People who listen to music can be broadly placed into one of two buckets: a Lyrics Bucket and a Beat Bucket. I am very much a Lyric guy. I focus on the Lyrics. Mrs. Redanglespanish, on the other hand, is a Beat Bucket Girl. She’ll be listening to some mildly mysoginistic lyrics courtesy of Biggie, Snoop, or the occasional Tupac, bouncing along to the beat.
I ask if the lyrics bother her.
“No… I don’t listen to the words.”
That’s cool. As Tupac once said, “Only God can judge me.”
But Spanish is a language that uses words, so we are going to ask the Beat Bucketers to put on their listening caps. The following songs employ some Español that, along with a wicked Beat, can stick in your head.
VERTIGO by U2
“Uno, dos, tres, catorce!” These four Spanish numbers open U2‘s homage to inner ear dysfunctions.
Why “1, 2, 3, 14” ?
No idea. But this is an identical Spanish Twin – same in both idiomas.
VAMOS by THE PIXIES
“Vamos a jugar por la playa!” Sí – Let’s do go play by the beach! Or let’s just go somewhere…. I’ve got a 4-year-old boy in the house. And like most 4-year-old boys, he’s got the attention span of a border collie pup. I find myself frequently pleading with the child to go somewhere – Go to the bathroom, go sit down, go to sleep…. Substitute VAMOS! Let’s go!
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? by THE CLASH
The Clash’s only number one single oddly includes some Spanish. As legend has it, Joe Strummer made a last minute call prior to recording the track. He chose to sing his backing vocals in Spanish. A member of the Clash crew was Ecuadorian, so he called his mother and she translated the verse.
The rest, as they say, is history.
LA CIÉNEGA JUST SMILED by RYAN ADAMS
“…feels so good but damn it makes me hurt. I’m too scared to know how I feel about you now. La Ciénega just smiled… “See ya around.”
That is heavy. No wonder he’s married to Mandy Moore.
Supposedly this song manifested itself from a moment of intense introspection on La Ciénega Boulevard in LA. Whatever the case, una ciénega is a marsh or a bog.
BÉSAME MUCHO by THE BEATLES
Written in 1940 by Consuelo Velázquez, this song was covered by The Beatles and was included in the legendary documentary, Let It Be. Bésame (BAY-sah-may) means Kiss Me. I’ll assume you’re up to speed on the term, mucho.
QUÉ ONDA, GUERO by BECK
(kay OHN-dah WAY-roh)
Beck’s 2005 album, Guero, is loaded with whole grain Spanish goodness. Starting with the title (guero), which is Spanish for a blond-haired guy… which Beck happens to be. In the track, Qué onda, Guero, Beck demonstrates a very cool way to introduce yourself. Consider Qué onda the Mexican Spanish version of Whaddup?
LA BAMBA by RICHIE VALENS
“Yo no soy marinero, soy capitán….”
Classic line. It means “I’m not a sailor, I’m a captain….” La Bamba proves pop hits can transcend language barriers. Below is the rough translation.
To dance The Bamba, you need a little grace.
For me, for you, up, up…. For you I will (x3).
I’m not a sailor, I am the captain….
2nd verse, same as the 1st !
What are you favorite songs that include some Spanish Surprises (and sure… Shakira counts) ?
Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. He is a huge fan of The Pixies, The Beatles, and Ryan Adams… in that order.
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