Las Golondrinas, the song Mexicans sing to say goodbye

In response to my wondering about whether Mariachi play at funerals a Mexican friend confirms that they do and tells me that THE funeral song is Las Golondrinas (The Swallows). It’s the song by which Mexicans say goodbye.

Wikipedia tells me that the song was written in 1862 by a Mexican doctor, Narciso Serradell Sevilla, while exiled in France. It has become the song of exiled Mexicans longing for their homeland–just like the migrating swallow. I’ve found an English translation, which is below.

Many people, including Nat King Cole and Placido Domingo, have covered the song, and the Nat King Cole version, which has full Mariachi backing, is wonderfully evocative–and high on the list for my funeral.

I’ve discovered too that the tune has been used for She Wears My Ring, which has been recorded by Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. This is a love song that includes the words “She wears my ring to show the world she’s mine eternally.” (The full lyrics are below.) How interesting that English speakers should create a love song from a Mexican song of exile and loss.

I’ll need some jazz at my funeral (as well as Bach and Schubert, it’s going to be long), and I’ve always loved the image of the New Orleans bands that play slow, mournful music on the way to the graveyard and fast, joyful music on the way home.

What, I wonder, is the Mariachi song to follow Las Golondrinas?

The Swallow (Las Golindras)

 

Where can it go

rushed and fatigued

the swallow

passing by

tossed by the wind

looking so lost

with nowhere to hide.

 

By my bed

I’ll put your nest

until the season passes.

I too, O heaven!

am lost in this place

unable to fly.

 

Leave, too

my beloved homeland,

that home

that saw my birth.

My life today

is wandering, anguished.

I cannot

return home.

 

Dearest bird

beloved pilgrim,

my heart

nigh to yours;

remember

tender swallow,

remember

my homeland and cry.

 

 

She Wears My Ring

 

She wears my ring to show the world that she belongs to me

She wears my ring to show the world she’s mine eternally

With loving care I placed it on her finger

To show my love for all the world to see

 

This tiny ring is a token of tender emotion

An endless pool of love that’s as deep as the ocean

She swears to wear it with eternal devotion

That’s why I sing, because she wears my ring

 

She swears to wear it with eternal devotion

That’s why I sing, because she wears my ring

 

This tiny ring is a token of tender emotion

An endless pool of love that’s as deep as the ocean

She swears to wear it with eternal devotion

That’s why I sing, because she wears my ring

That’s why I sing, because she wears my ring

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