Solamente una vez
1. Solamente una vez
2. amé en la vida.
I have loved in life.
3. Solamente una vez
4. y nada más.
and nothing more (i.e. no more than that)
5. Una vez, nada más
Once, no more than that
6. en mi huerto
in my garden (or orchard)
7. brilló la esperanza,
shone hope (did hope shine)
8. la esperanza que alumbra
hope which lights up
9. el camino de mi soledad.
the pathway of my loneliness.
10. Una vez, nada más, se entrega el alma
Once, no more than that, does one give one’s soul
11. con la dulce y total renunciación.
with sweet and total renunciation.
12. Y cuando ese milagro realiza
And when that miracle produces
13. el prodigio de amarse
the prodigious phenomenon of two people loving each other
14. hay campanas de fiesta
There are festival church bells
15. que cantan en el corazón.
that sing in the heart.
Agustín Lara and the Birth of Solamente una vez
Agustín Lara was born in 1897, possibly in Mexico City, possibly Veracruz. His mother died when he was very young and his father disappeared early from the scene leaving Lara to be brought up by an aunt. Lara was precocious and began singing and playing piano in bars and bordellos in his mid-teens. In 1933 he toured Cuba, discovered the rumba, and played an important part in importing that stately dance to Mexico. Lara wrote hundreds of songs, the most memorable of which are, in my opinion, Solamente una vez, Noche de ronda, Granada, María Bonita, and Nací con alma de pirata. Apart from Solamente una vez I have included two other Lara songs in this book: Noche de ronda (song 3) and Granada (song 17). [Note that Granada is the subject of my blog of Feb. 6, 2016. You can access it by scrolling down.]
The Spanish admired Lara and Franco gave Lara a house in Granada in recognition for writing the famous song of the same name. Lara’s white art deco house in Veracruz has been turned into a museum to honor him. It is well worth a visit, preferably on a moonlit night.
The birth of Solamente una vez is interesting. Lara was on a musical tour of South America in 1935 and he was in love with the group’s singer, Ana María González. (see photo on p. 3). They had terrible fights and after one of these fights Ana María threatened to leave and go back to Mexico. Lara thought this would be disastrous for the group (and very sad for himself) so he wrote her a song which would convince her of his love and cause her to stay with the tour. Whatever his motives, the song did the trick and she stayed on. Solamente una vez is featured in two movies: Los tres caballeros and Melodía de américa There is also a movie which celebrates Lara’s most famous compositions: La vida de Lara (1958).
In a movie on the life of Frida Kahlo (Frida, naturaleza viva, 1983, with Ofelia Medina in the title role) there is a scene near the end in which Frida and a German girlfriend start singing Solamente una vez while preparing supper. This song is iconic in Mexico. The mention of campanas (line 14) is a rich allusion; church bells are a delight to hear in Mexico.
The songbird on my CD, Manuelita Arriola (1920-2004), was born in Rosario (Sinaloa), Mexico. She was at her prime in the 1940s. You can listen to her and maybe even see her in action by googling “YouTube and Manuelita Arriola.” [You can order Love songs in Spanish from amazon.com but they can’t supply the excellent CD I made. If you order the book through me at www.godwinbooks.com it comes with the CD and will cost a little more. I recommend versions by three other singers: Lola Beltrán, Plácido Domingo and Connie Francis. See which you like best by googling like this: Youtube and Solamente una vez and Connie Francis, etc.