Hello dancers! Here we are at the end of October, and we figured we’d delight you with music appropriate to the occasion. However you celebrate Halloween, entertain yourself with the songs listed below, each of them talking about death, ghosts, skeletons, and other scary stuff. If you start getting any weird emotions, just shake them off on the dance floor!
El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico – “La Muerte”
Let’s start with the song you’ll certainly recognize: “La Muerte” [Death] by the iconic El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. This song that starts with Yo soy la muerte… la muerte soy [I am death. Death I am] continues in the chorus with lines like: Corre que te coje la muerte [Run, or Death will catch you], Vete volando que se te acaba tu suerte [Fly away, since your luck is up] and Te ha llegado la hora [Your time is up]. Wanna be scared? Here are some of the best lines in the song. Listen at minute 3:58 on the video below.
Arrepentido si quiero verte / Supuestamente por las patas te va a agarrar/ Y después que te agarre no te va a soltar / Mirale los dientes / Te repito, te ha llegado la hora
I want to see you penitent / Supposedly, it will grab you by the feet / And once it grabs you it won’t let you go / Look at its teeth / I repeat, your time is up
How many times have you danced to this song? And did you know you were dancing to something this scary?
The Latin Brothers – “Las Calaveras”
Here’s “Las Calaveras” [The Skeletons] played by Colombian group The Latin Brothers. This is a story about two men who died on the same day: a beloved black fruit seller named Simon and a rich land owner named Pipon. Both of them were buried at the same cemetery, although the first one was carried inside a simple casket and the second one upon a float covered with flowers and accompanied by a funeral procession. Both of them were left to rest. After a while, says the singer, he went back to the cemetery, where he found two skeletons. Neither one had a nose, but both of them were white, which brings us to the moral of the story, starting at minute 2:30 of the video.
Las Calaveras todas blancas son / multicolores por fuera, por dentro un solo color / No importa como te mueras si solo es un vacilon / Como el gordo y el negrito / El frutero y el pipon / No hay diferencia de raza, ni tampoco religión / Es el color de la tuya y la mia, todo, la del mundo entero / Aquello del camposanto, un mensaje verdadero
Skeletons are all white / Multicolor on the outside, but one same color inside / It does not matter how you die, it is all a joke / Like the fat man and the black man / The fruit seller and the big bellied man / There’s no difference of race, neither of religion / Is the color of yours and mine, of the entire humankind / This in the cemetery, is a true message
Now, that is definitely a message. Thankfully, if there’s a place where skin color does not matter is on a Salsa dance floor, have you noticed? It’s a beautiful thing!
Ignacio Piñeiro – “Sobre Una Tumba Una Rumba”
“Sobre Una Tumba Una Rumba” [A Rumba over a Tomb], has been recorded by many singers and orchestras. I’m sending you here to listen a version recorded by Bebo Valdes in the voice of Celeste Mendoza. The singer asks an undertaker to take his time burying a woman. She had been a lover once, the singer explains, but now she deserves a plant of thorns instead of flowers to mark her tomb, to remind everyone of the kind of person she was. At second 41, the chorus sings:
No la llores / que fue una gran bandolera / Enterrador, no la llores
Don’t cry for her / because she was a huge bandit / Undertaker, don’t cry for her
The singer then continues (at second 53):
Luego en lugar de rezar por su descanso un réquiem / ruega que vaya al infierno y que el Diablo le haga bien / y en el mármol de su tumba, de eterna recordación, pondremos esta inscripción que es la copia de una rumba: No la lloren mas, ni la sientan mas / que fue una gran bandolera / Enterrador, no la llores
Instead of praying a réquiem for her eternal rest / ask that she goes to hell and that the Devil will take care of her / and in the stone of her tomb, to remind us eternally, we’ll add this inscription that is the copy of a rumba: don’t cry any more, don’t mourn for her / because she was a huge bandit / Undertaker don’t cry for her
Wow! How’d you like that?! Whatever you do in your life, strive to do nothing that will motivate your lover to write a song like this one when your turn comes around!
Israel “Cachao” Lopez – “El Fantasma”
“El Fantasma” [The Ghost], by the unforgettable Cuban bassist and composer Cachao, is mostly an instrumental song. However, there’s a voice during its first few seconds to set the tone. What follows is a descarga of bass and percussion that would make any ghost dance, and even more any of us!
Gilberto Santa Rosa – “Sombra Loca”
This is a song that you may have danced to many times over, but have you paid attention to the lyrics? In this video of “Sombra Loca” [Crazy Shadow] Gilberto Santa Rosa sings (second 36):
Esa sombra loca que llega a mi cama / siento que me toca, siento que me ama / y al tratar de verla se pierde en la puerta y no aparece mas
That crazy shadow that gets to my bed / I feel that it touches me, I feel that it loves me / but when I try to see it, it gets lost through the door and it doesn’t appear any more
Say what?! The video makes it look like he’s talking about a girl that once loved him and has since moved on to a new guy… or is that what happened!?
(minute 3) La sombra de tu cariño esta en todos los rincones de esta casa, y no se puede borrar ni olvidar
The shadow of your love is in every corner of this house, and it can’t be erased or forgotten
(minute 3:27) Todas las noches tu recuerdo me quita el sueño, me llega puntual, tu imagen que me persigue, y no me deja vivir en paz
Every night the thought of you keeps me awake, punctually, your image follows me, and won’t let me live in peace
(minute 3:37) Tengo miedo de llegar a casa a pasar otro dia igual
I’m afraid to get home to re-live it all again
We don’t know folks… but whatever that crazy shadow is, we don’t want it around!
Barbaro Fines y su Mayimbe – “El Diablo”
Timba can be scary too! Barbaro Fines and his group Mayimbe start “El Diablo” [The Devil] with the words: hay que tener mucho cuidado con el Diablo que anda suelto [you must be very careful with the Devil ‘cuz he’s loose out there]. He goes on to describe the devil as having sharp nails and red eyes and suggests that you be ready to throw on him a bucket of scolding water so that he’ll leave. In the video, at minute 1:25, the chorus then sings:
El Diablo ya esta en la calle embarra’o de Manteca / yo lo vi / y si lo cojes se resbala
The Devil is on the streets lathered in lard / I saw him / and if you try to grab him he slips out
Fines recorded this song in Peru, and if that is where one can see the Devil in the streets… well, now we know!
Los Demonios del Salao – “Se Soltaron los Demonios”
In the voice of Carlos Miranda, Los Demonios del Salao warn that “Se Soltaron los Demonios” [The demons are loose]. On an evening when he was having a good time in his patio, says the singer, the demons showed up. Thankfully, what they decided to do with their newfound freedom was to dance. In the midst of that party, Lucifer appeared to warn them that it was almost day time. Somehow, because these demons are dancers… they aren’t all that scary!
We hope you enjoyed this “dark” and “scary” selection of Salsa. Can one really be scared while listening and dancing to all this melodic goodness? We’ll be back next month. Who knows, perhaps with a healthy selection of music about turkeys and pilgrims!? Have a fun and, of course, danceable Halloween!