My Parents Never Listened to this Music: 70s Spanish Pop Ballads


Porque Te Vas scene from the film Cria Cuervos

My love for cheesy Spanish 70s pop ballads started with this song, one of my all time favorites, Jeanette’s Por Que Te Vas. My introduction to this wistful melody was through the dark and melancholy 1976 film, Cria Cuervos. In the movie, the young girl Ana uses the song as way to escape the dreariness and sorrow of her family life (an allegorical stand in for fascist Spain). Ana’s father, a fascist military man has recently died (she believes she has poisoned him) and her dead mother who died a few years before, comes to Ana as a phantom memory. Her authoritarian aunt and dying grandmother are left to look after her but her real life lessons come from the anarchistic housekeeper. In the midst of this turmoil, young Ana begins to mix reality with fantasy and at times, her older self of the future speaks to her:

I don’t believe in childhood paradise, or in innocence, or the natural goodness of children. I remember my childhood as a long period of time, interminable, sad, full of fear, fear of the unknown.

In this context, the song is transformed and the lyrics “Hoy en mi ventana brilla el sol/ y un corazon/ se pone triste contemplando la ciudad/ por que te vas” take on more meaning than Jeanette could ever have imagined.

The director of Cria Cuervos, Carlos Saura went on later to make a number of fantastic flamenco themed movies.
[As an aside, for another take on childhood-turned-on-it’s-head movies, I totally recommend Terry Gilliam’s Tideland, an all time favorite of mine. Not for those that are squeamish, easily offended or have delicate sensibilities. Coincidentally, in both films the young protagonists have interactions with little critters. In Tideland, Jeliza-Rose is taunted by a squirrel and in Cria Cuervos, Ana is attached to a pet guinea pig. ]

On to more music!>>>>>
(warning, lots of videos after the jump)

Jeanette’s other song, “Soy Rebelde” is another favorite. Although it’s hard to take her rebelliousness seriously when she’s singing so passively.


Soy Rebelde by Jeanette

But sublime movie scenes can’t be explained for my other forays into 70s Spanish pop. Roberto Carlos’s Namoradinha de um Amigo Meu (actually it’s from 1968 and it’s sung in Portuguese, oh well) was first heard on a jukebox in one of my favorite local restaurants, La Llamarada. I tried to play it every time I ate there but it quickly became apparent that only I and the owner (who originally selected the song) cared much for Roberto Carlos because as soon the tune was over, the jukebox was taken over by Rancheras.


Namoradinha de um Amigo Meu -Roberto Carlos

You might be more familiar with his later “amigo” song sung in Spanish, which I happen to also like, despite the heavy religious reference:


Amigo-Roberto Carlos

Besides Jeanette, my other favorite all time song from this genre and era is Camilo Sesto’s Greek sounding Melina. What a crooner!


Melina-Camilo Sesto

His song Amor, Amar is also pretty badass:


Amor, Amar-Camilo Sesto

Don’t think I like these songs for the kitsch value. My parents never listened to this music, nor did I grow up with it. As I frequently mention when it comes to music, I am a slave to melody and each of these songs has a melodic element that I love. Mixed with 70s instrumentation and production, they sound ‘fresh’ to my ears.

By the way, I’m not the only one who has a thing for Jeanette. At the recent Phantom Sightings show, I was immediately drawn to the wall of ipods containing playlists of exhibiting artists. I scrolled through Shizu Saldamando’s selections and quickly realized she and I share an affinity for music:
ps_shizus_playlist.jpg
Her playlist included many other favorites including Stereototal, Broadcast and the most surprising of all, R Kelly’s Bump and Grind, which I ONLY like for it’s kitsch factor.

Fellow blogger El Chavo has previously written about his favorite Spanish balladeer, Emmanuel. I blame him for starting this disturbing craze.

10 thoughts on “My Parents Never Listened to this Music: 70s Spanish Pop Ballads

  1. Pocho Saurus says:

    I’m checking out the movie on Netflix – it kinda reminds me of those movies I watched with my parents – Cantinflas flicks, fast talking D.F. types, “La Risa en Vacaciones” and this one movie with a poor boy and the saddest plastic firetruck you’ve ever seen.

  2. pablo says:

    Oye soy de tijuana mandame un mail para platicar. esta re chido tu blog. arre.

    esa movie la quiero ver desde hacer rato, vi una con ana torrent creo que fue su primer que es el espiritu de la colmena, esta bien rara.

    Si se te atora el español te escribo en ingles!

  3. Chimatli says:

    Gracias a todos por las repuestas y a sobretodo a Pablo por el cumplimiento! 🙂
    Oh, El Chavo great bit of sleuthing on Melina. I loved the video but you prolly already know that!

  4. Lili says:

    Well I did actually growing up listening to these songs and i Love them! I just now got into downloading them and just realized my friend was named after her! lol.. My mother was crazy about Camilo Sesto.. she even carried a picture of him in her wallet. (weird.. i know! lol)
    BTW- that movie you described on the top reminds me of Pan’s Labyrinth a little, it sounds awesome..

  5. Nance says:

    Oh, I am so happy to hear “Melina” again. On my first trip to Spain, I heard and loved the song. I have tried for many years to find the song and never could until today. Now, I’ve listened to it about 10 times and will bookmark the page. LOVE IT!!! Thank you for posting it!

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