“El Perro Negro” by José Alfredo Jiménez, English translation

“The Black Dog” Lyrics
Style: Corrido (a storytelling style) about a loyal dog.
Country: Mexico
Listen: YouTube, Amazon

About:

José Alfredo Jiménez was a famous and prolific Mexican singer-songwriter. Remember his name if you are interested in the music history of Latin America or Mexican culture. His songs created a new mythology in Mexico. He sang about characters and stories. This song is about the murder of Gilberto the Brave, who was killed in his sleep by a cowardly but powerful rival. Gilberto had a loyal dog who avenged his murder. 

Translation:

Al otro lado del puente
De La Piedad, Michoacán,
Vivía Gilberto el Valiente,
Nacido en Apatzingán.

On the other side of the bridge
Of La Piedad, Michoacán,
Lived Gilberto the Brave,
Born in Apatzingán.

Siempre con un perro negro
Que era su noble guardián.

Always with a black dog
That was his noble guardian.

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“Smaragdos Margara” by Dúo Guardabarranco, English translation of lyrics

“Smaragdos Margara (Claviceps Purpura)”, 1995
Album: Si Buscabas (If You Searched), 1985
Singers: Salvador Cardenal and Katia Cardenal
Style: Soft folk music, strong vocals; hauntingly pretty and ambiguous. I like how music travels the world. I actually first heard this song as a cover on Une Histoire de Famille, a French language album by the Montreal band Hart-Rouge.
Country: Nicaragua
Listen: original by Dúo Guardabarranco (softly spoken) on YouTube or Amazon.

Translation:

Con una aguja con hilo blanco,
Con la carrucha en tu regazo,
Cóseme el flanco, la herida aguda,
La negra llaga de mi costado.

With a needle with white thread,
With the spool on your lap,
Sew up my side, my acute wound,
The black ulcer on my side.

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“Interrogación” by Julio Jaramillo, English translation

“Question” Lyrics
Style: Pasillo, heartsickness
Country: Ecuador
Listen at YouTube. Julio Jaramillo would rather be stabbed in the gut than lied to about love. He just wants the truth. I love the lyrics. They are clear and concise but so poetic.

Translation:

Ya no creo en nada.
Hasta dudo de ti.
Siento desconfianza.
Ya no creo ni en mí.

I no longer believe in anything.
I doubt even you.
I feel distrust.
I no longer believe even in me.

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“Paloma Querida” by José Alfredo Jiménez, Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete; English translation of lyrics

“Beloved Dove” Lyrics
Style: Ranchera, love song. A popular old romantic song in Mexico.
Country: Mexico
Listen: YouTube, Amazon

Translation:

Por el día que llegaste a mi vida,
Paloma querida, me puse a brindar,
Y al sentirme un poquito tomado,
Pensando en tus labios, me dio por cantar.

For the day that you entered into my life,
Beloved dove, I began to toast,
And on feeling a little drunk,
Thinking of your lips, I was inspired to sing.

Me sentí superior a cualquiera,
Y un puño de estrellas, te quise bajar,
Pero al ver que ninguna alcanzaba, [*alt. Y al mirar]
Me dio tanta rabia que quise llorar.

I felt superior to anyone,
And a fistful of stars, I wanted to bring down for you,
But on seeing I could not reach a single one, [*alt. And on seeing]
It made me so furious that I wanted to cry.

Yo no sé lo que valga mi vida,
Pero yo te la quiero entregar, [*alt. vengo a]
Yo no sé si tu amor la reciba,
Pero yo te la vengo a dejar. [*alt. entregar]

I do not know what my life may be worth,
But I want to turn it over to you, [*alt. come to]
I do not know if your love will receive it,
But I come to leave it to you. [*alt. turn it over]

Me encontraste en un negro camino
Como un peregrino sin rumbo y sin fey
Y la luz de tus ojos divinos
Cambiaron mi suerte por dicha y placer.

You found me on a black path
Like a pilgrim aimless and faithless [*lit. Like a pilgrim without route and without faith]
And the light of your divine eyes
Changed my luck by good fortune and pleasure.

Desde entonces yo siento quererte
Con todas las fuerzas que el alma me da
Desde entonces, paloma querida,
Mi pecho he cambiado por un palomar.

Since then I feel I love you
With all the forces that my soul gives me
Since then, beloved dove,
I have exchanged my chest for a dovecote.

Yo no sé lo que valga mi vida,
Pero yo te la quiero entregar, [*alt. vengo a]
Yo no sé si tu amor la reciba,
Pero yo te la vengo a dejar. [*alt. entregar]

I do not know what my life may be worth,
But I want to turn it over to you, [*alt. come to]
I do not know if your love will receive it,
But I come to leave it to you. [*alt. turn it over]

Translation Notes:

Pensando en tus labios, me dio por cantar.

Thinking about your lips, I was inspired to sing.

darse por = to be inspired to, to be inclined to

Me dio tanta rabia que quise llorar

It made me so furious that I wanted to cry
It gave me such fury that I wanted to cry [*literal]

Con todas las fuerzas que el alma me da

With all the forces that my soul gives me
With all the forces that the soul gives me [*literally]

Spanish often uses “the” (el/la) where English would use “my” (mi).

Other Renditions:

Pedro Infante (Mexican singer and actor)


Jorge Negrete (Mexican singer and actor)


Plácido Domingo (Spanish opera singer)

“Nuestro Juramento” by Julio Jaramillo, cover by La Santa Cecilia, English translation of lyrics

“Our Vow” (1956) Lyrics
Composer: Benito de Jesús, famously sung by Julio Jaramillo.
Style: Pasillo, waltz-like originally. Many covers in different styles.
Country: Ecuador originally, but popular across Latin America.
Listen: Julio Jaramillo (Ecuador), José Feliciano (Puerto Rico), Javier Solis (Mexico), Vicente Fernández (Mexico) La Santa Cecilia (Mexican-American), Juanes (Colombia).

“Nuestro Juramento” is a well-known romance song across Latin America and arguably Julio Jaramillo’s most famous song. It is about human mortality and passion. It is two lovers who declare to continue loving each other forever, and to be devastated should the other die. The verb jurar means “to swear, to vow” and a juramento is an oath or a vow.

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