Monday, May 18, 2015

Funeral Music: Las Golondrinas by Pedro Infante


A beautiful song for funerals is “Las Golondrinas”, also referred to as “La Golondrina”, (which translates to "The Swallow"). According to an article on “Fugots” Wordpress blog, “La Golondrina” “is a sad and beautiful traditional song from Mexico based on this symbolism… it is a song of empathy for the poor swallow who can no longer go home, or has no more home to return to.” An article on blogspot by “Popculture-Alcatraz” notes, “this song is used in Mexico to show sadness in the finish of a project, in a good bye or in the end of a project." It's also used in funerals. The swallow’s ascent symbolizes the spirit of the person rising up towards heaven. The song is meant to comfort the bereaved when played at funerals.

Wikicommons/Mpaerdyro
Many other artists have recorded “La Golondrina”. A simple search on AllMusic.com turns up 910 results for “Las Golondrinas” in songs. Many well-known singers/musicians have performed the song including: Nat King Cole, Placido Domingo, Slim Whitman, Perez Prado, Bob Wills, Xavier Cugat, Hank Williams, Vicente Fernandez, and Chet Atkins.

Pedro Infante was born in Mexico on November 18, 1917 and died on April 15, 1957. He was “one of the most famous actors and singers of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema and is an idol of the Latin American people” says Wikipedia. Wikipedia notes: he appeared in over 60 films and recorded over 350 songs, of which, “waltzes, cha-cha-chas, rancheras and boleros placed him among the most popular singers of the mariachi and ranchera music”. Some of his most famous songs are “Amorcito Corazon”; “Te Quiero Asi”; “Corazon”; and “Mi Carinito” which he sang so frequently to his on-screen film “grandmother” Sara Garcia that the song was played at her funeral.

I first heard “Las Golondrinas” sung by Pedro Infante when I was looking into traditional Mexican music often played at funerals. The Mariachi music sounds quite graceful behind Pedro Infante’s vocals. The song has a warmth and comforting quality to it. It may be designed to help the bereaved to let go, and accept the loss. Some songs are designed to evoke emotion to help people express their feelings, and “Las Golondrinas” has that quality.

Please share your thoughts on Pedro Infante's song, "Las Golondrinas". Have you found other songs comforting during a time of grief? What other songs would you share with someone who has lost a loved one? 

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