Is Tanya Tucker’s ‘The Wheels of Laredo’ an Artful Statement on Illegal Immigration? [Listen]
Tanya Tucker returns with a throbbing ballad called "The Wheels of Laredo," a song that appears to acutely point at the contradictions inherent in the illegal immigration debate.
The glaze of this well-written country-folk song hints at a brokenhearted love story, but a deeper exploration of her lyrics and chosen locations find the legend making a point with her first offering of new music in nearly two decades. An innocent child strolls the bank of the Rio Grande as chaos erupts all around her. Tucker watches, unable to help with sanctity all around her on the American side. Guadalupe Market Square is in Laredo, which is itself a hotbed of ICE detention.
The second verse of "The Wheels of Laredo" paints an Americanized version of the same scene, subtly pointing out the contradictions that come with looking to pinch off the flow of immigrants to America. It's helpful if you know Jamboozie is a yearly event in Laredo that celebrates the influences of multiple cultures. Again those church bells ring, yet there is no salvation for those hoping to flee violence miles from their celebration.
The very woke Brandi Carlile wrote "The Wheels of Laredo" with the Twins (Tim and Phil Hanseroth) — in fact, this trio wrote most of the upcoming While I'm Living album.
Did You Know?: Tanya Tucker's covers Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me" on the While I'm Living album.
Here Are the Most Powerful Women In Country Music! Tanya, Included!
Tanya Tucker's "The Wheels of Laredo" Lyrics:
On a winter night in Webb County, Texas / On the north bank of the mighty Rio Grande / I was watching the jungle fires burning / Across the border of a not so distant land / And the echoes of the church bells that were swinging / Could be heard from Guadalupe Market Square / There was a girl down there on the south side of the river / She had feathers tied into her long black hair.
If I was a white-crowned sparrow / Well I would float upon the southern skies of blue / But I’m stuck inside the wheels of Laredo / Wishing I was rolling back with you.
I put on my favorite jacket for Jamboozie / I painted up my eyes and wore my beads / There was a band playing to “God Be the Glory” / There were people dancing all around the streets / There were barrels on the sidewalk that were burning / And a fortune teller reading people's hands / And I swear I heard those church bells ringing / Across the borders of a not so distant land.