A remarkably beautiful song, Sabor a mí

1. Tanto tiempo disfrutamos de este amor,

For so long we enjoyed this love,

2. nuestras almas se acercaron tanto así

our souls became so close this way

3. que yo guardo tu sabor

that I keep (still have) your taste

4. pero tú llevas también sabor a mí.

but you too carry my taste with you.

5. Si negaras mi presencia en tu vivir

If you were to deny my presence in your life

6. bastaría con abrazarte y conversar.

it would be sufficient to embrace you and converse (with you).

7. Tanta vida yo te di

I gave you so much life

8. Que por fuerza tienes ya sabor a mí.

that perforce you still have my taste.

                                      CHORUS

9. No pretendo ser tu dueña/o.

  I don’t claim to be your owner.

10. No soy nada y no tengo vanidad

      I am nothing and I have no vanity.

11. De mi vida doy lo bueno.

      of my life I give the best.

12. Soy tan pobre—¿qué otra cosa puedo dar?

       I am so poor–what else can I give?  (end of chorus)

13. Pasarán más de mil años, muchos más ;

      A thousand years will go by, many more:

14.  yo no sé si tenga amor la eternidad

    I don’t know if there is love in eternity

15.  pero allá tal como aquí en la boca

    But there, just like here, in your mouth

16  llevarás sabor a mí, sabor a mí.

    will carry my taste with you.

Repeat verses 9-16

                                                                            General Notes

Álvaro Carrillo Alarcón was born in San Juan Cacahuatepec, Oaxaca in 1921. He took a degree in agricultural engineer­ing in 1945 but within a few years aban­doned this career to devote himself to musical composition. He wrote over 300 songs. In 1969 he and his wife were killed in a tragic head-on collision on the high­way between Cuernavaca and Mexico City. Every October the University of Chapingo hosts a festival de la canción in Carrillo’s honor. A movie, Sabor a mí was made about his life.

The intercultural chasm between the United States and Mexico which Alan Riding wrote about in his Distant Neighbors (1984) was made even deeper by the dis­torted image of Mexico as conveyed in American versions of Mexican love songs. The lines quoted below (from Be true to me) are trite and unimaginative and give a poor idea of the beauty and depth of the Latin originals. Having said that, I still think that Doris Day sings it very well.

BE TRUE TO ME  (American version of Sabor a mí).

If I prove how much I love you with each kiss

Will you cross your heart and promise me all this,

That it’s more than just a thrill

That you love me and you will

Be true to me.

I will give you all my love, Dear, here and now

If you’ll only make this solemn little vow:

That you mean just what you say.

Please be fair in every way,

Be true to me.

I’m so helpless when you touch me,

Feeling feelings that I never felt before.

Oh, my darling, say you’ll love me. (etc. etc.)

Language Points

This is one of the most original and beautiful songs I have encountered in any language.  You can listen to it sung by googling “Youtube and the song ‘Sabor a mi’.” You will find several versions, including some excellent instrumentals.

If you are studying Spanish one of the best (and most pleasurable) ways to improve your accent is to listen to a good song over and over and over.  I don’t think you will find it boring and you could be in for a surprise: you might have it memorized before you know it. By working with songs this way you will also learn a lot about the culture that produced the song. The culture here (Mexican) is steeped in the Christian/Catholic way of looking at life; this is shown by the spirituality of the words themselves: amor, almas, vivir, vida, vanidad, eternidad. As I write this the Italian song Anima e core (Soul and Heart) comes to mind. Look it up on Youtube. Also check out a recent Netflix movie, Selena, the life story of a charismatic Mexican-American singer. It’s a good movie. I believe that Netflix also lists a miniseries version of Selena’s story.

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