Do we have a favorite song that can be said to express our deepest feelings of love and longing? A music that appeals to all popular music listeners, from rock, country, jazz, salsa, reggae and K-pop?
According to a German journalist writing in 2004, there is is A song that is “the most played, the most sung, the most listened, the most recorded, the most diverse song in the history of the world”. There are many “en” expressions in this sentence, but “La Paloma” ticks all the boxes.
Several musicologists claim it rivals the Beatles’ “Yesterday” as the most recorded song ever. How many times has “La Paloma” been recorded? Despite being as popular as yesterday, it was not played as much as “La Paloma” at weddings in Zanzibar and funerals in Romania.
It was sung by 88,600 people at a football stadium in Hamburg in 2004, and no other song entered the Guinness World Record except “Yesterday” or “La Paloma”. “Yesterday” was not included in the soundtrack of dozens of movies. . The Pigeon’s Song “La Paloma” has a long and rich history in cinema. It was introduced to the big screen in 1930 with “La Paloma”, a four-minute cartoon produced by Max Fleischer for Paramount Pictures.
He appeared in the 1934 Douglas Fairbanks-Merle Oberon adventure comedy. Don Juan’s Private Life, although all incarnations of the fictional Don Juan appeared decades before “La Paloma” was written. In epic biography JuarezBette Davis and Brian Aherne as Carlotta and Emperor Maximillian von Hapsburg overhear the song from the balcony of Chapultepec at night.
“I wonder who you are,” thought Maximillian. “Who knows,” Carlotta replies. According to a post on YouTube, the Mexican great mezzo soprano was Consuelo Melendez. (The couple had been sent to rule Mexico by Napoleon III. The new emperor and empress loved “La Paloma” when she first heard it, thinking it was an old Mexican folk song, and would never have known she might have arrived in Mexico at roughly the same time they did. )
The song was included in Kurosawa’s soundtrack. stray dog (1949), by Don Siegel Invasion of the Corpse Thieves (1956), Elvis blue hawaii (1961) Under “No More”. Inside Father Part II The orchestra plays “La Paloma” at the New Year’s Eve festivities in Havana just before Batista is ousted. for German submarines Preloading (1981) “La Paloma” evokes memories of peaceful pre-war days as they flee from Allied destroyers in the cold, dark depths of the Atlantic. It carries a poignant connotation for a young South Korean woman with Alzheimer’s disease. a moment to remember (2004) and for a rare moment of emotional reflection in the Philippine gangster movie Manilla Kingpin (2011).
creative in the shadows
Where did “La Paloma” come from? Much of the song’s history has been cloaked in a romantic legend, resisting the most selfless efforts of researchers. What we do know is that it was written by a Basque church musician and composer named Sebastian de Iradier y Salaverri, who was born in northern Spain in 1809. The Parisian publisher of his compositions suggested that he change his surname to Yradier, Spanish Iradier. Little is known about his life. He went to Cuba in the early 1860s, where he first heard his distinctive habanera rhythm, where he spent time listening to the traditional songs of Cuban sailors, although we can only go by legend.
Although the lyrics of the songs were often different, they often told similar stories of loneliness in the turbulent and always indifferent sea, the longing for home, the pain of separation from loved ones, and the ever-present fear of death.
There was one theme that particularly struck Yradier; this theme can be traced back to 492 BC, when the Persian emperor Darius the Great sent a fleet under the command of Admiral Mardonius before his invasion of Greece. Just off the coast of Mount Athos, Mardonius’ ships were caught in a storm and wrecked and scattered. As the storm subsided, the Greeks watching from the shore were surprised to see clouds of white birds flying from the damaged Persian ships. They may have been the homing pigeons sailors used to communicate with the Persian Army, but in the legend born from the retelling, the birds evolved from sailors doomed to death into white doves carrying messages of love and farewell to their loved ones.
Because of their kinship with their fellow sailors, the Persians, the Greeks wrote songs to praise the white doves, which bore the sailors’ last words about love and longing.
We do not know what songs Yradier heard in Havana’s taverns from sailors all over the world, but we do know that he penned a tribute to the white doves, the carriers of messages from the spirit, and infused it with the distinctive Cuban habanera rhythm.
