Lets stay with Caterina Valente, who has already featured several times on this blog singing in Spanish, but switching to German, the language with which she arguably found her greatest success.

In 1954 she recorded a German version of Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris”. The B-Side was this song which continued the Paris theme, and the single sold 900,000 copies.

Translation by CoopySnoopy at Lyrics Translate, but I have made some of the changes that were suggested.


Dreh dich nicht um 
Nach fremden Schatten
Dreh dich nicht um 
und bleib nicht steh’n
Lass die fremden Schatten 
stumm vorübergeh’n
Dreh dich nicht um 
nach fremden Schritten
Dreh dich nicht um 
nach ihrem Klang
Spürst du auch im Geheimen 
den dunklen Drang
Folg nicht dem fremden Schicksal 
auf seinem Gang
Geh deinen Weg, 
den man dir wies
Wenn es Nacht wird, 
Wenn es Nacht wird in Paris
Wenn es Nacht wird, 
Wenn es Nacht wird in Paris

Don't turn your head
For a stranger's shadow
Don't turn your head
And don't stop
Let the stranger's shadow 
Pass silently
Don't turn your head
For a stranger's footsteps
Don't turn your head
to their sound
Even if you secretly feel 
the dark compulsion,
Don't follow the other fate 
as it went
Go your own way,
The way you had,
When night falls, 
When night falls in Paris,
When night falls, 
When night falls in Paris


Caetano Veloso is one of the great Brazilian singer-songwriters. Though he sings mainly in Portuguese, he also records frequently in English and Spanish. In fact, some of his most commercially successful recordings are those in Spanish, which are typically cover versions.

This is a Mexican song which was popularised by Pedro Infante in the mid-fifties when he sang it in the movie ‘Escuela De Vagabundos’ in Mariachi style (see below). Veloso sang this beautiful version in Pedro Almodovar’s film ‘Hable Con Ella’ (‘Talk to Her’) in 2002.


Dicen que por las noches
No más se le iba en puro llorar
Dicen que no comia
No mas se le iba en puro tomar
Juran que el mismo cielo
Se extremecia al oir su llanto
Como sufria por ella
Que hasta en su muerte 
La fue llamando

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, cantaba
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, gemia
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, cantaba
De pasión mortal moria

Que una paloma triste
Muy de mañana 
Le va a cantar
A la casita sola
Con las puertitas de par en par
Juran que esa paloma
No es otra cosa mas que su alma
Que todavia la espera
A que regrese la desdichada

Cucurrucucú, paloma
Cucurrucucú, no llores
Las piedras jamás, paloma
¿Que van a saber de amores?

They say that at night
He did nothing but cry
They say he didn't eat
He did nothing but drink
They swear that the heavens themselves
Trembled on hearing his weeping
How he suffered for her
That even in death
He went on calling for her

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he sang
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he groaned
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he sang
He died from a deadly passion

That a sad dove
Very early in the morning 
Is going to sing to him 
In the lonely little house
With its little doors open wide
They swear that that dove
Is actually his soul
That is still waiting
For the ill fated (woman) to return

Coo coo ru coo coo, paloma (dove)
Coo coo roo coo coo, don't cry,
The stones never, paloma (dove)
What will they ever know of love?



Laïs are a femal vocal trio who have recorded some stunning a cappella material. They are Flemish but they occasionally sing in French. This track is from their debut album, released in 1998.

‘Grand Jacques’ is a cover of a Jacques Brel song that originally appeared on his first album in 1954. The title is a reference to his childhood nickname (he was the tallest in his class at school).


C'est trop facile d'entrer aux églises
De déverser toute sa saleté
Face au curé qui dans la lumière grise
Ferme les yeux pour mieux nous pardonner

Tais-toi donc, grand Jacques
Que connais-tu du Bon Dieu ?
Un cantique, une image
Tu n'en connais rien de mieux

C'est trop facile quand les guerres sont finies
D'aller gueuler que c'était la dernière
Ami bourgeois vous me faites envie
Vous ne voyez donc point vos cimetières

Tais-toi donc grand Jacques
Laisse-les donc crier
Laisse-les pleurer de joie
Toi qui ne fus même pas soldat

C'est trop facile quand un amour se meurt
Qu'il craque en deux parce qu'on l'a trop plié
D'aller pleurer comme les hommes pleurent
Comme si l'amour durait l'éternité

Tais-toi donc grand Jacques
Que connais-tu de l'amour ?
Des yeux bleus, des cheveux fous
Tu n'en connais rien du tout

Et dis-toi donc grand Jacques
Dis-le-toi bien souvent
C'est trop facile,
C'est trop facile,
De faire semblant.

