"Paloma Blanca" (Spanish for "white dove"), often called "Una Paloma Blanca", is a song written by the Dutch musician George Baker, and first recorded and released by his band The George Baker Selection. The single was a hit throughout Europe, and was taken from the group's fifth album of the same name.
|Single by George Baker Selection|
|from the album Paloma Blanca|
|George Baker Selection singles chronology|
The song became a #1 hit on the U.S. Billboard Easy Listening Singles chart on 14 February 1976 (becoming that chart's overall #1 song for 1976) and peaked at #26 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, as well as peaking at #33 on the U.S. Hot Country Singles chart and #10 on the UK Singles Chart.
Baker has been quoted as saying the song is about "a poor South American farmer who works hard all day and then sits by a tree and dreams of being a white bird with its freedom."
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The George Baker Selection version of "Paloma Blanca" was widely covered upon its 1975 release. In the UK, where the group took "Paloma Blanca" to a #10 chart peak, the recording by Jonathan King achieved a #5 chart peak. King's version was also a hit in Ireland, although its #15 Irish chart peak was topped by a cover from the Dixies (with Rory O'Connor), who took "Una Paloma Blanca" to #11 on the Irish chart.
Only a few months after George Baker's original, Serbian singer Boris Bizetić did a cover of the song in Serbian.
In South Africa, an Afrikaans rendering of "Paloma Blanca" entitled "My klein wit duifie" was a hit for a studio group credited as Tameletjie, its chart peak being #9.
In Scandinavia, translated renderings of "Paloma Blanca" were hits in for Siw Malmkvist (#8 in Sweden) and Hans Petter Hansen (no) (#7 in Norway) with an alternate Swedish rendering being recorded by Säwes (sv). A Danish version was recorded by Bjørn Tidmand.
In Finland, a localized translation of "Paloma Blanca" was #2 hit for Katri Helena besting a rival version by Kisu (fi) at #18. Finland is also the only evident territory outside the British Isles to afford chart hit status to the Jonathan King version "Una Paloma Blanca" which peaked at #27 in Finland. The Finnish-language rendering of "Paloma Blanca" has also been recorded by Aaron (fi), Jukka Kuoppamäki, and Matti ja Teppo.
The song was covered in Belgium by De Strangers as 'Oh Mijnen Blauwe Geschelpte', changing the bird's colour from white to blue. The tone of the song changed as well, making it a mockery of pigeon racing.
Covers of "Paloma Blanca" were also recorded by Slavko Perović (Serbian) and, in 1976, by Věra Špinarová (cs) (Czech as "Být Sluncem Na Tvých Víčkách" featuring Zdeněk Mann) and by Korda György (hu) (Hungarian as "Fehér Galamb").
A Chinese (Mandarin) version of the song is called Bai Lan Ge, 白蘭鴿, with similar lyrics about a free dove.
The song is often parodied, given its popularity and middle-of-the-road quality. In 1976, the British Scrumpy and Western group The Wurzels had a #3 UK hit with their parody of the song, "I Am a Cider Drinker", which was covered in 2011 by Scottish pirate metal band Alestorm as a bonus track for their album Back Through Time. In the United States, Eddie Murphy, as the character Buckwheat in a Saturday Night Live television commercial parody, sang a mangled version parodying the Slim Whitman version entitled "Una Panoonah Banka". In May 1985, KNOB had a contest based on who could best replicate the yodel in Whitman's version, calling the contest a "Slim-off". In 1993, the Croatian group Vatrogasci (Firefighters) made a parody named Pekara (bakery in Croatian) in a turbofolk arrangement.
George Baker rerecorded a solo version of the song in 2005, for the film Too Fat Too Furious; the song had earlier been used in the 1982 film, The Executioner's Song. In 2011, it was given a rap make-over on the song-exchange-programme Ali B op volle toeren; George Baker returned the favour by performing a rewritten version of rapper Dio's "Tijdmachine".
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