Boleros are probably one of the most celebrated music genres in the Spanish-speaking world. Their sweetness, intensity, and sensuality are the reasons why it's so easy to fall in love with them (or because of them). I remember the time I realized I loved this music genre: my grandfather used to pick me up at school, and I remember the scent of cigars on his clothes as he hugged me close and how he asked me if I wanted to listen to some music on our way home. He would always play the same record over and over again: Agustín Lara's compilation of boleros. I don’t know what it was, whether it was the melody, the feeling, his voice, or if it was just the love stories that captivated me. I loved those songs. Though I was only a little boy, it was impossible not to picture and feel what he was singing about. I didn’t know what love was back then (and I guess I still don’t know), but I still knew that that's what it sounded like.
La Sonora Matancera
To listen to boleros is to hear the many voices of Latin American romance: passionate, heartbroken, open, and intense. It’s an experience that feels very close to us because this music genre has been extremely popular all over the continent. With roots in Spain but actually born in Cuba, boleros were exported to the Americas, from New York and Mexico City to Puerto Rico and Ecuador. By the fifties, it was already consolidated as the universal music genre for us Spanish speakers. Boleros give us a sense of pride as Latinos because it connects our cultures through a common music style. It also brings a sense of nostalgia since most of us got to know it because of our great grandparents and grandparents. Nowadays, boleros are still very popular (they have found a new rebirth in Vietnam, for example) and more and more contemporary artists bring them back to life for younger generations as if it were the everlasting beat of the Latin American heart.
Now, as an adult, these songs keep moving me to my core. It might be simple melancholy, or because it allows me to connect to the experience of love, or maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic. To find the love of your life, "the one," seems like the toughest thing at times. However, I already have a list of ten boleros prepared, for if and when we meet. I can't wait to slow dance by the candlelight, as I sing softly that “no matter if a thousand years pass, your lips will always taste like mine.” Meanwhile, as I wait, I’ll let the sea, as Natalia Lafourcade says, sing to me “un bolero de soledad” [a bolero of loneliness].
“Mi Única Boca” by Trio Matamoros (Cuba)
"Cuando Salí De Cuba" by Celia Cruz (Cuba)
"Amor Por Ti" by Pellín Rodríguez (Puerto Rico)
"Todo Me Gusta De Ti" by La Sonora Matancera (Cuba)
"Tú Llegaste A Mi Vida" by Lebron Brothers (Puerto Rico)
"Yo Sé Que Te Amo" by Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz (USA)
"Sin Ti" by Los Panchos (Mexico)
"Nosotros" by Omara Portuondo (Cuba)
"Sabor A Mí" by Luis Miguel (Mexico)
"Soledad y El Mar" by Natalia Lafourcade (Mexico)
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