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"La Paloma", known in English as "No More", is a popular Spanish song that has been produced and reinterpreted in diverse cultures, settings, arrangements, and recordings over the last 140 years. The song was composed and written by the Spanish composer from the Basque region Sebastián Iradier (later Yradier) in the 1850s. In 1859, it was registered at the copyright office in Madrid as a "Cancion Americana con acompañamiento de Piano". Iradier was to die in obscurity within few years, never to learn how popular his song would become.
"La Paloma" belongs to a genre of songs called habaneras, a musical style developed in 19th-century Spain that is still today very much present in the form of folk songs and formal compositions, particularly in the Northern Basque region and east coast (Catalonia and Valencia) regions of the country. Like all Habaneras, its characteristic and distinct rhythm reflects the fusion of the local Cuban songs that the Spanish sailors of the time brought back with them from their travels to the island, with the rhythm structure of the flamenco tanguillo gaditano (original from Cádiz, Andalusia).
Very quickly, "La Paloma" became popular outside of Spain, particularly in Mexico, and soon spread around the world. In many places, including Afghanistan, Hawaii, the Philippines, Germany, Romania, Zanzibar, and Goa it gained the status of a quasi-folk song. Over the years, the popularity of "La Paloma" has surged and receded periodically, but never subsided. It may be considered one of the first universal popular hits and has appealed to artists of diverse musical backgrounds. There are more than one thousand versions of this song, and together with "Yesterday" by The Beatles, is one of the most-recorded songs in the history of music. It is certainly the most-recorded Spanish song.
The motif of "La Paloma" (the dove) can be traced back to an episode that occurred in 492 BC, before Darius' invasion of Greece, a time when the white dove had not yet been seen in Europe. The Persian fleet under Mardonius was caught in a storm off the shore of Mount Athos and wrecked, when the Greeks observed white doves escaping from the sinking Persian ships. This inspired the notion that such birds bring home a final message of love from a sailor who is lost at sea.
This theme that a final link of love overcomes death and separation is reflected in "La Paloma". While the lyrics may not always be true to the original, the soul of the song seems to survive all attempts to recast it in whatever new form and shape there may be and is able to express the tension between separation with loneliness, even death, and love.
The song became the favorite of Princess Charlotte of Belgium, Empress of Mexico, and the reason why the followers of president Juarez and the liberal party, made a parody. In the Portuguese novel O Crime do Padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro), written in 1871 by the Portuguese writer José Maria de Eça de Queirós, it is referred to as "[l]a Chiquita, an old Mexican song".
German and French versions appeared in the 1860s. In English, a version titled "No More" with lyrics by Don Robertson and Hal Blair was recorded by both Dean Martin and Elvis Presley. Harry James recorded a version in 1941 on Columbia 36146.
"La Paloma" has been interpreted by musicians of diverse backgrounds including opera, pop, jazz, rock, military bands, and folk music. Pop and country music singer Marty Robbins' version is the most popular rendition. The song entered the Guinness Book of World Records being sung by the largest choir, 88,600 people, in Hamburg on May 9, 2004.
"La Paloma" is played in these movies:
- "La Paloma" Screen Songs cartoon, 1930
- The Private Life of Don Juan, 1934
- La Paloma, Ein Lied der Kameradschaft, 1934 (also listed as La Paloma, 1938)
- Juarez, 1939
- Große Freiheit Nr. 7, 1944, Hans Albers singing a German version
- Stray Dog, 1949
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956
- La Paloma, Germany 1958,
- Freddy, die Gitarre und das Meer, 1959
- Freddy und der Millionär
- Adua e le compagne, 1960
- Blue Hawaii, 1961, Elvis Presley singing "No More". His recording was also featured on the soundtrack album and a re-recorded "live" version was featured in the American cut of Aloha from Hawaii. This 1973 version was originally released on the budget album Mahalo from Elvis but has since been included on various reissues of the live album.
- The Godfather Part II, 1974. The band are playing "La Paloma" in the opening scene of the New Year party in Havana.
- Bröderna Lejonhjärta, 1977. Karl's mom is heard singing the Swedish version of "La Paloma".
- The Tin Drum, 1979
- Das Boot, 1981
- Mortelle Randonnée, 1983. In the film, the Hans Albers version is heard.
- The House of the Spirits, 1993
- Sonnenallee, 1999
- A Moment to Remember, 2004
- Soul Kitchen, 2009
- Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story, 2011
- In the musical film, Down Argentine Way, Charlotte Greenwood sings an upbeat, fast song called "Sing To Your Senorita". The melody is loosely based on that of "La Paloma".
Cuando salí de la Habana
Nadie me ha visto salir
Si no fui yo.
Y una linda Guachinanga
Allá voy yo.
Que se vino tras de mí,
que sí, señor.
Si a tu ventana llega una paloma,
Trátala con cariño que es mi persona.
Cuéntale tus amores, bien de mi vida,
Corónala de flores que es cosa mía.
Ay, chinita que sí!
Ay, que dame tu amor!
Ay, que vente conmigo, chinita,
A donde vivo yo!
El día que nos casemos ¡Válgame Dios!
En la semana que hay ir Me hace reir
Desde la Iglesia juntitos, Que sí señor,
Nos iremos a dormir, Allá voy yo.
Cuando el curita nos eche La bendición
En la Iglesia Catedral, Allá voy yo
Yo te daré la manita Con mucho amor
Y el cura dos hisopazos Que sí señor
Cuando haya pasado tiempo ¡Válgame Dios!
De que estemos casaditos Pues sí señor,
Lo menos tendremos siete Y que furor!
O quince guachinanguitos Allá voy yo
- "American song with piano accompaniment" (James J. Fuld, The Book of World-famous Music. Classical, Popular, and Folk (Fifth edition revised and enlarged), New York, Dover Publications, 2000, p. 420, ISBN 0-486-41475-2).
- Gross, Thomas (5 July 2008). "Heimweh für alle". Die Zeit (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2019.
- Pankraz, Marcel Proust und das ewige Lied "La Paloma" (German)[dead link]
- La Paloma, das Seemannslied (the seafarer's song), European Sailing-Informationsystem (in German)]
- Video Event 2004[dead link]
- "At the 86th Street Casino" by H. T. S. (Harry T. Smith), review of movie La Paloma (1938), The New York Times, 21 October 1936
- Review (German) by cinefacts
- La Paloma (2008) on IMDb
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