pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

El Condor Pasa

To finalize our college credit for the class Simon and Garfunkel: The Poet-Musicians of Folk-Rock, we were to choose to develop a lesson plan (if we were currently teaching) or do a reaction paper. It was left pretty free-form as to what we supplied.

I chose to look up the lyrics to El Condor Pasa, my favorite S&G song. There was a WEALTH of material... (Results 1 - 10 of about 206,000 English pages for El condor pasa. (0.16 seconds) 
I had in mind finding the Spanish original and setting up a lesson plan that involved comparing Simon's lyrics to the Spanish, which I hoped Spanish III and IV students had a prayer of being able to translate... .

Instead, you (along with my teacher) are getting the results of that endeavor, tentatively titled, "Why I can't translate the 'Spanish' lyrics:"

"El Cóndor Pasa is a Peruvian zarzuela, or musical play, and its more famous title song....

"The song appears in the finale. Originally it was wordless. The tune is a cashua, a kind of Andean dance similar to a huaino. It was inspired by traditional Andean songs.

"The words are in Quechua, the language of the Inca Empire which is still spoken by the indigenous people of Peru. The singer calls on the mighty condor of the Andes to take him back to the old Inca kingdom of Machu Picchu."

Original English Lyrics by Paul Simon
Arrangement of 18th Century Peruvian folk melody by Jorge Milchberg
Notated in 1916 by Daniel Alomias Robles
Paul Simon Music

Well, great! I don't speak Quechua, nor know anyone who does, but have a friend who MIGHT know of it... However, I did not get to the original language lyrics that I remember now...

Even going to sites where the information about the song was in Spanish, the original lyrics did not turn up. They gave the English, only the below one offered a Spanish version, and NOT the ones I can remember from somewhere... but, needless to say, in a WEEK, I did NOT visit ALL the 206,000 some sites... nor even all those found on the first 10 pages... I did look over the first five or so.

Translations (more or less) into a variety of languages, including Spanish... NOT THE ORIGINAL VERSION -- Paul Simon's version..

Here's another unrelated version:

El condor al pasar me dijo a mí, sígueme, más allá, y tú verás
En la espalda del condor me senté, a volar, cada vez más alto, el cielo alcanzar

Mirar, mirar hacia la tierra, tan distinta de lo que ví
Fronteras no se deben ver, todo el mundo, desde allí, es lo que ví

El condor al cantar se escuchó, repitió, son hermanos, todos iguales

I know my musicality is about, ah, say, zip, but I can't see how this would go with the tune... This the Spanish kids should be able to handle. But, *I* can't sing it with the tune. Sigh.

I found another version, with the surrounding text in Italian(??) by Raul Hector Luere, who plays the Indian flute (Il flauto di Pan)

Definitely a love song, here... Again, I can't put these lyrics with the tune... :-(


D. A. Robles

El amor como un cóndor bajará,
mi corazón golpeará,
después se irá...
La luna en el desierto brillará
y tú vendrás solamente un beso me dejarás.
Quién sabe mañana donde irás
qué harás, me pensarás?
Yo sé que nunca volverás
mas pienso que no viviré.
Cómo podré?
La angustia y el dolor me dejarás
mi corazón sufrirá y morirá.
El amor como un cóndor volará,
partirá, y así nunca más regresará.
Yo sé que nunca...
(The link to this one is no longer among those LJ will allow, but was “legal” back in 2006 when I originally posted.)

Perry Como did a cover of El Condor Pasa Nov. 24, 1970, Recorded at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, with an orchestra... That must have sounded REAL AUTHENTIC...

It seems there HAVE been a few covers more recently:

This site seems to be the most detailed of the ones I viewed. A lot were NOT in the US. I think the DJ Sammy one is a guitar version.

MUSIC from the ANDES...and nearby regions [Español]

'El Condor Pasa' Peru//Los Chacos (Barclay 920.199)
El Condor Pasa was arranged in 1913 by Daniel Alomia Robles

I listened to the mp3 download and found in addition to a slightly different instrumental version of the middle part that Simon and Garfunkel used, a fast section that was new to me. No lyrics.

