There are some songs that take you back. Some songs that transport you to a magical place, a place where you loved or a time when you loved and lost. Just a few bars fill you with memories of su patria, su gente, el amor de su vida. Thebest of these get recorded and re-recorded by artists trying to capture that special essence of an unforgettable song.
The ones I love most are in Spanish. Even though they were written by Latinos for Latino hearts, they transcend culture…for love and music are universal languages. I present here a handful of canciones clásicos that have touched Latino and non-Latino listeners around the world.
Written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez, “Bésame Mucho” was made famous by Lucho Gatica, but has been covered by everyone from the Beatles to Andrea Boticelli. Here, the famoso Pedro Infante singing a version in Spanglish….
The world famous Cuban song “Guantanamera” dates back to 1929. Both a song of patriotism and of unrequited love, the song has been recorded by more than 30 artists. But none with so much vitality as Cuban superstar Celia Cruz.
“Caballo Viejo” is a Venezuelan folk song whose poetry has been translated into 12 different languages. The Gipsy Kings made the folk tune a worldwide hit (under the title “Bamboleo”), but I prefer this classical version, which shows off the haunting brilliance of the song’s guitar.
Que Nadie Sepa Mi Sufrir
This has to be one of my favorite songs ever made. Written by Argentinean composers in 1936, the song is in the style of a Peruvian waltz. The somber but defiant lyrics exemplify determined resilience in the face of ultimate heartbreak. And no one does heartbreak better than Ecuador’s most famous singer, Julio Jaramillo.
Mexican singer-songwriter José Alfredo Jiménez (1926-1973) composed over 1000 songs in his lifetime. This makes him not only one of the most prolific songwriters among Latinos, but among pop musicians worldwide. One of his most famous is “Media Vuelta” catapulted by of course…Luis Miguel on Segundo Romance, the best-selling Latin album of the 1990s by a male artist. The video features a full mariachi band and his dreamy glances into the camera.
Hasta Que Te Conoci
Maybe it’s too soon to call this a classic, but the musical masterpieces of Juan Gabriel deserve a mention. In 2009, he was named Latin Recording Academy’s Person of the Year on November 4, 2009. Some of the most famous artists in the Spanish music industry (Marc Anthony, Rocío Dúrcal Ana Gabriel) have covered his songs. Not only are they sure-fire hits (“Quien Como Tu,” “Querida,” “Amor Eterno”), but they have what few pop songs do: longevity. This one pierces the heart with its famous declaration: “Yo era muy feliz…Hasta que te conocí.” It’s a sentiment many of us can relate to: “I did not know suffering or sadness until I fell in love with you.”
What songs continue to touch YOUR soul and rouse your imagination?
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.