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SPANISH IS THE LOVING TONGUE

(Charles Badger Clark, Jr.)

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Of all the cowboy love songs which sang of sweethearts true and false, this touching literary ballad by the well-known western poet Charles Badger Clark, Jr., has enjoyed the most sustained popularity. Written under the title, "A Border Affair," the poem struck a responsive note in a sentimental age. Its story of true love thwarted by the barrier of "racial" differences... had wide appeal in a romantic age. And long after many another cowboy ballad had been consigned to the printed page, "A Border Affair" was sung and declaimed by cowboys out on the range. For there is a sentiment which appeals to us all in this bitter-sweet ballad of the rough-hewn cowpuncher who doesn't "look much like a lover" and the senorita who whispered, "Adios, mi corazón."

Notes by Earl Robinson in Irwin Silber, Songs of the American West, New York, 1967, p. 205.


ORIGINAL LYRICS BY CHARLES BADGER CLARK, JR.

Originally published in Charles Badger Clark, Sun and Saddle Leather, Boston, 1915; later included in N. Howard Thorp, Songs of the Cowboys, Boston, 1921. Music: unknown composer; most commonly used melody from the singing of Richard Dyer-Bennett (learned from Sam Eskin), transcribed in The People's Songs Bulletin (Vol. 3, No. 11).


Spanish is the loving tongue,
Soft as music, light as spray:
'Twas a girl I learned it from,
Living down Sonora way.
I don't look much like a lover,
Yet I say her love words over,
Often when I'm all alone --
"Mi amor, mi corazón."

Nights when she knew where I'd ride
She would listen for my spurs,
Fling the big door open wide,
Raise them laughin' eyes of hers;
And my heart would nigh stop beating
When I heard her tender greeting,
Whispered soft for me alone --
"Mi amor, mi corazón."

Moonlight in the patio,
Old Senora nodding near,
Me and Juana talking low
So the Madre couldn't hear;
How those hours would go a-flyin'!
And too soon I'd hear her sighin'
In her little sorry tone --
"Adios, mi corazón!"

But one time I had to fly
For a foolish gamblin' fight,
And we said a swift goodbye
In that black unlucky night.
When I'd loosed her arms from clingin'
With her words the hoofs kept ringin'
As I galloped north alone --
"Adios, mi corazón!"

Never seen her since that night --
I can't cross the Line, you know.
She was "Mex" and I was white;
Like as not it's better so.
Yet I've always sort of missed her
Since that last wild night I kissed her;
Left her heart and lost my own --
"Adios, mi corazón!"


As recorded by Dylan, Nashville, TN, Apr 24, 1969 (released on "Dylan");

transcribed by Manfred Helfert.


Broke her heart, lost my own,
"Adios, mi corazón!"

Spanish is the loving tongue,
Soft as music, light as spray:
'Twas a girl I learned it from,
Living down Sonora way.
Well, I don't look much like a lover,
Still I say her love words over,
Mostly when I'm all alone --
"Mi amor, mi corazón."

Haven't seen her since that night --
I can't cross the line, you know.
They want me for a gamblin' fight;
Like as not it's better so.
Still I always kind of missed her
Since that last sad night I kissed her;
Broke her heart, lost my own --
"Adios, mi corazón!"
Broke her heart, lost my own --
"Adios, mi corazón!"

"Adios, mi corazón!"


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