I first heard this song done by Ian and Sylvia on their Four Strong Winds album, released in 1964 on Vanguard Records. That's a great label which introduced a lot of folks to folk music which would have never been heard otherwise. Ian Tyson can sing a ballad like this with a voice that would unchoke the hardest heart on the planet. It's a sort of macho cowboy voice, but with an Irish tenor flair that can give you chill bumps.

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."

It's that old story of white guy meets non-white girl and gets his clock cleaned. I like Marty Robbins' El Paso as the best musical example of this tired tale, but this song does a damn good job of retelling a story that actually never gets old.

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."

It was written by Charles Badger Clark, Jr., and originally published in Boston by Sun and Saddle Leather in 1915. Cowboy love songs were fairly popular back then, but not many of them gained the lasting popularity of this one.

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!"

It was originally titled "A Border Affair." That affair word hasn't changed much over the years, has it? But all these years, after so many cowboy ballads have bitten the dust, this one remains popular. Why does one song do that when so many more don't? Just the chord changes and the lyrics. What else could it be? No one knows who wrote the music for this song. The most commonly used melody is from the singing of Richard Dyer-Bennett of a tune he learned from Sam Eskin.

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!"

You've got this somewhat seedy cowpoke who knows he doesn't "look much like a lover." You've got the sultry senorita who whispers the Spanish equivalent of, "Goodbye. I love you," at the end of each verse. Judy Collins has done it. Bob Dylan has done it. But no one does it better than Ian Tyson. I'd suggest you listen to him do this, if your ears haven't already been ruined by the crap on the radio these days.

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!"

CST approved due to © expiration.

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