Tomcats (The or Los, take your pick) were a British group who relocated to Spain in 1965 and enjoyed more success there than in England. Mostly they recorded cover versions in English of groups like the Rolling Stones, but they also released one EP in Spanish in 1966.
‘A Tu Vera’ is a cover of a song that the legendary Spanish singer Lola Flores recorded in the early sixties. The Tomcats version is a kind of mash-up of the original with the Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’. The result is pretty extraordinary, combining shaky Spanish pronunciation with wild energy.
The group then returned to England and went psychedelic, changing their name to July in the process.
A TU VERA ESTRIBILLO: A tu vera siempre a la verita tuya, hasta que por ti me muera. Que no mirase tus ojos, que no llamase a tu puerta, que no pisase de noche, las piedras de tu calleja. Que no mirase tus ojos que no jurase en la reja (?) que no mirase contigo la luna de primavera ESTRIBILLO
BY YOUR SIDE CHORUS: By your side Always by your side Until I die for you I’ll try not to look into your eyes I’ll try not to knock at your door I’ll try not to go out at night and step on the stones in your alley I’ll try not to look into your eyes I’ll try not to promise myself to you I’ll try not to watch the spring moon with you CHORUS
GRAMMAR: THE IMPERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE
“Que no mirase tus ojos”
This is a case where Spanish uses the subjunctive, which is difficult to translate exactly into English.
The speaker is talking about the future, but really the emphasis is on the wishes of the speaker rather than reality. It looks a bit clearer when used with ‘Ojalá’, which translates roughly as ‘if only’ or ‘I wish’, and is typically used in this kind of construction:
“¡Ojalá que no mirase tus ojos!”
The song uses the imperfect subjunctive, but the present subjunctive could also be used:
“Que no mire tus ojos”
The meaning is almost the same, but the use of the imperfect indicates that the speaker thinks it is even less likely to happen than if he or she had used the present subjunctive.
There are a lot of verb conjugations to learn in Spanish, and to add insult to injury there are two different versions of the imperfect subjunctive (–se and –ra). Thus, we could also say:
“Que no mirara tus ojos”
Books often gloss over this, saying that the –ra form is more commonly used. Apparently the –se form is not used in Central and South America, but in Spain both forms are used, at least in my experience. The good thing about the –se form is that it avoids confusion with the future tense, in this case mirará. I’m sure the Tomcats understood this all perfectly! To sum up, a better translation might be:
“If only I was able to avoid looking into your eyes”
CHORDS / ACORDES
D – C – A – G – A
‘You Really Got Me’ style riff:
A and G – G and F
F and E – E and D
E – F – G – F – G – A