"Cielito lindo" is a popular Mexican song from a Spanish copla, popularized in 1882 by Quirino Mendoza y Cortés (c. 1859–1957). It is roughly translated as "Lovely Sweet One". Although the word "cielo" means sky or heaven, it is also a term of endearment comparable to sweetheart or honey. "Cielito", the diminutive, can be translated as "sweetie"; "lindo" means cute, lovely or pretty. Sometimes the song is known by words from the refrain, "Canta y no llores" or simply the "Ay, Yai, Yai, Yai" song.
Commonly played by mariachi bands, it has been recorded by many artists in the original Spanish as well as in English and other languages. Even though the song talks about the "Sierra Morena", a mountain range in the south region of Spain, in recent decades it has come to be widely known as a theme song for Mexico, based in the Spanish background of the country, particularly at international events, like the FIFA World Cup.
The scheme corresponds to the Spain Castilian classical stanza known as "seguidilla," i.e. seven lines of alternating heptasyllabic and pentasyllabic verses. Lyrics vary widely from performer to performer and every singer is free to add some new verse to his or her own interpretation. Some of the most traditional lyrics are the following:
|Spanish||Literal English translation|
De la Sierra Morena,
Ay, yai, yai, yai,
Ese lunar que tienes,
Una flecha en el aire,
From the Sierra Morena,
Ay, yai, yai, yai,
That mole you have
An arrow in the air
In the article "¡Hasta que me cayó el veinte!" Ortega discusses the origins of the first verse of this song. His research discovered that in the early 17th century, armed bandits would take refuge in the Sierra Morena mountains of Spain and that people feared for their lives when they had to travel through the region. The words of the first verse of "Cielito Lindo" were found in a song from that era, hinting at that fear. But with time the meaning of the verse changed as people began romanticizing it. "Your face is the Sierra Morena. Your eyes are thieves who live there." The verse had other melodies put to it and variations on the lyrics. Mr. Quirino Mendoza, the composer, adapted the verse to his own melody and gave us the song we know today.
|This section requires expansion with: more version. (July 2011)|
The song has been subject to many versions:
- Alma Cogan's 1957 hit, You,Me and Us used the tune from Cielito Lindo, with English lyrics.
- Voodoo Glow Skulls, a ska punk band from California, do a cover on their album Exitos Al Cabron (1999).
- Pedro Infante sang it in the 1947 Mexican film Los tres García. He also had the lead role in the film
- In 1942, Brazilian singer Carmen Costa released a famous Brazilian Portuguese version of the song called "Está Chegando a Hora" (The time is coming).
- In 1963, Trini Lopez released a very famous Spanish version of the song, on his album Trini Lopez at PJ's
- In 1982, popular Puerto Rican boy band Menudo covered this song for performances in Mexico, only. It was finally released in 1983, but only on the album Adios Miguel.
- In 1990, Jose Feliciano's version wins a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Performance.
- Other Spanish versions include: Irma Vila y su Mariachi, Los Lobos, and Plácido Domingo alongside Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras. In 2006 it was recorded by Ana Gabriel.
- There are instrumental versions as well most notably by Mantovani
- Cuban Rumba band leader and actor, Desi Arnaz performed the song's refrain several times on the television show he co-starred in with his real-life wife, Lucille Ball - I Love Lucy.
- The song "Richard Allen George...No, It's Just Cheez" by Less Than Jake ends with a sing-along about mustaches, to the melody of "Cielito Lindo."
- Iranian singer Mohsen Namjoo included it in his third album Oy. His version features Golshifteh Farahani as co-singer. Within the song, he included some poems by Shamloo and Rumi.
- Limerick songs are often set to the tune of "Cielito Lindo."
- Deanna Durbin, a Canadian/American singer and actress from the 1930s and 1940s, also recorded a version of this song in Spanish.
- A 4/4 adaptation was used in the finale of Shostakovich's 6th Symphony
- An ad for Fritos featured the Frito Bandito character singing a version of the song with different lyrics.
Cielito lindo huasteco
"Cielito Lindo" should not be confused with another popular and traditional song called "Cielito lindo huasteco" also known as "Cielito lindo" from La Huasteca in Mexico. This song distinctly different from the common version above has been played by many Conjunto huastecos, as it is considered one of the most popular Son Huasteco or Huapango songs.
Sometimes mariachi bands perform both versions of the "Cielito Lindo" and "Cielito lindo huasteco" which are completely different, thus creating some confusion about both.
- "México Lindo y Querido", another traditional Mexican song