February 15, 2011

Bésame Mucho

'Bésame Mucho' is the Mexican love song that took over the world. After being recorded by some of Mexico's greatest stars, including Pedro Infante and Jose Jose, it went global.

The song has been translated into 20 languages. Lucho Gatica serenaded with it, Chilean Bolero style. Elvis Presley recorded a version. Josephine Baker sang it, as a morale booster, for the troops in World War Two. Frank Sinatra crooned it. The Beatles used it in their audition tapes for Decca and EMI, as well as featuring it in the 'Let It Be' film. It has appeared on the original soundtrack of countless films. Yet how many know that it was written by a fifteen year old girl, who thought that kissing was a sin?

Consuelo Velázquez had been playing piano since she was four years old. Consuelo VelázquezEleven years later, she was a young teenager, installed at Mexico City's National Conservatory and the Palace of Fine Arts, dreaming of love.

'Bésame Mucho' literally translates as 'Kiss Me Much', but it's often rendered in English as 'Kiss Me A Lot' or 'Kiss Me Again'. Naturally, many people over the years have asked Consuelo who she was thinking about, as she sat at her piano and composed her classic tune. She claims that it was no-one in particular. Just her imagination and the longing for romance.

Consuelo was born, on August 29th, 1916, in Ciudad Guzmán, Jalisco. Her family, all strict Roman Catholics, moved to Guadalajara, while she was just a baby. She spent her formative years there, before moving to Mexico City to train as a concert pianist. At fifteen years old, with those hormones raging, she day-dreamed about finding love. But she had been raised as a good girl. No kissing, cuddling, flirting, romancing or any of that before marriage; and certainly nothing that would disgrace herself and her family.

She was both a virtuous girl and a virtuosa. Her dreams went no further than her fingers on the piano keys; and her mind soaring with creating the greatest Mexican love song of all time. Here she is, in adult life, playing it again:

Those lyrics are:

Bésame, bésame mucho,
Como si fuera esta noche la última vez.
Bésame, bésame mucho,
Que tengo miedo perderte,
Perderte otra vez.

Quiero tenerte muy
Cerca, mirarme en tus
Ojos, verte junto a mí,
Piensa que tal vez
Mañana yo ya estaré
Lejos, muy lejos de ti.

Bésame, bésame mucho,
Como si fuera esta noche la última vez.
Bésame mucho,
Que tengo miedo perderte,
Perderte después.
Kiss me, Kiss me a lot,
As if tonight were the last time.
Kiss me, kiss me a lot,
Because I'm afraid of losing you,
To lose you again.

I want to have you very close
To see myself in your eyes,
To see you next to me,
Think that perhaps tomorrow
I already will be far,
very far from you.

Kiss me, Kiss me a lot,
As if tonight were the last time.
Kiss me, a lot,
because I'm afraid of losing you,
To lose you later.

'Bésame Mucho' wasn't an immediate hit. After graduating from the National Conservatory and the Palace of Fine Arts, Consuelo took a job at a radio company, XEQ. She also continued to write songs, while performing concerts as a pianist. Then, in 1941, the song was picked up and recorded by Emilio Tuero and Chela Campos. It soon became popular with the big bands and, through them, was showcased to troops, stationed across the world, during the Second World War. By March 4th, 1944, it was at the top of the US Billboard Charts, where it stayed for 12 weeks.

Since then, its global success has been unstoppable. Throughout the decades, it has continued to resurface, often performed by the biggest names of the day. As late as 2007, a contestant on 'American Idol', Sanjaya Malakar, chose to sing it to woo the nation during 'Latin Nation'. Even Simon Cowell couldn't fault him.

A year later, Russia's celebrated baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and South Korea's coloratura soprano, Sumi Jo, included it in their set, at a star-studded gala in St Petersburg:

While the Italian 'X-Factor' saw contestant, Guisy Ferreri, perform it. She ultimately came second in the whole show:

'Bésame Mucho' has travelled the world, being translated into many different languages. As music styles change, this song changes with them. Each artist comes to it with a different spin and a new way of presenting it. Here is a unique version, the fusion between Danny Aiello and rap artist, Hasan:

Finally here is the chilled, groove remix of the tune, released by Worldwide Groove Corporation:

It might have originally been the song of a teenage Mexican girl, yearning for love, but now it's the sound of romance everywhere. Who knows what the future may bring!


  1. I think Sanjaya Malakar made a very good cover, I really liked it. The Italian one, I don't know....

    Placebo made one too (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-JpWHPUBco) though I don't like it much. Sounds like he's drunk....

  2. I didn't know that Placebo had covered it too. So many different people/groups have that it's hard to keep track of them all.

    *after listening* Oh dear, he did sound like he'd had a couple; but it's Brian Malko singing, so passes by default. I would love to hear him sing this properly.

  3. of trini lopez is as the waves caressing gently the shore of my soul...great piece

  4. http://www.sudanforum.net/showpost.php?p=1325424&postcount=1105


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