“Te Esperaré” by Julio Jaramillo, English translation of lyrics

“I Will Wait For You” Lyrics
Style:
Pasillo, vals (waltz), unrequited love song
Country
: Ecuador
Listen: YouTube, Amazon

Translation:

Te esperaré.
Sé que me quieres
Y yo seré tu adoración.
En mi recuerdo, grabado estará tu nombre.
Toda la vida, te esperaré y serás mi gran amor.

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“La Mujer” by Mon Laferte and Gloria Trevi, English translation

“The Woman” Lyrics
Album: Seis (Six), 2021
Style: A gloriously dramatic bolero breakup song. The dramatic but energetic style makes the lyrics imagery clearly figurative, not literal, but possibly this needs a trigger warning for suicide/murder/drugs. Just in case!
Countries: Chile, Mexico
Listen: YouTube, Amazon

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“El Caballo Blanco” by José Alfredo Jiménez, English translation

“The White Horse” Lyrics
Style: Corrido about a white horse, but it’s really about a road trip all over Mexico on a car (romanticized as a horse).
Country: Mexico
Listen: YouTube, Amazon

About:

This song is about a road trip [es] that José Alfredo Jiménez took from Guadalajara (in central Mexico) to Baja California (just south of the United States southwest) on a white 1957 Chrysler. It is a good song to teach Mexican geography, since he mentions the places he passes on his journey.

Translation:

Este es el corrido del caballo blanco,
Que en un día domingo feliz arrancara. *
Iba con la mira de llegar al norte, *
Habiendo salido de Guadalajara.

This is the narrative of the white horse,
That on a Sunday, happily took off. *
He went with the goal of reaching the north, *
Having left from Guadalajara.

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“Primer Día” by Julieta Venegas ft. Dante Spinetta, English translation

“First Day” Lyrics
Album: Limon y Sal (Lemon and Salt), 2006
Style: Pop, love song, possibly breakup song, possibly the start of a new relationship though it sounds like one person wants it more than the other.
Country: Mexico
Listen: YouTube

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“Tuyo y Mío” by Camilo and Los Dos Carnales, English translation

“Yours and Mine” Lyrics
Album: Mis Manos (Mi Hands), 2021
Style: A romantic Norteña (a North Mexican music style)
Countries: Colombia (Camilo), Mexico (Los Dos Carnales)
Listen: YouTube.

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“Quiero Verte Feliz” by La Santa Cecilia and Lila Downs, English translation

“I Want To See You Happy” Lyrics, 2021 single
Countries: USA (California), Mexico
Style: Cumbia about being ready to be happy again despite all the bad things happening in the world.
Listen: YouTube, Amazon

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“Cuatro Caminos” by José Alfredo Jiménez, English translation of lyrics

“Four Paths”
Style: Ranchera, mariachi, forsaken love song. A song about picking your life path when you feel lost. The cuatro caminos refers to the four cardinal directions.
Country: Mexico
Listen: YouTube, Amazon

Translation:

Es imposible que yo te olvide.
Es imposible que yo me vaya.
Por donde quiera que voy te miro.
Ando con otra y por ti suspiro.

It is impossible for me to forget you.
It is impossible for me to leave.
Because wherever I go, I see you.
I am with another and I sigh for you.

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“Que Te Vaya Bonito” by José Alfredo Jiménez, English translation of lyrics

“May Things Go Beautifully For You”
Style: Sorrowful mariachi love song. This is a post-breakup song, with the narrator wishing his former lover nothing but good things. It sounds like he ended the relationship due to outside circumstances.
Country: Mexico
Listen: YouTube, Amazon. The song was also used for a 1978 Mexican film, but there is little information available online.

Translation:

Ojalá que te vaya bonito.
Ojalá que se acaben tus penas,
Que te digan que yo ya no existo,
Y conozcas personas más buenas.
..

I hope that things go beautifully for you.
I hope that your sorrows end,
That they tell you that I no longer exist,
And that you meet better people…

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“La Unica” by Juanes, English translation

“The Only One” Lyrics
AlbumUn Día Normal (A Normal Day), 2002
Style: Rock, love song, sweet. Juanes sings about his irreplaceable, incomparable lover. It is a sweet love song from an old album.
Country: Colombia
Listen: YouTube

Translation:

Yo te quiero a ti.
Yo no quiero a nadie más.
Porque eres tú la que me hace suspirar.

I love you. [*querer (verb) = to love; to want]
I want no one else.
Because it is you who makes me sigh.

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“En La Obscuridad” by Belinda, English translation of lyrics

“In the Darkness” Lyrics
Album: Catarsis (Catharsis), 2013
Style: Club, techno
Country: Spain (born), Mexico (raised)
Listen: YouTube, Amazon. Tomorrow is the winter solstice, so here is a club song that mentions being in darkness a lot. The song is about addiction to love, superficially, but also about addiction to drugs. People walk on walls in the music video, and the police come in the end. Don’t mess up your biochemistry, people. The song is energetic, though.

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“Gracias” by José Alfredo Jiménez, English translation of lyrics

“Thank You”, 1972
Style: Mariachi farewell song.
Country: Mexico
Listen: YouTube, Amazon.

José Alfredo Jiménez died 41 years ago on November 23, 1973.

My father is a huge fan of José Alfredo Jiménez. Once, when I was visiting home and helping him install a new music program, he started filling his playlist and found this song. He told me more about the legendary José Alfredo Jiménez, beloved and prolific singer-songwriter of Mexico. Jiménez died in 1973 of cirrhosis of the liver due to his drinking. He didn’t die sad or regretful, though. He died full of gratitude for his fans. He composed this last song, “Gracias” (Thank You) to express his love for everyone, and to let people know that he thought his life was wonderful, and that he had made peace with his upcoming death.

