Tag Archives: rock en español

Shakira : De música ligera

Long before she was a guest star on The Wizards of Waverly Place (the highlight of her career?), Shakira was your average hip-shaking Colombian trying to make it in the world of pop music. When she was 20, someone was smart enough to book her a slot at La Rata Caliente singing Soda Stereo’s “De música ligera.” Now I find La Rata Caliente (The Hot Rat) an interesting name for a club. But after watching this video of her performance, I think the name actually refers to the smarmy emcee who is dripping all over the young Colombian singer. Am I right?

Ella durmió
Al calor de las masas

Y yo desperté
Queriendo soñarla
Algún tiempo atrás
Pensé en escribirle
Que nunca sorteé
Las trampas del amor

De aquel amor
De música ligera
Nada nos libra
Nada mas queda

No le enviaré
Cenizas de rosas
Ni pienso evitar
Un roce secreto

De aquel amor
de música ligera
Nada nos libra
Nada mas queda

La negra Tomasa

Sometimes you feel really stupid.

So I’ve been listening to Caifanes’ song “La negra Tomasa” for quite a while now. Caifanes, if you don’t know, is kind of like the Mexican version of the Cure: a moody and dark group reacting against 80s pop radio. “La negra Tomasa” is a simple and catchy tune by them with great emotional instrumentation. I never thought of it as anything other than a product of that band.

So I was shocked the other day when I accidentally came across a much different version of the song by Compay Segundo. Segundo is, of course, one of the Cuban greats featured in the Buena Vista Social Club film and CDs. I thought, “That’s crazy…Segundo covered a Mexican rock band?”

Well, I’m the crazy one. “La negra Tomasa” is a song that was around well before Caifanes covered it in the 1980s. It was originally written by the Cuban musician and composer Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe, which goes a long way to explaining how Segundo came to record it. Sheesh!

Fiffe is the one to the far left (because he's Cuban--ja!).

Estoy tan enamorado de la negra Tomasa
que cuando se va de casa triste me pongo.
Estoy tan enamorado de la negra Tomasa
que cuando se va de casa triste me pongo.

¡Ay, Ay, Ay!
Esa negra linda, que me tiene loco, que me come poquito a poco.
Esa negra linda, que me tiene loco, que me come poquito a poco.

Jarabe de Palo : Bonito

I’ve had Spanish group Jarabe de Palo‘s 2003 song “Bonito” stuck in my head for over a week now. I think that the weather has been so cruddy in San Luis this winter that I just needed a pick me up.

Bonito, todo me parece bonito.
Bonita mañana
bonito lugar
bonita la cama
que bien se ve el mar
bonito es el día
y acaba de empezar bonita la vida
respira, respira, respira.

El teléfono suena, mi pana se queja
la cosa va mal, la vida le pesa
que vivir así ya no le interesa
que seguir así no vale la pena
se perdió el amor, se acabo la fiesta
ya no anda el motor que empuja la tierra
la vida es un chiste con triste final
el futuro no existe pero yo le digo.

Bonito, todo me parece bonito.

Bonita la paz, bonita la vida
bonito volver a nacer cada día
bonita la verdad cuando no suena a mentira
bonita la amistad, bonita la risa
bonita la gente cuando hay calidad
bonita la gente cuando que no se arrepiente
que gana y que pierde, que habla y no miente
bonita le gente por eso yo digo.

Bonito todo me parece bonito.

Que bonito que te va cuando te va bonito,
que bonito que te va.

Bonito, todo me parece bonito.

La mar la mañana, la casa, la samba,
la tierra, la paz y la vida que pasa.

Bonito, todo me parece bonito.
Tu cama, tu salsa, la mancha en la
espalda, tu cara, tus ganas el fin de semana.

Bonita la gente que viene y que va
bonita la gente que no se detiene
bonita la gente que no tiene edad
que escucha, que entiende, que tiene y que da.

Bonito Portel, bonito Peret
bonita la rumba, bonito José
bonita la brisa que no tiene prisa
bonito este día, respira, respira
bonita le gente cuando es de verdad
bonita la gente que es diferente
que tiembla, que siente
que vive el presente
bonita le gente que estuvo y no esta.

Bonito, todo me parece bonito.

Que bonito que te va cuando te va bonito,
que bonito que te va.

Que bonito que se esta cuando se esta
bonito, que bonito que se esta.

Bonito, todo me parece bonito.

Hey Lupe, Lupita mi amor

I think the Nashville-based surf revival band Los Straitjackets rocks. I mean, they wear lucha libre masks on stage…what’s not to love? In 2007, the group released Rock en español, Volume 1, an album comprised of Spanish-language covers of 60s songs like “Give Me a Sign” (“Dame una seña”) and “All Day and All of the Night” (“De día y de noche”). It’s awesome. My favorite is “Hey Lupe,” the band’s cover of The McCoy’s 1965 hit “Hang On Sloopy,” which also happens to be the official rock song of the state of Ohio. Here’s the band with Big Sandy on vocals playing it in Santiago de Compostela last year.

But the idea of covering songs in Spanish from rock’s early days is as old as the genre itself. Starting in the 1950s, Mexican groups would cover hits by artists like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley for Spanish-speaking audiences. It was called Mexican Rock or Rock nacional, and it led to a mixing of US popular music with Latin rhythms that would later result in Chicano Rock and artists like Carlos Santana.

One of the biggest Mexican Rock groups was Los Rockin Devils, which was formed in Tijuana in 1962. They were one of the early signers of the genre to Orfeón, a Mexican record company that battled against US giants CBS Records and Capitol Records to sign acts to sell to Mexican audiences south of border and in communities in the American Southwest and Southern California. Here’s LRD doing their own version of “Hey Lupe” and an energetic rendition of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ “Woolly Bully,” retitled “Bule Bule.” By the way, Sam the Sham (Domingo “Sam” Samudio) was of Mexican descent himself.

Often these songs had large changes in the lyrics, in order to fit the original melody and rhythm of the song. So something like this…

Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy hang on
Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy hang on

Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town
And everybody, yeah, tries to put my Sloopy down
Sloopy I don’t care what your daddy do
‘Cause you know, Sloopy girl, I’m in love with you

would be turned into something more like this…

Es Lupe
Lupita mi Amor

Es Lupe
Lupita mi Amor

Lupe es la linda dueña de mi amor
Y todos en la prepa la quieren conquistar
Lupe baila muy bien el ritmo del rock
con ella en las fiestas todos quieren bailar

But as you can tell from listening to just the two versions of “Hey Lupe” here, no two bands do it the same and neither do it exactly the way I have it here. Anyway, it wasn’t long before these bands started writing original music, and I was wondering today if that had something to do with all the lyrical rewriting they did for these covers. It’s just a thought.

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs : Matador (en vivo y subtitulado)

Another oldie but goodie with the title “Matador” is the song by the Argentine band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. It was a big hit in the early 90s, but resurfaces from time to time. For instance, USC used to play it when Mark Sanchez was introduced during their home games. The sound is just okay on this video, but I like the fact that it has Spanish subtitles.

Si me quedo o me voy…

The funky, ska-y, rock-y Argentine group Los Fabulosos Cadillacs not only have a sweet name, they also have a pretty great cover of The Clash classic “Should I Stay or Should I Go” on their 2008 album La Luz del Ritmo. The original Clash version has some Spanish lyrics; the LFC cover has some English ones. Go figure.

(Top version is LFC and it’s audio only. Bottom version is The Clash live.)

Soda Stereo : De música ligera (en vivo, 1990)