• 'El Condor Pasa' - USA//Simon & Garfunkel (Sony B00002MZ41)
This legendary 1970 hit record introduced Andean music to millions worldwide. Paul Simon's lyrics are backed by Los Incas.

At first I thought the lyrics are apparently different in a Japanese version of the song:

Akio Nakamura

I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail.
Yes I would.
If I could,
I surely would.
I'd rather be a hammer than a nail.
Yes I would.
If I only could,
I surely would.

Away, I'd rather sail away
Like a swan that's here and gone
A man gets tied up to the ground
He gives the world
Its saddest sound,
Its saddest sound.

I'd rather be a forest than a street.
Yes I would.
If I could,
I surely would.

I'd rather feel the earth beneath my feet,
Yes I would.
If I only could,
I surely would.

BUt then I found it this way on many other sites.

Have you ever heard of this artist? Mauriat, Paul - El Condor Pasa I can't see the contents to see if it is the Paul Simon version... a CD of it is $69 and the cheapest LP is $5. Of course, I never heard of him. The category is easy listening, and in one other place, it showed "and his orchestra."

Links of Interest:

Guitar Tablature and Chords
World-Wide: Here's a fellow who heard the lyrics in VIETNAMESE... evidently a direct translation of Paul Simon's version. What a kick!

Paul Simon produced the Andean group Urubamba in 1973:
    SIDE 2
1 Urubamba
2 El Corazon Del Inca - Heart Of The Inca King
3 Canten Cantores - Singers
4 Fugitivo En El Altiplano - Fugitive Of the High Plains
5 El Eco
6 Caballo De Madera - Wooden Horse
1 Kacharpari
2 Campanas De Santa Cruz - Death in Santa Cruz
3 Buena Nueva - Good News Pan Pipes
4 Para Pelusa
5 Uňa


Urubamba - Produced by Paul Simon

Urubamba is the name of the river which winds at the foot of Machu Picchu, the last stronghold of the Incas against European conquest. So it is altogether fitting this river should have lent its name to a quartet of Peruvian musicians who are devoted to the preservation of the music of Inca culture ~ Like a river, Urubamba flows with a natural ease and strength which suggests an indomitable culture. It is among the most soothing and inspiring sounds I know, a source of continual fascination with its alternately stately and martial rhythms, its sometimes festive, sometimes wistful, sometimes absolutely mournful air. Hearing it, for the first time or the hundredth, one feels restored and uplifted. ~ Urubamba is best known in Europe and North America for its contributions to a pair of Paul Simon recordings. Simon first met the band (then know as Los Incas) when they were co-billed at the Theatre del L'Est Parisienne in Paris in 1965. They gave him one of their albums, and it so intrigued him that he wrote the lyrics to one of their melodies which became Simon and Garfunkel's "El Condor Pasa." Later, they accompanied him on "Duncan" from this first solo album, and on his 1973 concert tour (where "Kacharpari," which opens side two of this album, was recorded). It was during this time that Urubamba was recorded, using the traditional Inca Instruments: la quena, flutes of varying length and pitch; la antara, the panpipe; la charango, the guitar-like stringed instrument; and la bombo leguero, the massive willow and goat-skin drum. ~ It's ironic that Urubamba should have made a name for itself as a part of contemporary pop music, but it's also testimony to the enduring vitality of this music. After all, the point of Urubamba is that such sounds transcend their era, a point established in the opening track, with its flamenco-like accents and propulsive rhythm, and sustaine throughout the record, through the fife-and-drum inflections of "Singers" and the achingly lovely "Death In Santa Cruz" and "Heart of the Inca King." Listening to it, one feels that he has penetrated to the heart of a lost culture - and to one's own lost heart as well, which perhaps explains the singularly meditative and inspiring feellings it provokes. Like the music of the Appalachian mountains, these Inca melodies are a high, lonesome sound which reach out beyond the time and place of their creation - whether seven or seven hundred years ago - to speak to everyone who hears them today - Dave Marsh

Even if I didn't get a lesson plan created, I enjoyed the rather convoluted journey... BTW, Los Incas became Urubamba, and I have and enjoy that album, which WOI-FM used to play every once in a while.

Now, I have collected their back catalog in digital format, both as Urubamba and Los Incas, which they are again using. Give them a listen.
Tags: music madness
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