El Cóndor Pasa (song)

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"El Cóndor Pasa"
Song
Published 1913
Genre Andean folk tunes from Peru
Writer Daniel Alomía Robles
"El Condor Pasa (If I Could)"
Single by Simon & Garfunkel
from the album Bridge Over Troubled Water
B-side "Why Don't You Write Me"
Released September 1970
Format 7" single
Recorded November 1968 and
November 1969
Genre Folk rock, Worldbeat, Andean music
Length 3:06
Label Columbia
Producer(s) Paul Simon,
Art Garfunkel,
Roy Halee
Simon & Garfunkel singles chronology
"Cecilia"
(1970)
"El Condor Pasa (If I Could)"
(1970)
"America"
(1972)

El Cóndor Pasa (pronounced: [el ˈkondoɾ ˈpasa], Spanish for "The Condor Passes") is an orchestral musical piece from the zarzuela El Cóndor Pasa by the Peruvian composer Daniel Alomía Robles, written in 1913 and based on traditional Andean folk tunes. In 2004, Peru declared this song as part of the national cultural heritage.[1]

It is possibly the best-known Peruvian song worldwide due to a cover version by Simon & Garfunkel in 1970 on their Bridge over Troubled Water album. This cover version is called El Condor Pasa (If I Could).

History[edit]

In 1913, Daniel Alomía Robles composed "El Cóndor Pasa", and the song was first performed publicly at the Teatro Mazzi in Lima.[2]

Paul Simon heard a version called "Paso Del Condor" by Jorge Milchberg, who was head of the group Urubamba (then known as Los Incas), who told Simon that the song was an 18th-century musical composition by an anonymous composer.[2] Simon became interested in the song and composed new lyrics for the melody.[2] The song appeared on Simon and Garfunkel's 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water and they used without permission the instrumental version of Los Incas as the basic-track. Simon became friendly with the group through this song and ended up touring with them and producing their first American album. On the Simon & Garfunkel version, Robles, Milchberg, and Simon are all listed as songwriters. Later that year, Perry Como released a cover of Simon's English version on his album It's Impossible, while Julie Felix took advantage of Simon and Garfunkel's decision not to release their version as a UK single, and had a UK Top 20 hit with it.[3] Simon & Garfunkel did release their version as a single in the U.S., which reached #18 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in fall 1970.

In 1970, Alomía Robles' son Armando Robles Godoy filed a copyright lawsuit against Simon and demonstrated that the song had been composed by his father and that his father had copyrighted the song in the United States in 1933.[2] Robles Godoy said that he bears no ill will towards Simon for what he considers a misunderstanding.[4] "It was an almost friendly court case, because Paul Simon was very respectful of other cultures. It was not carelessness on his part," says Robles Godoy.[4] "He happened to hear the song in Paris from a vernacular group. He liked it, he went to ask them and they gave him the wrong information. They told him it was a popular tune from the 18th Century and not my father’s composition. It was a court case without further complications." [4]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1970)[5] Peak
position
Australian Kent Music Report 1
Austrian Singles Chart 1
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders) 1
Dutch Singles Chart 1
West German Singles Chart 1
Spanish Singles Chart[6] 1
Swiss Singles Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 18

Other versions[edit]

  • Singaporean singer Rita Chao (凌雲) recorded a Mandarin Chinese version under the title of "相思恨" (Xiāngsī Hèn) on her 1970 LP album 永遠火辣辣.[7]
  • In 1971, Paul Mauriat and his orchestra covered this song on the album El Condor Pasa.
  • Between 1972 and 1974, this song was covered by Singapore-based female singer Ervinna, backing music by The Stylers, on her LP album Top Hits with the local White Cloud Record.
  • In 1972, Stjepan Jimmy Stanić covered song in Croatian under the name "Kondorov let", published by Jugoton.
  • Yma Sumac's 1972 album Miracles also contains a recording of "El Condor Pasa".
  • In 1974, Sandra Lang of Hong Kong covered the song in Cantonese under title name of 夢裡訴相思, on her LP album 好彩又到 Sunday/啼笑姻緣 with the local Crown Records.
  • Spanish eurodance DJ, DJ Sammy, has a eurodance version on his album Heaven. This version does have lyrics, however they are spoken and not the Simon and Garfunkel ones.
  • In France, Marie Laforêt performed her "Sur les chemins des Andes" (aka "Sur le chemin des Andes" aka "La flûte magique") in 1966. It is said to be based on Jorge Milchberg's adaptation.
  • Russian pop star Valery Leontiev released the song on his album The Years of Wandering in 2009.
  • Israeli folk duo The Parvarim released a Hebrew version of the song
  • Simon himself performed the song on Sesame Street as a spot.
  • In a 1980 episode of The Muppet Show, the song was given a parody treatment with nonsense rhymes by The Great Gonzo, earning the mock ire of guest star Paul Simon.
  • Andy Williams released a version in 1970 on his album, The Andy Williams Show.
  • Italian singer Gigliola Cinquetti performed a cover with Italian lyrics.
  • Belgian pianist Ward De Vleeschhouwer released a complete version of "El Cóndor Pasa" on his album Chicha Morada.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]