“El Rey” (The King) by José Alfredo Jiménez, English translation of lyrics

“The King”
Composer: José Alfredo Jiménez
StyleRanchera very popular in Mexico. This is one of José Alfredo’s most famous songs.
Country: Mexico
Listen on YouTube: José Alfredo Jiménez (original), Vicente Fernandez, Alejandro Fernández, and now George Strait (possibly because of my translation? I don’t know, but if so, I am very honored!)

Translation:

Yo sé bien que estoy afuera
Pero el día que yo me muera
Sé que tendrás que llorar.
(Llorar y llorar, x2)

I am fully aware that I am out
But the day that I die
I know that you will have to cry.
(Cry and cry, x2)

Dirás que no me quisiste,
Pero vas a estar muy triste
Y así te vas a quedar.

You will say that you did not love me,
But you will be very sad
And that is how you will stay.

Con dinero y sin dinero,
Hago siempre lo que quiero
Y mi palabra es la ley.

With money and without money,
I always do what I want
And my word is law.

No tengo trono ni reina
Ni nadie que me comprenda
Pero sigo siendo el rey.

I have no throne or queen
Nor anyone who understands me
But I continue being king.

Una piedra en el camino
Me enseño que mi destino
Era rodar y rodar.
(Rodar y rodar, x2)

A stone on the road
Taught me that my destiny
Was to roll and roll.
(To roll and roll, x2)

Después me dijo un arriero
Que no hay que llegar primero
Pero hay que saber llegar.

Afterwards an arriero told me
That one need not make it first
But one must know how to make it.

Con dinero y sin dinero,
Hago siempre lo que quiero
Y mi palabra es la ley.

With money and without money,
I always do what I want
And my word is law.

No tengo trono ni reina
Ni nadie que me comprenda
Pero sigo siendo el rey.

I have no throne or queen
Nor anyone who understands me
But I continue being king.

Translation Notes:

No tengo trono ni reina
Ni nadie que me comprenda

I have no throne nor queen
Nor anyone who understands me

or = o (also u if before a word that begins with the o sound)
nor = ni

Like “nor” in English, ni requires a negative phrase somewhere before it. In this case, it is “no tengo” (I do not have).


Una piedra en el camino me enseño que mi destino
Era rodar y rodar.

A stone on the road taught me that my destiny
Was to roll and roll.

The verb rodar means both “to roll” and “to roam”. He is saying that his destiny is not to stay static in one place, but to move, to roam like the rolling rock.


Después me dijo un arriero
Que no hay que llegar primero
Pero hay que saber llegar.

Afterwards an arriero told me
That one need not make it first
But one must know how to make it.

The verb “llegar” means “to make it” or “to arrive”. The arriero is saying that you don’t need to be first, but reach your goals in life however long they take. Don’t give up.

An arriero is called a “muleteer” or “muleskinner” in English, though I hear arriero in the USA also so I left it untranslated. They are travelers who transport goods (e.g. corn, wheat) using pack animals such as mules or horses.

Renditions:

Vicente Fernández


Alejandro Fernández


George Strait


Jose Alfredo Jimenez – without accents so WordPress search finds my song lyrics translation

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