Friday, January 4, 2013

La Bamba Lyric Review

Not Richie Valens
From the movie La Bamba

It's Friday night which means - it's lyric review time!  Arriba, Arriba!

By JccKeith

La Bamba is not an original song by Richie Valens.  Valens put out a version of this Mexican folk song in 1958.  The song itself is from Veracruz and combines Spanish, indigenous and African music styles. For those wondering, folk music is not always music that tells a story or transmits some message.  Folk simply means it is a traditional song or an old song or one that has been passed down through generations.

The Bamba is a dance and the song is merely about the dance, kind of like The Locomotion or Macarena or the Twist.  La Bamba remains a traditional song in Veracruz where it is customary to play at weddings.  The bride and groom then do the dance as the song plays. 

One more note about this song is it is the only song in the Rolling Stone’s top 500 songs that is not sung in English.  Quite the accomplishment to be such a widely loved song and be accepted as is with no translation necessary.

Richie Valens
No translation necessary until now.  For those who want to be in the know, I have the song lyrics in English.  Trust me when I say it sounds much better in its native tongue.  It is not quite the masterpiece when sung in English.  Part of the beauty of this song is its flowing and catchy language usage, when sung in Spanish that is.

So without further ado, here are the lyrics in Spanish and English, courtesy of the site lyricsmode.com and google translate:

Para bailar La Bamba     [To dance the Bamba]

Para bailar La Bamba     [To dance the Bamba]

Se necessita una poca de gracia     [You need a little bit of grace]

Una poca de gracia     [A little bit of grace]

Para mi, para ti, ay arriba, ay arriba   [For me, for you, ah up, ah up]

Ay, arriba arriba [ah, up, up - arriba also means up to and, or literally, faster, faster]

Por ti sere, por ti sere, por ti sere, por ti sere [google translates this as is as 'By you I will be, by you I will be, by you I will be' but it is probably more like, 'I will be by you, I will be by you, I will be by you]


Yo no soy marinero     [I am not a sailor]

Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan     [I am not a sailor, I am captain - to me, I'd say he is saying, he is not a follower, he's the leader.  He is leading this dance, directing everyone]

Soy capitan, soy capitan     [I am captain, I am captain]

Bamba, bamba     [Bamba is the name of the dance, there is no actual English translation]

Bamba, bamba

Bamba, bamba, bam


Para bailar La Bamba   [To dance the Bamba]

Para bailar La Bamba    [To dance the Bamba]

Se necessita una poca de gracia   [You need a little bit of grace]

Una poca de gracia     [You need a little bit of grace]

Para mi, para ti, ay arriba, ay arriba [For me, for you, up, up]

Ay, arriba arriba [faster, faster]

Por ti sere, por ti sere, por ti sere  [I will be by you, I will be by you, I will be by you]


Bamba, bamba

Bamba, bamba

Bamba, bamba


So now you know and knowing is half the battle.  The other half of that fight might be forgetting that you know the English translation and learning to sing it properly in Spanish.  Have fun.

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