Amapola (song)

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"Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy)"
Single by Jimmy Dorsey, Helen O'Connell, and Bob Eberly
GenreTraditional pop
Songwriter(s)Joseph Lacalle, Albert Gamse (Eng. lyrics)
Jimmy Dorsey, Helen O'Connell, and Bob Eberly singles chronology
"Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy)"
"My Sister and I"
External audio
You may listen to the lyric tenor Nino Martini performing "Amapola" with Alfredo Antonini and his ochestra in 1940 here

"Amapola" is a 1920 song by Cádiz-born composer José María Lacalle García (later Joseph Lacalle),[1] with Spanish lyrics. After the composer died in 1937, English language lyrics were written by Albert Gamse.[2] In the 1930s, the song became a standard of the rhumba repertoire, later crossing-over into pop music charts.


"Amapola" was first recorded instrumentally by Cuban Orquesta Francesa de A. Moreno for Columbia in February 1923.[3][4] Spanish tenor Miguel Fleta made the first vocal recording in 1925. In 1935, the Lecuona Cuban Boys released their rhumba rendition of the song as a single. Japanese singer Noriko Awaya released her version of the song in 1937. A popular recorded version was made later by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra with vocalists Helen O'Connell and Bob Eberly;[5] this was released by Decca Records as catalog number 3629 and arrived on the Billboard charts on March 14, 1941, where it stayed for 14 weeks and reached #1.[6] This version was remembered by American soldiers in WWII and sung with irony as they fought in France and saw the poppies of Flanders fields. [7] Another English-language version for the American market was recorded by Spike Jones and his City Slickers in the characteristic comic style of his band.

Since its debut "Amapola" has been a favorite recording of opera tenors including Tito Schipa (1926), Nino Martini (1941),[8] Jan Peerce (1950), Alfredo Kraus (1959) and Luigi Alva (1963). Tatsuro Yamashita covered Amapola in his 1986 a cappella album "On The Street Corner 2". In 1990 "Amapola" was sung during the first Three Tenors concert in Rome.

Bing Crosby recorded the song three times: first on his album El Señor Bing (1960), then on Bing Crosby's Treasury - The Songs I Love (1965) and finally for his 1975 album Bingo Viejo.

The song was recorded by instrumental surf rockers The Spotnicks, included on their 1962 debut album The Spotnicks in London.

Ryuichi Kawamura's cover appears on his 2011 album The Voice. Natalie Cole included "Amapola" in her 2013 album Natalie Cole en Español.

In popular culture[edit]

Deanna Durbin sang the song in the 1939 film First Love.
The song was performed in other films by Alberto Rabagliati (1941) and Sara Montiel (La Bella Lola, 1962). In Gabrielle Roy's The Tin Flute, published in 1945, the character Emmanuel hums "Amapola".
An orchestral version of "Amapola" directed by Ennio Morricone served as a leitmotif in the 1984 gangster film Once Upon a Time in America.


  1. ^ Library of Congress. Copyright Office. (1920). Catalog of Copyright Entries, 1920 Music Last Half of 1920 New Series Vol 15 Part 2. U.S. Govt. Print. Off. p. 1255.
  2. ^ Collected Works of George Grant: 1933-1950 George Parkin Grant, Peter Christopher Emberley, Arthur Davis - 2000 footnote Page 35 "38 'Amapola,' a popular love-song in 1941 written in French in 1924 by Joseph M. Lacalle and later given English words by Albert Gamse. The song was recorded by many artists, including Deanna Durbin."
  3. ^ Spottswood, Richard (1990). Ethnic Music on Records: A Discography of Ethnic Recordings Produced in the United States, 1893-1942. Vol. 4: Spanish, Portuguese, Philippines, Basque (Music in American Life) (v. 4). University of Illinois Press. p. 2137. ISBN 0252017226.
  4. ^ "Columbia New Process Record ...", The Cincinnati Enquirer, p. 47, 25 November 1923
  5. ^ Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 2, side A.
  6. ^ Hoffmann, Frank (May 23, 2016). Chronology of American Popular Music, 1900-2000. London; New York: Routledge. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-415-97715-9. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  7. ^ Soule, Robert 1998. Flanders Fields Remembered. North Country Trading Post Vol 14 No. 12
  8. ^ Amapola as sung by Nino Martini and the Alfredo Antonini Orchestra on