“El Perro Negro” by José Alfredo Jiménez, English translation

“The Black Dog” Lyrics
Style: Corrido (a storytelling style) about a loyal dog.
Country: Mexico
Listen: YouTube, Amazon


José Alfredo Jiménez was a famous and prolific Mexican singer-songwriter. Remember his name if you are interested in the music history of Latin America or Mexican culture. His songs created a new mythology in Mexico. He sang about characters and stories. This song is about the murder of Gilberto the Brave, who was killed in his sleep by a cowardly but powerful rival. Gilberto had a loyal dog who avenged his murder. 


Al otro lado del puente
De La Piedad, Michoacán,
Vivía Gilberto el Valiente,
Nacido en Apatzingán.

On the other side of the bridge
Of La Piedad, Michoacán,
Lived Gilberto the Brave,
Born in Apatzingán.

Siempre con un perro negro
Que era su noble guardián.

Always with a black dog
That was his noble guardian.

Quería vivir con la Lupe,
La novia de don Julián,
Hombre de mucho dinero,
Acostumbrado a mandar.

He wanted to live with Lupe,
The girlfriend of Don Julian, [*Don is like sir in that it is used to denote higher social status]
Man of a lot of money,
Used to being in charge. [*mandar (verb) = to give orders]

Él ya sabía de Gilberto
Y lo pensaba matar.

He already knew about Gilberto
And intended to kill him.

Un día que no estaba el perro,
Llegó buscando al rival.
Gilberto estaba dormido;
Ya no volvió a despertar.

One day when the dog was not around,
He came looking for his rival.
Gilberto was sleeping;
He did not wake up again.

En eso se oyó un aullido;
Cuentan de un perro del mal.
Era el negro embravecido
Que dio muerte a don Julián.

And suddenly a howl was heard;
They speak of an evil dog.
It was the black (dog) enraged
That delivered death to Don Julian.

Allí quedaron los cuerpos.
Lupita no fue a llorar;
Cortó las flores más lindas
Como pa’ hacer un altar.

The bodies were left there.
Lupita did not go to cry; [*-ita suffix is affectionate]
She cut the most beautiful flowers
As if to make an altar.

Y las llevó hasta una tumba
Del panteón municipal.

And she took them up to a grave
In the municipal cemetery.

Allí estaba echado un perro
Sin comer y sin dormir.
Quería mirar a su dueño;
No le importaba vivir.

There a dog lay
Without eating or sleeping.
He wanted to see his master;
Living did not matter to him.

Así murió el perro negro,
Aquel enorme guardián,
Que quiso mucho a Gilberto
Y dio muerte a don Julián.

Thus died the black dog,
That enormous guardian,
That dearly loved Gilberto [*lit. That loved Gilberto a lot]
And delivered death to Don Julian.

Translation Notes:

Most notes are in text.

Of grammatical interest: don is left lowercase in Spanish, but capitalized in English.

Jose Alfredo Jimenez – without accents so WordPress search can find this song lyrics translation

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