I was staying in [laughter] , the guy told me he wrote songs too. So - a long drive - I said let's hear a few bars. And this is what he sang - this is true.

[sings song]

I had him drive me back, and he gave me the words to it. And I had him open my show, at the Lone Star I guess it was. He was good.
Though this sounds implausible, it seems to be true. Tom Russell did work as a taxi driver in Queens, and did subsequenly open for Hunter.
Carlos Saragosa left his home in Casas Grandes when the moon was full
No money in his pocket, just a locket of his sister framed in gold
He headed for el Sueco, stole a rooster called Gallo Dell Cielo
Then he crossed the Rio Grande with that chicken nestled deep within his arms

Now Gallo Dell Cielo was a rooster born in heaven, so the legends say
His wings they had been broken, he had one eye rolling crazy in his head
He fought a hundred fights, and the legends say one night outside El Sueco
They fought Cielo seven times and seven times he left brave roosters dead

Hola my Theresa, I'm thinking of you now in San Antonio
I have twenty seven dollars and the good luck of your picture framed in gold
Tonight I'll bet it all on the fighting spurs of Gallo Dell Cielo
Then I'll return to buy the land that Villa stole from father long ago

Outside of San Diego, in the onion fields of Paco Monte Verde
The pride of San Diego lay sleeping on a fancy bed of silk
They laughed when Saragosa pulled the one-eyed de Cielo from beneath his coat
They cried when Saragosa walked away with a thousand dollar bill

Hola my Theresa, I'm thinking of you now in Santa Barbara
I have fifteen hundred dollars and the good luck of your picture framed in gold
Tonight I'll bet it all on the fighting spurs of Gallo Del Cielo
Then I'll return to buy the land that Villa stole from father long ago

Now the moon is gone to hiding, and the lantern light spills shadows on the fight sand
A wicked black named Zorro faces Del Cielo in the night
And Carlos Saragosa fears the tiny crack that runs across his rooster's beak
And he fears that he has lost the fifty thousand that is riding on the fight

Hola my Theresa, I'm thinking of you now in Santa Clara
All the money's on the table, I'm holding to your good luck framed in gold
Everything we dreamed of is riding on the spurs of Del Cielo
I pray I'll return to buy the land that Villa stole from father long ago

Then the signal it was given, and the cocks they rose together far above the sand
Gallo Del Cielo sunk a gaff into Zorro's shiny breast
They were separated quickly, but they rose and fought each other thirty seven times
And legend says that everyone agreed that Del Cielo fought the best

Then the screams of Saragosa filled the night air outside of Santa Clara
As the beak of de Cielo lay broken like a shell within his hand
And they say that Saragosa screamed a curse upon the bones of Pancho Villa
As Zorro rose up one last time and drove Del Cielo to the sand

Hola my Theresa, I'm thinking of you now in San Francisco
I've no money in my pocket, I no longer have your picture framed in gold
I buried it last evening with the bones of Del Cielo
And I'll not return to buy the land that Villa stole from father long ago

Do the rivers still run muddy outside of my beloved Casas Grande
Does the scar upon my brother's face turn red when he hears mention of my name
Do the people of El Sueco still curse the theft of Gallo Del Cielo
Tell my family not to worry, I will not return to cause them shame

 


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