Every week, in what we call #TBT, we take a look at the people, places, and things that stood out in Latino history. This edition is all about the songs we grew up listening to at family parties; Saturday mornings cleaning the house; and on record players, tape players, CD players, iPods, and online.
“Besame Mucho,” Consuelo Velasquez, Several Artists
I was surprised and super proud, to learn that the super popular, very covered (Trio Los Panchos, Luis Miguel, Nat King Cole, The Beatles, Placido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli, etc.) hit “Besame Mucho,” was penned by a teenage girl. Mexicana Consuelo Velasquez wrote the song in 1940, although she had yet to be kissed.
“La Bamba,” Ritchie Valens, Los Lobos
Chicano Ritchie Valens (Richard Valenzuela) became a rock and roll star, in part, because of his iconic hit song, “La Bamba.” The song, an adaptation of a folk song from Veracruz, was released in 1958. The film of the same name brought the song back into the mainstream in 1987, with a version by Los Lobos.
“Guantanamera,” Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz was an icon in pretty much all our lifetimes. There are several hits we all know, and love, but the most popular is the Grammy-nominated “Guantanamera.” Celia’s version was released in 1966; others who created their own versions include Joan Baez, The Sandpipers, Wyclef, La Lupe, and Gloria Estefan.
“Querida,” Juan Gabriel
Even if you don’t know all the words to this song by Juan Gabriel, you know exactly when to yell out “querida!” The hit was released in 1984, and remains one of Juanga’s biggest jams.
“El Rey,” Vicente Fernandez
Chente has always been the arbiter of cool. When “El Rey” would come on, it was time to sing along and embrace your inner badass. The original 1971 song was by Jose Alfredo Jimenez; Vicente Fernandez’s version was released in 1974.
“Conga,” Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine
Way before the big Latin music crossover of the ’90s, Gloria Estefan, Emilio Estefan, and the rest of the Miami Sound Machine took the world by storm with the 1985 Latino-tinged hit “Conga.” The song will always be pure fire, and is a source of pride for Latinos everywhere.
“La Gota Fria,” Carlos Vives
The 1994 version of “La Gota Fria,” a remake of 1 1938 vallenato song composed by Emiliano Zuleta, became a major musical moment for Colombia. You’d know once that flute starts, it was time to hit the dance floor.