June 1, 2011

Cielito Lindo

'Cielito Lindo' is a song that's reached iconic status in Mexico. Any international football fan will have heard it. It's the song that Mexicans erupt in unison singing, to cheer on their national team in the World Cup.

Here they are against Portugal; and against Iran; and against France (at 1.26); and against Germany; and against Costa Rica; and against Chile. We could go on and on. Mexican football crowds sing it, in support of the national team, against any challengers.

It's also become a favorite to welcome international musical artists on the stages of Mexico. Yesterday, we told how it was sung to Lady Gaga. She was by no means the first. Here it is featuring in a U2 concert, in 2009.

It has been sung to everyone from Faith No More to Divididos. But the list of those it has been recorded by is even more impressive.

Just about every major Mexican singer has done a version at some time (even if it's just an informal rendering at a concert). But it's spread much wider than that. Pedro Infante, Bing Crosby, Placido Domingo, Jose Carrera, Luciano Pavarotti, Alma Cogan, Ella Fitzgerald, Luis Miguel, Enrique Iglesias, Alejandro Fernández and thousands others have thrilled Mexican fans with 'Cielito Lindo'.

It is a tune very close to the Mexican heart. Recently, Manchester United fans were looking for a chant to sing to their star Mexican footballer, Javier Hernández. One British Mancunian came up with a variation of 'Cielito Lindo', which namechecked both Hernández and his club. "Watch out," a Mexican fan commented, "you might make him cry." (Javier Hernandez Chant?)

So what is this song? 'Cielito Lindo' was penned in 1882 by Quirino Mendoza y Cortés. It was popularized, as most famous traditional Mexican songs were, by Pedro Infante singing it in a film.

This was 'Los Tres García' (1947), in which three charros (cowboys) fall in love with an American girl named Lupita. Their grandmother is not impressed and tries to thwart them at every turn. But romance wins the day for Infante's character, Luis Antonio García, and the lovely Lupita. It was a massive box office hit and, when Infante sang his love-song to Lupita, the hearts of thousands of cinema-goers melted. 'Cielito Lindo' was now sealed in the Mexican consciousness forever.

Of course, it's only the older generation who recall Lupita now. For everyone else, it is a love song to be sung at footballers and Lady Gaga. Beyond that, it's the preserve of bar sing-a-longs and Mariachi bands.

Ever wished that you could sing along? Or, at least, know what the Mexcians are singing? Here is your big moment. Give it a go. Mexico will love you.

Cielito Lindo

De la Sierra Morena,
Cielito lindo, vienen bajando,
Un par de ojitos negros,
Cielito lindo, de contrabando.

Ay, ay, ay, ay,
Canta y no llores,
Porque cantando se alegran,
Cielito lindo, los corazones.

Pájaro que abandona,
Cielito lindo, su primer nido,
Si lo encuentra ocupado,
Cielito lindo, bien merecido.


Ese lunar que tienes,
Cielito lindo, junto a la boca,
No se lo des a nadie,
Cielito lindo, que a mí me toca.


Si tu boquita morena,
Fuera de azúcar, fuera de azúcar,
Yo me lo pasaría,
Cielito lindo, chupa que chupa.


De tu casa a la mía,
Cielito lindo, no hay más que un paso,
Antes que venga tu madre,
Cielito lindo, dame un abrazo.


Una flecha en el aire,
Cielito lindo, lanzó Cupido,
y como fue jugando,
Cielito lindo, yo fui el herido.

Through dark tresses, heavenly one,
a pair of deep brown eyes,
lower as they approach,
a stolen glance.

Ay, ay, ay, ay,
sing and don't cry,
heavenly one, for singing
gladdens hearts.

A bird that abandons
his first nest, heavenly one,
then finds it occupied by another,
deserves to lose it.


That beauty mark you have
next to your mouth, heavenly one,
don't share with anyone but me
who appreciates it.


If your little mouth, my dark girl,
were made of sugar,
I would spend my time
enjoying its sweetness.


From your house to mine
there is no more than a step.
Before your mother comes,
heavenly one, give me a hug.


Cupid shot off an arrow,
heavenly one,
And though he was playing,
I was wounded.


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