“La Cucaracha” Lyrics and History

Quick Answer

la cucaracha= cockroach

Have you ever wondered why someone would write a song about a cucaracha? Keep reading to learn about the lyrics and history of this insectile earworm.

History

La cucaracha is a traditional Spanish corrido(storytelling ballad) that became popular during the Mexican Revolution. On the surface, La cucaracha is a cute, festive song about a cockroach missing a leg. However, the original versions of the song were satirical, providing Mexicans with a means of expressing the struggles and frustrations associated with la Revolución(the Revolution). It’s unclear who came up with the first version of La cucaracha, and the meaning of the song has always been under debate.

There are various theories regarding the meaning of La cucaracha. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • Some people say La cucaracha depicts a corrupt politician.
  • Some people think La cucaracha represents José Victoriano Huerta Márquez, a Mexican general who became president of Mexico.
  • Some argue that La cucaracha is about soldaderas(camp followers) who traveled with the Mexican troops during the war.
  • Others argue that Pancho Villa’s car was nicknamed La cucaracha. Pancho Villa was a hero of the Mexican Revolution.

Nowadays, La cucaracha is a popular song among children. There are tons of versions, each one more nonsensical than the next. The lyrics vary greatly, but the catchy beat and fun story line remain the same.

Lyrics

As previously mentioned, there are different versions of La cucaracha, but many begin with the same lyrics. Let’s take a look at the English translation of the beginning of one (squeaky clean) version of La cucaracha.

SpanishEnglish
La cucaracha, la cucaracha
The cockroach, the cockroach
ya no puede caminar
can’t walk anymore
porque le falta, porque no tiene
because it’s missing, because it doesn’t have
una pata para andar.
a leg to walk.