Miguel came from a small town in northern Mexico.
He came north with his brother Louis to California three years ago
They crossed at the river levee, when Louis was just sixteen
And found work together in the fields of the San Joaquin

They left their homes and family
Their father said, "My sons one thing you will learn,
for everything the north gives, it exacts a price in return."
They worked side by side in the orchards
From morning till the day was through
Doing the work the hueros wouldn't do.

Word was out some men in from Sinaloa were looking for some hands
Well, deep in Fresno county there was a deserted chicken ranch
And there in a small tin shack on the edge of a ravine
Miguel and Louis stood cooking methamphetamine

You could spend a year in the orchards
Or make half as much in one ten hour shift
Working for the men from Sinaloa
But if you slipped the hydriodic acid
Could burn right through your skin
They'd leave you spittin' up blood in the desert
If you breathed those fumes in

It was early one winter evening as Miguel stood watch outside
When the shack exploded, lighting up the valley night
Miguel carried Louis' body over his shoulder down a swale
To the creekside and there in the tall grass, Louis Rosales died
Miguel lifted Louis' body into his truck and then he drove
To where the morning sunlight fell on a eucalyptus grove
There in the dirt he dug up ten-thousand dollars. all that they'd saved
Kissed his brothers lips and placed him in his grave

Lyrics submitted by oofus

Sinaloa Cowboys song meanings
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  • +1
    My InterpretationThere are not some of the ambiguities that other song lyrics of on Tom Joad have in Sinaloa Cowboys however it's every bit as brilliant.
    The depth of the story he manages to cram into under 4 minutes is astonishing.
    It's relevant, sympathetic, prophetic and beautifully written and sung.
    The image of Miguel kissing his brothers lips and burying him all alone in the middle of nowhere is heartbreaking.
    I completely disagree with the poster who states that it's blood for blood for the brothers making the decision to become involved.
    This is a song about two vulnerable migrants exploited and paying the ultimate price
    nbfentonon November 17, 2016   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationExploitation of foreign workers in this case Mexicans happens all over the 1st world. Great lyrics my favourite part being the end "There in the dirt he dug up ten-thousand dollars. all that they'd saved
    Kissed his brothers lips and placed him in his grave"
    mrgrumbleon September 03, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere is a striking prophetic truth in the words of their father, who claims that "for everything the North gives, it exacts a price in return". At the end of their story, the brothers have indeed been 'given' ten thousand dollars for their work, but the price they had to pay (the death of Louis) is a terrible one.
    hberingson July 09, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationHere is what I got from this song.I think that there is a price to be paid for a persons deeds.
    The 2 brothers,wanting more money, chose to leave their "honest" work in favor of cooking meth,a drug that spreads death and despair to many.
    Their greed overcame their sense of right and wrong,and in the end one of them paid the ultimate price for it.
    Blood for blood.
    Jessguessinon October 01, 2016   Link

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