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June 2009: Most of the rest of the scrapbook has been closed for an overhaul

More bird song: Brasilian star Caetano Veloso singing Cucurrucucu Paloma in the film Hable con Ella.

What beautiful songs there are about birds! Here I have to confess to a bit of a passion for pigeons. Yes, pigeons. For some years I got quite involved in the lives of the local street pigeons who came to visit my tiny terrace, and so found myself introduced to the world of a very remarkable bird. When Charles Darwin took up breeding them to study the effects of selection he soon found it impossible to kill the unwanted birds for the same reasons that I became so fond of them. So there you are.

So, if you haven't heard this song by Tomas Mendez I'd urge you to have a listen. People describe Veloso's version as haunting. Haunting and moving it certainly is, and more. I first heard it on BBC Radio 4 some years ago and recorded it to use as background music for a short home movie I was making about Owly, our first owl, watching pigeons on the roof outside the kitchen window. Inevitably the movie became more about pigeons than the little owl just so I could have this soul-wrenching song playing in the background!

To play the movie clip at large size (it's widescreen format) click on the second little button to the right under the player window. The movie is the spanish film Hable Con Ella (Talk To Her) directed by Pedro Amoldovar. The clip is just the song -- four minutes of pure magic.

Here are the words.

Dicen que por las noches no más se le iba en puro llorar.

Dicen que no comía, no más se le iba en puro tomar.

Juran que el mismo cielo se estremecía al oír su llanto.

Cómo sufría por ella, que hasta en su muerte la fue llamando!


Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, cantaba.

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, gemía.

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, cantaba.

De pasión mortal moría.


Que una paloma triste muy de mañana le va a cantar

A la casita sola con sus puertitas de par en par.

Juran que esa paloma no es otra cosa más que su alma,

Que él todavía la espera a que regrese, la desdichada.


Cucurrucucú, paloma,

Cucurrucucú, no llores.

Las piedras jamás, paloma,

Qué van a saber de amores?


Cucurrucucú, cucurrucucú,

Cucurrucucú, paloma,

Ya no le llores.

They say that at night he didn’t do anything but cry.

They that he didn’t eat and didn’t do anything but drink.

They swear that heaven shuddered when it heard his cry,

How he suffered for her, calling out to her even as he died.


Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he sang.

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he wept.

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he sang.

As he died of mortal passion.


That a sad dove came that morning to sing to him,

To the small house with its windows open wide.

They swear that the dove is nothing less than his soul,

That is still waiting for her to come back - her, the unfortunate.


Cucurrucucú, dove,

Cucurrucucú, don’t cry.

The stones never do, dove,

What do they know of love?


Cucurrucucú, cucurrucucú,

Cucurrucucú, dove

You don’t cry any more.

I am indebted to Ed Rayne for the spanish text and translation. Ed's website (edrayne.co.uk) appears to have lapsed since I did this page, but here are a couple of comments posted by visitors on his own page on Caetano Veloso's version of the song. This one, from Yasser, is fairly typical:

"I was watching this and I was lifted to a realm beyond human recognition. This song is the type of music that lifts you to something unexplainable. As a man I do not cry, especially as I grow older, but in this instance I did and always will do."

Another interesting comment . . .

"this song hurts me when i listen to it. i do not write this in jest, i experience physical pain when i hear his horribly beautiful voice. my spanish is weak so i just knew it was a song about a dove and a man dying from the love he has lost. this song has what the portuguese call “saudade”, he sings with what lorca calls “duende”. it reminds me of rebecca del rio’s spanish version of roy orbison’s crying (llorando) performed in david lynch’s “mullholland drive”, llorando also appears on the soundtrack, check it out."

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, cucurrucucu paloma. Birds, music, poetry, song. What a combination they can be.

A still from Owly's movie

(One day I'll find out how to prepare a half-decent looking movie for the web)

Owly's the brother of the little creature whose face peers down from the top left of most pages on this website.

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