Researchers concluded that sometime between 1861 and 1863—the favorite guess for this year’s 160th anniversary is 1863—Yradier composed the piece known as “La Paloma,” the Dove’s Song. Its popularity spread with surprising speed in Spain and returned to Cuba and Mexico, both of which lay claim today. It is considered the unofficial theme song of Cinco de Mayo in most of Mexico. It spread from the Caribbean to the world.
According to the Spanish embassy in Washington DC, Yradier died in the dark in 1865 and was buried in Vitoria-Gasteiz. He had no idea that he was writing the world’s most popular song. Two years later, the legend of “La Paloma” gained strength when Emperor Maximillian wanted to hear it as the last song before Benito Juarez was executed by his revolutionary army.
enter the phonograph
In 1877 the phonograph was invented and two years later, according to James Fuld The Book of World Famous Music“‘La Paloma’ owns the copyright to the song translated in Spain as “American song with piano accompaniment”.
In 1896, Italian-American tenor Ferruccio Giannini became the first singer to record the opera; He made the first known recording of “La Paloma” in the same session. Seven years later, Brooklyn-born French-American mezzo-soprano Zélie de Lussan recorded her interpretation that can still be heard today.
In the 20th century, “La Paloma” became a virtual anthem for sailors of fleets around the world. Except for the sailors of the Austrian navy, who refused to play or sing the song in homage to Maximilian. Until 1960, when someone in the Austrian government realized that “La Paloma” had to be played in his honor because he was the favorite of the murdered emperor.
Over the next hundred years, “La Paloma” would be recorded more than 2,000 times by one estimate. In 2004, a German journalist described Kalle Laar as “the undisputed expert and collector of La Paloma”, saying that he had long lost track of him, but that he thought the number could exceed 5,000.
No matter how many recordings can be found, German independent label Trikont is picking up every version of “La Paloma” they can find, embarking on a project that it admits can be “seemingly crazy”. This included interpretations of opera masters (Placido Domingo), pop singers (Dean Martin, Engelbert Humperdinck, Mireille Matthieu, Julio Iglesias), folk artists (Nana Mouskouri), country singers (Marty Robbins), and jazz greats (Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan). . ). There are records from Afghanistan, China and India.
There is a “La Paloma” from Big Mama, an all-female South Korean group. Even included contributions two Elvises—Presley and Costello (the latter went to Berlin for the recording session).
The record label’s search for “La Paloma” was so extensive that they even included a small piece of his label. Maltese FalconSam Spade of Humphrey Bogart said the blackbird had just arrived on the La Paloma.
In 2004 Trikont released a CD: La Paloma: A Song for All the Worlds With 25 versions that their PRs call the song “the only tune that has fluctuated in the melodic memory of the human race for the past 130 years”. It always finds new roots in changing and contrasting texts and emotions: love, pain, homesickness, longing for travel, joy of living and fear of death.” (Eventually Trikont released several “La Paloma” CDs.)
For generations, writers and poets have struggled to put a needle into “La Paloma’s” call, only to be content with words like the indescribable and mysterious. Fascinated by the song, Marcel Proust concluded that one should stop analyzing the song and surrender to it. In his essay “In Praise of Bad Music” (bad meaning pervasive, non-classical, artless), he wrote: “Because it was played and sung with much, much more passion than good music, it became more and more associated with dreams and tears. music full of humanity. So worthy of worship. ”
Still, it should be noted that Sebastian Yradier made an introduction to the world of good music. In 1875, French composer Georges Bizet wrote his immortal work. CarmenArguably the most popular opera of all time. His best-known song was “The Habanera” with its distinctive rhythm. When Bizet came across the composition “El Arreglito” (The Arrangement), he thought it was a folk song. Bizet later referred to Yrader in the vocal score. Thus, Sebastian Yradier became the first two-beat great composer of the most recorded songs in both bad and good music.
“La Paloma” has been sung in so many languages and in so many styles that there is no such thing as a standard translation of the lyrics. But this English translation of Nana Mouskouri’s hugely popular recording is just as good and better than most.
(Note: This piece is dedicated to my father, Alfred Barra, who convinced me to watch it. Juarez The beginning of a love affair with him when I was 11, which has lasted to this day.)