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Neil Young - Cortez the Killer
The song is about Hernán Cortés, a conquistador who conquered Mexico for Spain in the 1500s. The song also makes reference to the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II and other events that occurred in the Spanish conquest of the New World. Young has stated in concert that he wrote the song while studying history in high school.

In the liner notes for Decade, Neil writes that the song is banned in Spain. In Spain, Hernando Cortez (or Hernán Cortés) is considered a national hero.

In Mexico, Cortez is viewed less favorably. In the early 1500's, Cortez had an army of 600 sail from what is now Cuba to the Aztec nation where he was considered to be a god. Cortez took their leader -- Emperor Montezuma -- as hostage and then killed many of the Aztecs. He also unwittingly brought new diseases to the Americas, which the natives had no immunities towards. He built what is now Mexico City with slave labor and returned to Spain a hero.

Cortez The Killer by Neil Young
He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.

On the shore lay Montezuma
With his coca leaves and pearls
In his halls he often wondered
With the secrets of the worlds.

And his subjects gathered 'round him
Like the leaves around a tree
In their clothes of many colors
For the angry gods to see.

And the women all were beautiful
And the men stood straight and strong
They offered life in sacrifice
So that others could go on.

Hate was just a legend
And war was never known
The people worked together
And they lifted many stones.

They carried them to the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up with their bare hands
What we still can't do today.

And I know she's living there
And she loves me to this day
I still can't remember when
Or how I lost my way.

He came dancing across the water
Cortez, Cortez
What a killer.