La Cucaracha

The Spanish song “La Cucaracha” became popular during the Mexican revolution around 1910. With quite obscure Spanish origins, the song was modified over time by groups and individuals according to spontaneous situations, cultural and political events. We can therefore consider it a song of the people, a song of the street, a form of expression of the mood of those who sing it or dance to it.

What is the meaning of La cucaracha?

La cucaracha means the cockroach and it’s about the bug who cannot walk because has missing legs. Although sometimes it’s a humorous song, La cucaracha is also a metaphor for lack and helplessness.

There is no final version of the song and it is often improvised. Here is the traditional Spanish versions of the song with English translation.

“La Cucaracha” Canción tradicional

Spanish version

La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
ya no puede caminar
porque no tiene,
porque le falta
las dos patitas de atrás.

Dicen que la cucaracha
Es un animal pequeño
Y cuando entra en una casa
Se tiene que quedar dueño.


Cuando uno quiere a una
Y esta una no lo quiere,
Es lo mismo que si un calvo
En la calle encuentra un peine


Mi vecina de ahí enfrente
Se llamaba Doña Clara,
Y si no se hubiera muerto
Aún así se llamara.


Cuando Rita se bañaba
En el río San Fernando
Le picó la cucaracha
Pero ella siguió nadando.

“La Cucaracha” Traditional Song

English lyrics

The cockroach, the cockroach,
Can’t walk anymore
Because it doesn’t have,
Because it’s missing
Two little back legs.

People they say the cockroach
Is a very small animal
And when it gets into a house,
It’ll soon be the master of it all.


When a boy loves a girl
And she doesn’t love him back
It’s the same as if a bald man
Finds a comb on the railroad track*.


My neighbor across the street
Had Lady Claire as her name
And if she hadn’t died
She still would be called the same.


When Rita was bathing
In the San Fernando River
The cockroach stung her
But she kept on swimming.


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