It's too easy to enter churches
To pour out all of our filth,
Facing the priest who, in the dim light,
Closes his eyes to pardon us better

So keep quiet, big Jacques,
What do you know of the Good Lord?
A hymn, a picture
You know nothing better.

It's too easy when wars are over
To go around shouting that it was the last.
My middle class friends, I envy you
You never see your cemetries at all

So keep quiet, big Jacques,
Let them cry out,
Let them weep with joy,
You who were never a soldier yourself.

It's too easy, when a love affair dies,
That cracks in two because we've bent it too far,
To go about weeping like all men weep,
As if love lasted for eternity

So keep quiet, big Jacques,
What do you know about love?
Some blue eyes, some crazy hair
You know nothing about it at all

And so tell yourself, big Jacques,
Tell yourself quite often:
It's too easy,
It's too easy,
To pretend.



Juliette Gréco is one of the key singers of French chanson. She was the muse to many in the bohemian scene which emerged after the war. She also championed new songwriters including Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens.

Gréco recorded this haunting song in 1953. It is a poem by François Mauriac set to music by Luc Poret.


Aux jours où la chaleur arrêtait toute vie
Quand le soleil, sur les labours exténués
Pressait contre son coeur le vignoble muet
A l’heure où des faucheurs l’armée anéantie
Écrasait l’herbe sous des corps crucifiés

Seul debout, en ces jours de feu et de poussière
En face du sommeil, accablé de la terre
Assourdi par le cri des cigales sans nombre

Je cherchais votre coeur
Comme je cherchais l’ombre

On days when the heat has stopped all life
When the sun, exhausted from her labours
Pressed the silent vineyard against her heart
At the time when the reapers annihilated army
Crushed the grass beneath the crucified body

Standing alone, in those days of fire and dust
Opposite sleep, weighed down by the earth
Deafened by the cries of countless cicadas

I searched for your heart 
As I searched for the shade


In Search of Rock and Roll Thrills in Mexico: Part 14

Finally it is time to end this much interrupted series about Mexico. It you want to see all the entries click on the tab ‘History of Rock in Mexico’.

Yes, I know this isn’t a rock song, but I can’t resist finishing with another Mariachi track. Written by Lorenzo Barcelata, this is one of the most famous songs to come out of Mexico. Another version was included on the discs sent out into space aboard the Voyager spacecraft.
A cascabel is a kind of little bell, a bit like a jingle bell, but this doesn’t seem to be a Christmas song. It is also a species of rattlesnake, so maybe you can imitate the sound of a rattlesnake with the bell. There is also another interpretation of what this song means, but I’ll leave that to your imagination…


Yo tenía mi cascabel 
con una cinta morada
Y como era de oropel
se lo di a mi prenda amada
Pa' que jugara con él 
allá por la madrugada

Anoche por la ventana 
platicando con Leonor
Me pidió que le cantara
el cascabel por menor
y que no me dilatara 
me lo pedia de favor
Ay, como rezumba y suena
rezumba y va rezumbando
mi cascabel en la arena

I had my little bell 
with a purple ribbon
And since it glittered
I gave it to my beloved darling
So she should could play with it
some time in the early morning

Last night by the window 
talking to Eleanor 
She asked me to sing to her
the little bell in a minor key
and that I did not delay
she asked me as a favour
Oh, how it buzzes and rings
It rings and resonates
My little bell in the sand



An extraordinary songwriter, Georges Brassens remains less well known than Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg outside France. ‘La Fossoyeur’ is typical of his output in the way it combines a catchy upbeat melody with dark irreverent lyrics. It comes from ‘La Mauvaise Réputation’, his first album released in 1952. After struggling for years to break into the cabaret circuit, his career finally took off at this point.

