The Streets of Laredo

Texas Modernity and Its Discontents

978-1-64843-270-5 Cloth
6 x 9 x 0 in
168 pp. 4 b&w photos. 4 maps. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 11/11/2024
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Arguing that the well-known cowboy ballad “The Streets of Laredo” is an early expression of “discontent with an encroaching modernity,” author José E. Limón draws upon ethnomusicology, folklore, history, contemporary literature, and other sources to provide a deeply contextualized analysis of the song. He explores its place in the imaginative construction of the American West and its role in the interpretation of both Anglo-American and Mexican American identity in the Texas borderlands and beyond.

With the ballad as his point of departure, Limón takes readers on a tour that includes formative experiences from his childhood in Laredo and Corpus Christi; examination of the works of Américo Paredes, Larry McMurtry, and others; and considerations of American popular music, cinema, baseball, and associated socio-cultural phenomena. The result is a complex and intriguing view of Texas and American culture as seen through the lens of a “simple” cowboy song.

“It is my hope,” Limón writes in his introduction, “that this account of these central figures in Texas history—the ordinary cowboy and this ballad—will prove useful as Texas deals with the current and deeply conflicted phase in its long struggle with modernity.” The Streets of Laredo: Texas Modernity and Its Discontents offers readers important new perspectives on how society struggles with, understands, and comes to terms—or fails to come to terms—with the inevitable changes wrought by an evolving culture.

American Wests, sponsored by West Texas A&M University

Published by Texas A&M University Press