Day 15: Lola Beltrán – Cucurrucucú Paloma

Long before hack singers were carried to award ceremonies in gigantic plastic eggs, there was the Ranchera singing tradition – usually accompanied by some of the greatest divas of the golden age of Mexican music. With the advent of radio and television in Mexico, people in urban settings were now able to recapture the sounds of their rural towns they had once left. Ranchera, coming from the word rancho (country), was usually joined with a mariachi ensemble and a female singer. Complex melodies/rhythms, plus lyrics about loss and betrayal were to characterize the Ranchera sound – a stlye which would only catapult singers like Lola Beltrán into super stardom and forever into the psyche of the Mexican consciousness.

Nicknamed Lola la Grande (Lola the Great) – Beltrán had similar humble roots as did most of her fans. Hailing from the small town of Rosario, in the state of Sinaloa – Lola ended up working in a radio station in Mexico City as a secretary. From there her list of accomplishments went from being a film actress, marrying a matador, being a telanovela star, to hosting a talk show. However it was always her singing that made her probably the most successful Ranchera stars of all time.

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I am not a huge fan of Rancheras and Mariachi – but Cucurrucucú Paloma (cooing dove) happens to be one of my favorites of this genre. I put below the English translation of the song below to show how melodramatic, yet how very poetic this music can be. Enjoy!

1. Lola Beltrán: Cucurrucucú Paloma

They say that every night
he was wholly overtaken by tears;
They say he never ate, but only drank.

They swear that even the heavens
trembled to hear his wail,
he suffered for her so,
that even in death, he never stopped calling for her:

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he sang,
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he howled,
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he sang,
tormented by a fatal passion.

They say that in early morning
a sad dove sings to the little empty house
with its wide open little doors. They swear that the dove
is none other than his spirit, hoping still for the return
of the ill-fated woman

Coo…coo… Dove,
Coo…coo… don’t weep.

What do the stones know about love?

Coo…coo…coo…coo…

Little dove, do not weep anymore.

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