More info (in English): http://www.rfimusic.com/artist/chanson/georges-brassens/biography


Dieu sait que je n'ai pas le fond méchant
Je ne souhaite jamais la mort des gens
Mais si l'on ne mourait plus
Je crèverais de faim sur mon talus
Je suis un pauvre fossoyeur

Les vivants croient que je n'ai pas de remords
A gagner mon pain sur le dos des morts
Mais ça me tracasse et d'ailleurs
Je les enterre à contrecoeur
Je suis un pauvre fossoyeur

Et plus je lâchera bride à mon émoi
Et plus les copains s'amusent de moi
Y me disent: "Mon vieux par moments
T'as une figure d'enterrement"
Je suis un pauvre fossoyeur

J'ai beau me dire que rien n'est éternel
Je peux pas trouver ça tout naturel
Et jamais je ne parviens
A prendre la mort comme elle vient
Je suis un pauvre fossoyeur

Ni vu ni connu, brave morte adieu
Si du fond de la terre on voit le Bon Dieu
Dis-lui le mal que m'a coûté
La dernière pelletée
Je suis un pauvre fossoyeur

God knows I don't have a bad background
I've never wished people dead
But if people never died
I would die of hunger on my mound
I am a poor gravedigger

The living believe that I have no remorse
Earning my bread on the backs of the dead
But it bothers me and besides
I bury them reluctantly
I am a poor gravedigger

What's more I let go of my emotions
And my friends make fun of me
And they tell me: "Old man, at moments
You have a funeral expression on your face"
I am a poor gravedigger

I tell myself that nothing is eternal,
I can't find it completely natural
And I never succeed
In taking death as she comes
I am a poor gravedigger

Neither seen nor known, brave dead farewell
If at the bottom of the earth you see the good Lord
Tell him how much trouble it cost me
The last shovelful
I am a poor gravedigger

Guitar Chords:

A – C#m – A – D / E7

A – F#m – B7 – E7

A – A7 – D – C#7

F#m / C#m – D / E7 – A


In Search of Rock and Roll Thrills in Mexico: Part 9

While in Mexico it would perverse to not include a mariachi track on this blog. This is a classic of the genre performed by one of the best known ensembles. It was included recently in a great mariachi mix by the group Calexico which was played on 6music.

NB La Negra literally translates as ‘The Black Woman’ but in the context of the song (about a beautiful Mexican woman who was unusually dark skinned) I think ‘Dark Lady’ sounds better.

The silk shawl in the song is a gift that a man gives to a woman when he wants to marry her.


Negrita de mis pesares,
ojos de papel volando.
Negrita de mis pesares,
ojos de papel volando.
A todos diles que sí
pero no les digas cuándo.
Así me dijiste a mí
por eso vivo penando.

¿Cuándo me traes a mi negra?
Que la quiero ver aquí
con su rebozo de seda
que le traje de Tepic.

Dark little lady of my sorrows
Eyes fluttering like paper in the wind 
Dark little lady of my sorrows
Eyes fluttering like paper in the wind
Tell everyone yes
But don't tell them when
That's what you told me
That's why I live in suffering

When will you bring me my dark lady?
I want to see her here
With her silk shawl
That I brought her from Tepic (Western Mexico)


In Search of Rock and Roll Thrills in Mexico: Part 3

Formed in 1957, Los Locos Del Ritmo were another important group in the early days of Mexican rock. Recorded around 1959, their first album ‘Rock!’ wasn’t released until 1960. It’s an eclectic mix or covers and originals which includes an instrumental rock version of ‘La Cucaracha’. Here is one of their spirited (though undeniably derivative) originals.


Yo no soy un rebelde sin causa, 
ni tampoco un desenfrenado, 
yo lo único que quiero es bailar rock & roll, 
y que me dejen vacilar 
sin ton ni son

Vengan los locos 
y formemos en la Fran una sesión
Traigan chamacas que sean de ambiente
y que nos den un buen jalón, 
y con discos de rebeldes 
habrá un gran vacilón

Que se suelten las melenas, 
vengan abajo los copetes, 
Ay, que se quiten las corbatas, 
que se pongan las chamarras, 
las guitarras en las rodillas sin parar 

Que navajas italianas, 
pantalones que sean vaqueros, 
que nos tiemblen nuestras piernas sin cesar, 

Yo no soy un rebelde sin causa, 
ni tampoco un desenfrenado, 
yo lo único que quiero es bailar rock & roll, 
y que me dejen vacilar 
sin ton ni son

I'm not a rebel without a cause
I'm not a wild one either
I just want to dance rock & roll
I want them to let me have a good time
Without rhyme or reason

Come all you crazy people 
And we will get together in La Fran (club)
You will bring girls who fit in with the scene
And they will cheer us on
And with our rebellious jukebox
We'll have a great time

Let them let their long hair down
Let those quiffs hang out (?)
They will take off their ties
They will put on their leather jackets
Guitars hanging right down to their knees

