Diomedes Diaz, "El Lider"

Vallenato (along perhaps with Cumbia) is the most Colombian of all musical styles. Born in the town of Valledupar, Vallenato is mostly played in 2/4 time and prominently features the accordion. The best way to describe vallenato in the American and European context is that of folk music, but its popularity is extremely wide-ranging in Colombia and (these days) other countries as well. As such, it's more like Colombian pop music which everyone listens to, but it's well outside the confines of the pop tradition. When you get in a taxi, vallenato will be playing. When you go to a party, vallenatos will be played. At my sister's quinciañera party, the band played mostly vallenatos (okay and lots of merengue too). Even as a kid growing up, when I only wanted to listen to metal and punk rock, vallenato was as much a part of my life as Slayer. More than music, things like vallenato are simply part of Colombian culture to a degree that is difficult to explain, because it has no equal in the Euro-American mileu.



Ramon Hoyos


Now that I've tried to convey to you just how important and popular vallenato is in Colombia, I should tell you that the undisputed king of the musical style is Diomedes Diaz. I can't even begin to make a comparison in order to make you understand his reign over vallenato. He's it. He's the one. He's the only one. It's with that mind that I offer you this song, which may not be the greatest vallenato song ever...not even close...but it has the best lyrics of any vallenato. Ever. By the way, the musical style is called "vallenato", but so is a song in that musical style.

A little context: the song was recorded in 1987, the year that Lucho Herrera won the Vuelta a España.

Translation of the lyrics below. Note the references to Ramon Hoyos and Chochise.


The video below has been taken down. You can hear the song here.





Lyrics to "El Lider" (The Leader)

I'm so happy because Colombia
is about to enjoy a grand event

There's lots of pride, and great honor
which inspires me to sing (2x)

I'm talking about international cycling
Where Colombians, with great pride,
Show off their professional talents
To cyclists of all other nations

Because in Colombia, we're talking about pedaling
We're so good, that even Colombian cycling fans and amateurs
could compete easily with the world's best cyclists (2x)

Here comes the leader, across the finish line
Let's all get ready to clap and cheer with great fervor
So that all of Colombia can be moved with emotion
Because nothing can hold back our man, from being the Champion

Here comes the leader, so let's make room and clear out the road!

Back from the time of Ramon Hoyos,
To the great Cochise, World Champion!

We are Colombians, and we know
that no one can be as good as us (2x)
Because our cyclists will always understand
that they bring great honor to our beautiful country,
and no one can beat them when they ride
This is why they have reached international fame

If they ever got any better at climbing
They'll need wings so they can fly! (2x)

Here comes the leader, so let's make room and clear out the road!

Go young men! Go young Colombian men!
Keep pedaling, keep climbing those mountains!
Because you will bring victory to our Colombian lands

Here comes the race leader, he's the Champion
He's about to cross the finish line
And he will be our king.




Even if the song was recorded in 1987, I'm sharing it today with you (if you'll excuse me for being a bit sentimental and cheesy) in honor of Jose Serpa (Androni-Giocattoli) for his second place, behind Nibali, at the Tour de San Luis. Additionally, the Colombian national team won the team classification in that race. The national team included Santiago Botero (who finished fifth overall) and Victor Hugo Peña.

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Extra credit:

Wikipedia entry for vallenato

Diomedes Diaz on iTunes

An interesting tradition in vallenato is that of piqueria, which is very much like an MC battle in the context of hip-hop. Each signer gets a set number of bars and challenges the other with creative insults and complicated rhyming schemes. Here's a video of a friendly match.

On an unrelated note, I'm looking into frame pumps. Anyone have any suggestions? Most seem cheaply built to me, and I'm afraid they would simply break under the pressure of my Hulk-like strength.