“El Ramalazo” by Flor Silvestre, cover by Selena Quintanilla, English translation of lyrics

“The Fall”, lit. “The Impact” or “The Blast of Wind”
Style: Mariachi
Countries: United States (Texas), Mexico
Listen: This song is full of life advice and metaphors. It speaks about the fall of a great tree. It was so large, and it fell so hard. The song is covered on Selena Quintanilla-Pérez’s anthology album, disc 2. Listen on YouTube here.

Translation:

Deja amistades pa’ cuando caigas,
Te den la mano.
Brinde una copa pa’ cuando llores,
Te den un trago.

Keep friendships so that when you fall,
They give you a hand.
Raise your glass (to others’ happiness) so that when you cry,
They give you a drink.

No todo es suerte, suerte,
Mi buen amigo, mi buen amigo.
Yo vi torres altas que un día
Brillaron muy juntito al sol.

Not everything is luck, luck,
My good friend, my good friend.
I have seen tall towers that one day
Shone very close to the sun.

No des la espalda
A quien pretenda
Darte un consejo.

Do not turn your back [*lit. Do not give your back]
On those who try
To give you (a piece of) advice.

Yo vi crecer en Torre de Oro
A un verde pirul.

I saw grow, on Torre de Oro, [*name of a place, means “Golden Tower”]
A green pirul tree. [*an evergreen tree also called a pepper tree]

Y cuando me lo tumbaron,
Fue tan fuerte el ramalazo,
Que al caer se hizo pedazos,
 [*hacer = to do; to make; hacerse = to become]
Que hasta el corazón me dolió.
(2x)

And when they knocked it down,
The impact was so strong,
That on falling it broke to pieces,
That even my heart hurt.
(x2)

Translation Notes:

ramalazo [m. noun] = blast, hit; sudden blast of weather (wind or rain); slam; sharp pain from being smacked with a tree branch; bruise from being smacked by a tree branch

Look it up in CollinsWordReferenceBabylon, and the Real Academia Española.

You will see related but varying definitions because ramalazo has an onomatopoeia quality due to the suffix -azo. It is not true onomatopoeia, though. The root word is ramal (tree branch).

As for the title of the song, imagine a tree with lots of branches hitting the ground with lots of force, possibly due to a strong wind. El ramalazo could refer to the fall or the wind or both. Interpret it as you prefer. I think the point of the song is that strong things (and people) can fall, too.

Deja amistades pa’ cuando caigas, te den la mano.
Keep friendships so that when you fall, they give you a hand.

pa’ = para (abbreviation heard in Mexican Spanish)

dejar [verb] = to leave
In this case, the meaning is not negative (to abandon), but positive (to leave in place, to allow to remain). When you go through life, sow friendships.

—-

Brinde una copa pa’ cuando llores, / Te den un trago.

Raise your glass to happiness so that when you cry, / They give you a drink.

brindar [verb] = to raise a glass; to toast
This is a very visual verb. Imagine the cheerfulness and goodwill that goes with the action of raising your glass to someone.

trago [m. noun] = a swallow (as a unit of measurement)
It is the liquid version of “give you a bite (to eat).”

Yo vi torres altas que un día / Brillaron muy juntito al sol.

I have seen tall towers that one day / Shone very close to the sun.

junto a [adj.] = close to; next to
muy juntito a = very close to

Spanish often uses the -ito suffix to indicate smaller measurements. Here, it strengthens the word junto.

No des la espalda a quien pretenda darte un consejo.

Do not turn your back on those who try to give you advice.

Actually singular. “Quien” is singular and acts like a (genderless) noun:

Do not turn your back on s/he who tries to give you advice.

Y cuando me lo tumbaron…
And when they knocked it down…

me – here signifies that though it was the tree that was knocked down, the action is also something that was done to the song narrator by virtue of the narrator’s connection to the tree.

You hear this sometimes when people talk about actions that were taken against their loved ones or their possessions. A parent will cry, me golpearon a mi hijo (they beat up my kid). Proud car owners will bemoan, me rayaron mi carro (they scratched up my car). In these examples, it is as if these actions were done to the parent and the car owner, even if not directly done to them.

This song might be very old. The first Mexican reference I can find is from a 1959 Mexican film, but the line about “Torre de Oro” makes me think it might be an older song from Spain. Torre del Oro is the name of an old military watchtower in Seville, Spain.

Other Renditions:

Flor Silvestre, Mexican singer and actress, sings “El Remalazo” in 1959

There is a version with both Flor Silvestre and Fernando Casanova that was part of the film “Luciano Romero“, filmed in 1959. This might be the oldest or at least the first recorded version, part of the Mexican cinema golden age.


Luis Aguilar and Pedro Infante (Mexican) sing it also as a ranchera

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