With flick knives 
They'll be wearing jeans
They'll make us shake our legs and never stop

I'm not a rebel without a cause
I'm not a wild one either
I just want to dance rock & roll
I want them to let me have a good time
Without rhyme or reason


In Search of Rock and Roll Thrills in Mexico: Part 2

Los Teen Tops, who formed in the late 1950s in Mexico, were one of the first groups to sing rock and roll in Spanish. Their debut LP, released in 1960, contains versions of songs originally by the likes of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, all sung in their own language.
However, the most interesting track is the single ‘La Plaga’. The music is clearly taken from Little Richard’s ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’, but rather than translating the lyrics the group came up with new Spanish words unrelated to the original. The title (which I’ve translated as ‘The Pest’) is the nickname given to the girl in the song.



Ahí viene la plaga
Le gusta bailar 
Ahí viene la plaga
Le gusta bailar 
Y cuando está rock & roleando
Es la reina del lugar 

Mis jefes me dijeron 
ya no bailes rock & roll 
Si te vemos con la plaga 
tu domingo se acabo 


Vamos con el cura
pues ya me quiero casar 
No es que seas muy bonita
pero sabes bailar 


Here comes the pest
She sure likes to dance
Here comes the pest
She sure likes to dance
And when she's rock and rolling 
She's the queen of the place 

My bosses they told me
Stop dancing rock & roll 
If we see you with the pest 
Your Sunday is over 


Let's go and see a priest
I want to get married now
It's not that you're so pretty 
But you sure know how to dance 



In Search of Rock and Roll Thrills in Mexico: Part 1

After a hugely enjoyable (and rather longer than planned) excursion in Argentina, we are heading off to Mexico. In particular I will be looking for some early rock and roll thrills. In both Spain and Argentina rock didn’t really take off until after the Beatles, by which time the music was already becoming more melodic and sophisticated. Mexico’s proximity to the USA helped rock and roll to get started much earlier, when the music was rawer and arguably more exciting. And let’s not forget that Richie Valens’ ‘La Bamba’ (1958) was basically a turbo charged Mexican folk song.
So who was the first person to record a rock song in Spanish? The earliest example I can find is Gloria Ríos singing her reworking of ‘Rock Around The Clock’. Gloria was born in Texas, but she moved to Mexico when she was 16. There she enjoyed success as a singer, dancer and actress. ‘El Relojito’ literally translates as ‘the little clock’.
Gloria can be seen here singing it in the Mexican film ‘La Locura Del Rock and Roll’ from 1956. It’s a great performance, and she certainly has nicer legs than Bill Haley (who recorded the original). She was sometimes billed as ‘la bailarina de las piernas’!
Fans of kitsch should also check out Gloria’s low budget sci-fi video for ‘El Sputnik’ (see below). It’s taken from ‘Melodías Inolvidables’ (1959) which was her final film.

NB The lyrics of ‘El Relojito’ have little in common with ‘Rock Around The Clock’. I had to work them out by ear, so let me know if you have any corrections.


Vengan a bailar rock and roll
Se lo voy a enseñar
Pongan la atención

Se rumbiarán así
Meterán así
Entrando ya en calor
No pararan
Quiero cantar, quiero bailar 
El rock and roll, no más

Al sonar las dos
cuatro y seis
de Condesa o Cadiz
Pedimos más
Yo quiero rock, rock, rock
Y ver cantar 
Yo quiero roll, roll, roll
Quiero más, más, más
Quiero cantar, quiero bailar 
El rock and roll, no más

A du-da-bi, a du-da-bi.... ah-ah

Baila conmigo, el relojito
Baila conmigo, muy despacito
Mueve (o vuelve?) al ladito
Date un saltito
Dar media vuelta
Y un meneíto
Si te emocionas
Pegas un grito
Bom, bom, bom, bom...

Come and dance rock and roll
I'm going to teach it to you
Pay attention everybody

You rumba like this
You do it like this
Now you're warmed up
Don't stop
I want to sing, I want to dance
Only rock and roll

When the clock strikes two
Four and six
At Condesa or Cadiz (streets)
We demand more
I want to rock, rock, rock
And sing
I want to roll, roll, roll
I want more, more, more
I want to sing, I want to dance
Only rock and roll

A du-da-bi, a du-da-bi.... ah-ah

Dance with me, around the clock
Dance with me, really slow
Move to the side
Do a little jump
Do a half turn
And wiggle your hips
If you get excited
Let out a yell
Bom, bom, bom, bom...