Breedloves's Folk Songs



Guantanamera” (“girl from Guantánamo“) is perhaps the best known Cuban song and that
country’s most noted patriotic song. The music for the song is regularly attributed to José
Fernández Diaz, known as Joselíto Fernández, who claimed to have written it at various
dates, and who used it regularly in one of his radio programs. Some researchers claim
that the song’s structure actually came from music already in popular use by peasants in
southeastern Cuba during the early 20th century, and that Fernández merely adopted the
melody as his own. The history behind the chorus and its lyrics (“Guantanamera … /
Guajira Guantanamera …”) is quite similar to this one: García was at a street corner with
a group of friends, and made a courteous pass (a “piropo”, in Spanish) to a woman (who
also happened to be from Guantánamo) who walked by the group, and answered back
rather harshly, offended by the pass. Stunned, he could not take his mind off her reaction
while his friends made fun of him; later that day, sitting at a piano with his friends next to
him, he wrote the song’s main refrain.
I am a truthful man from this land of palm trees
Before dying I want to share these poems of my soul
My verses are light green
But they are also flaming red
Guajira Guantanamera
Guajira Guantanamera
I cultivate a rose in June and in January
For the sincere friend who gives me his hand
And for the cruel one who would tear out this
heart with which I live
I do not cultivate thistles nor nettles
I cultivate a white rose

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