La Paloma

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La Paloma (S. Iradier)
La Paloma, 1930 cartoon

"La Paloma", known in English as No More, is a popular Spanish song that has been produced and reinterpreted in diverse cultures, settings, arrangements, and recordings over the last 140 years. The song was composed and written by the Spanish composer from the Basque region Sebastián Iradier (later Yradier) in the 1850s. In 1859, it was registered at the copyright office in Madrid as a "Cancion Americana con acompañamiento de Piano".[1] Iradier was to die in obscurity within few years, never to learn how popular his song would become.

"La Paloma" belongs to a genre of songs called habaneras, a musical style developed in 19th-century Spain that is still today very much present in the form of folk songs and formal compositions, particularly in the Northern Basque region and east coast (Catalonia and Valencia) regions of the country.[citation needed] Like all Habaneras, its characteristic and distinct rhythm reflects the fusion of the local Cuban songs that the Spanish sailors of the time brought back with them from their travels to the island, with the rhythm structure of the flamenco “tanguillo gaditano” (original from Cádiz, Andalusia).

Very quickly, "La Paloma" became popular outside of Spain, particularly in Mexico, and soon spread around the world. In many places, including Afghanistan, Hawaii, the Philippines, Germany, Romania, Zanzibar, and Goa it gained the status of a quasi-folk song. Over the years, the popularity of "La Paloma" has surged and receded periodically, but never subsided. It may be considered one of the first universal popular hits and has appealed to artists of diverse musical backgrounds.[2] There are more than one thousand versions of this song, and together with "Yesterday" by The Beatles, is one of the most-recorded songs in the history of music. It is certainly the most-recorded Spanish song.

The motif[edit]

The motif of "La Paloma" (the dove) can be traced back to an episode that occurred in 492 BC, before Darius' invasion of Greece, a time when the white dove had not yet been seen in Europe.[3] The Persian fleet under Mardonius was caught in a storm off the shore of Mount Athos and wrecked, when the Greeks observed white doves escaping from the sinking Persian ships. This inspired the notion that such birds bring home a final message of love from a sailor who is lost at sea.

This theme that a final link of love overcomes death and separation is reflected in "La Paloma". While the lyrics may not always be true to the original, the soul of the song seems to survive all attempts to recast it in whatever new form and shape there may be and is able to express the tension between separation with loneliness, even death, and love.[citation needed]


The Song became the favorite of Princess Charlotte of Belgium, Empress of Mexico, reason why the followers of president Juarez and the liberal party, made a parody. In the Portuguese novel The Crime of Father Amaro, written in 1871 by the considered greatest Portuguese writer, Eça de Queiroz, it is referred to as "[l]a Chiquita, an old Mexican song."

German and French versions appeared in the 1860s.[4]

In English, a version titled "No More" with lyrics by Don Robertson and Hal Blair was recorded by both Dean Martin and Elvis Presley. Harry James recorded a version in 1941 on Columbia 36146.

La Paloma has been interpreted by musicians of diverse backgrounds including opera, pop, jazz, rock, military bands, and folk music.most notably pop and country music singer Marty Robbins' version is the most popular rendition.

The song entered the Guinness Book of World Records being sung by the largest choir, 88,600 people, in Hamburg on May 9, 2004.[5]


La Paloma is played in these movies:

Noted too that in the John Huston film version of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon the name of the boat that delivers the black bird to San Francisco, the boat that later catches fire, is La Paloma.

The song "La Paloma" is the subject of the 2008 documentary La Paloma. Sehnsucht. Weltweit.[7][8]

Public domain lyrics[edit]

1. Cuando salí de la Habana
¡Válgame Dios!
Nadie me ha visto salir
Si no fui yo.
Y una linda Guachinanga
Allá voy yo.
Que se vino tras de mí,
que sí, señor.
Si a tu ventana llega una paloma,
Trátala con cariño que es mi persona.
Cuéntale tus amores, bien de mi vida,
Corónala de flores que es cosa mía.
Ay, chinita que sí!
Ay, que dame tu amor!
Ay, que vente conmigo, chinita,
A donde vivo yo!
2. El día que nos casemos ¡Válgame Dios!
En la semana que hay ir Me hace reir
Desde la Iglesia juntitos, Que sí señor,
Nos iremos a dormir, Allá voy yo.
3. Cuando el curita nos eche La bendición
En la Iglesia Catedral, Allá voy yo
Yo te daré la manita Con mucho amor
Y el cura dos hisopazos Que sí señor
4. Cuando haya pasado tiempo ¡Válgame Dios!
De que estemos casaditos Pues sí señor,
Lo menos tendremos siete Y que furor!
O quince guachinanguitos Allá voy yo


  1. ^ "American song with piano accompaniment" (James J. Fuld, The Book of World-famous Music. Classical, Popular, and Folk (Fifth edition revised and enlarged), New York, Dover Publications, 2000, p. 420, ISBN 0-486-41475-2).
  2. ^ Gross, Thomas (5 July 2008). Heimweh für alle "La Paloma – Heimweh für alle" Check |url= value (help). Schlager (in German). Hamburg, Germany. Die Zeit. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
  3. ^ Pankraz, Marcel Proust und das ewige Lied "La Paloma" (German)[1]
  4. ^ La Paloma (in German)
  5. ^ Video Event 2004
  6. ^ NY Times Review of movie La Paloma (1938) from 09-08-2008
  7. ^ Review (German) by cinefacts
  8. ^ IMDb La Paloma. Sehnsucht. Weltweit. – A documentary


  • Rüdiger Bloemeke: La Paloma – Das Jahrhundert-Lied, Voodoo Verlag 2005, ISBN 3000155864
  • Sigrid Faltin / Andreas Schäfler: La Paloma – das Lied, Marebuch Verlag 2008, ISBN 3866480881

External links[edit]