He picked his own epigram, arranged his own funeral, and settled his affairs. Here is an interview with José Alfredo Jiménez at the hospital. Fourteen days before his death, he left the hospital and drove to have dinner with his son, then they played dominos all night.

To this day, he is still internationally famous for his character- and story-driven lyrics. When people think of mariachi, ranchera, and corrido songs, they think of José Alfredo Jiménez.

Translation:

¿Cómo puedo pagar
Que me quieran a mí
Por todas mis canciones?

How can I repay
That you all love me
For all my songs?

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“Cuidado” by José José; La Santa Cecilia; English translation of lyrics

“Careful” Lyrics
AlbumsCuidado (1969); Someday New (2014)
Style: Soulful alternative rock, ballad-like, with bass and acoustic instruments, including accordion.
Countries: United States (Los Angeles, CA); Mexico

Listen:

The song by José José is directed to a lover who is doing things that will lead to a breakup. You can listen to the original version by José José (1969) or La Santa Cecilia’s cover (2014) at YouTube. I love the way lead singer Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernandez harmonizes the warnings in the lyrics until the words vibrate.

José José:

La Santa Cecilia:

Today is the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, but Day of the Dead is coming up on November 1-2. I recommend listening to La Santa Cecilia’s lively “La Negra” (YouTube and translation). I’m also curious about the upcoming animated movie, The Book of Life premiering October 17.

Translation (following La Santa Cecilia’s version):

Cuidado,
Mucho cuidado,
Que estás tomando por un rumbo equivocado.

Careful,
Be very careful,
Because you are going down a wrong road.

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Cantinflas (2014) cultural background notes

I saw the film Cantinflas (2014) this weekend. I liked it, but thought it was a little too Hollywood-centric. If you want to see the movie and don’t know anything about Cantinflas, I wrote some cultural background for you:

(1) Who is Cantinflas“Cantinflas” is the stage name of a Mexican comedy actor, real name Mario Fortino Alfonso Moreno Reyes, who lived 1911 to 1993. He was famous for his word play, and in particular word play that used Mexican Spanish vocabulary and idiomatic phrases. The 1900s were a time when Mexico was creating its independent identity after revolution, a time of increasing Mexican pride in mestizo/mixed heritage and culture whereas before Spanish/European culture was considered supreme. Mexican Spanish has a lot of words derived from Nahuatl, the Aztec language. To understand Cantinflas’ comedy, you needed to understand these common Mexican Spanish words.

(2) Cantinflas’ comedy style — The actor has resulted in the Spanish verb cantinflear, which means “to speak a lot and say little; to babble; to speak in a nonsensical way.” This is in reference to Cantinflas’ exaggerated obsfugation of language, and his “extemporaneous, incoherent verbiage”. It is funny because it superficially mimics the flowery language of more powerful people (upper classes, pedantics, bureaucrats, authorities, etc.) while really not communicating much. Additionally, Cantinflas builds off of misunderstandings and uses a lot of wordplay, moving dialogue from its original topic to “chaotic” tangents. I think the translators of Cantinflas (2014) worked best with the wordplay, and had a harder time with the babbling. It’s not their fault. When the native language dialogue is wordy and babbly, you know it’s on purpose. When the subtitles are wordy and babbly, you naturally first wonder if the translation is just bad. This may affect the comedic timing if you aren’t fluent in Spanish. The babbling scenes are short and few, though, so don’t worry about this.

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“El Coyote” by José Alfredo Jiménez, English translation of lyrics

“The Coyote”, mid-20th century
Style: Corrido with mariachi music. This is the story of an unrequited love triangle that ended in the rival’s death.
Country: Mexico
Listen: YouTube, Amazon

Translation:

Le pinte un cuatro al coyote, y me fui para la sierra.
El Coyote era un bandido, nacido allá por mi tierra.
Lo conocí desde niño. Fuimos juntos a la escuela.

I drew a cross over the Coyote, and I left for the sierra.
The Coyote was a bandit, born near my hometown.
I knew him since we were kids. We went to school together.

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“No Pidas Perdón” by Mala Rodríguez, English translation of lyrics

“Don’t Ask Forgiveness”
AlbumDirty Bailarina (Dirty Ballerina), 2010
Style: Hip hop, with a spoken word vibe
Country: Spain
Listen: YouTube

About:

I was listening to an NPR short about Mala Rodriguez and they mentioned that she calls herself “Mala” (Bad) Rodriguez because her aunt would always scold her and call her a bad kid. That’s so sad, a little cute maybe, and also a great story. Mala Rodriguez has been gaining acclaim these past few years for her distinctive rap/hip hop style and her poetic lyrics. She collaborated with Julieta Venegas on the MTV Unplugged version of Julieta’s “Eres Para Mi.”

Two lines in this song’s transcription are a little iffy, so check back for edits in a few months. The song has been on my list since the NPR short in 2011, so it makes more sense to just post it as is and wait for comments. It’s a great song. Listen to it at YouTube here.

Translation:

Sa’ [sabe]
Lo peor ya ha pasa’o [pasado].
Dime, ¿de qué sirve seguir doblega’o [doblegado].

You know
The worst has already passed.
Tell me, what use is it to keep bowing down (in defeat)?

Vamos a buscar algo de retención,
Salvemos almas de la extinción.
Entre el polvo y la arena en estado latente
Como un sueño recurrente,
Mala semilla, bella durmiente.

Let us go search for a kind of permanence,
Let us save souls from extinction.
Between dust and sand in a latent state
Like a recurring dream,
Bad seed, sleeping beauty.

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