07. Stick to the Copla! Recovering Old Spanish Popular Songs



1. Conchita Piquer, “Ojos verdes”
(León-Valverde-Quiroga, 1931)

From: Ojos Verdes-No te mires en el río, Odeon 184.393, n.d., shellac 10″, 78 rpm.


Concha Piquer: voice; unknow orchestra.





Copla is often defined as a “sung novel.” “Ojos verdes” (Green Eyes), one of the most succesful Spanish hits, is about the passioned night of a prostitute and her beloved client. During Francoism lyrics were censored and some phrases changed in order to adjust them to the new ultra-catholic moral, but the song could not be banned due to its popularity. Here it is performed by Conchita Piquer (1908-1990), one of the most famous copla singers of all times.


2. Lola Flores, “Te lo juro yo”
(León-Quiroga, 1940)

From the movie Morena Clara (directed by Luís Lucía, 1954).


Lola Flores: voice.



Discogs (version by Sara Montiel)


This copla is one of the most often included in musical films. This version belongs to Morena clara, a typical Spanish post-war film starring Lola Flores and Fernando Fernán Gómez. Lola Flores, deceased in 1995, is still a national icon. The scene shows how tonadilleras achieve to subvert female submision promoted by official culture through powerful on screen performances.


3. Isabel Pantoja, “Marinero de luces”
(Jose Luis Perales)

From: Marinero de Luces. RCA PL35534, 1985, 33⅓ rpm


Isabel Pantoja: voice.





This song evoques the death of Isabel Panotoja’s husband, the famous bullfighter Francisco Ribera “Paquirri,” killed in a bullfight one year before. This is a beautiful example of modern copla, specially for the subject and structure of lyrics, plenty of dramatism. Isabel Pantoja likes performances with a mix of traditional elements (flamenco typical dress, gesture, voice) and modern ones (arrangements, staging) that give her a huge success.


4. Miguel Poveda, “Coplas del querer”

From: Coplas del querer. Universal 0602527284798, 2011, compact disc.


Miguel Poveda: voice; Juan Gómez “Chicuelo”: guitar.





Miguel Poveda is one of the most important young flamenco singers. Acclaimed for his classic flamenco records, in 2011 he recorded a double copla tribute album. This song is a medley of four classic coplas: “Dime que me quieres” (Tell Me You Love Me), “Y sin embargo te quiero” (But I Love You), “Vino amargo” (Sour Wine) and “Esta pena mía” (My Sadness). The video is from a live performance at the Teatro Victoria Eugenia (Donostia).


5. Martirio, “Tatuaje” (León-Quiroga, 1941)

From: Coplas de madrugá. LCD – LCD8, 1997, compact disc.


Martirio: voice; Chano Domínguez: piano;  Javier Colina: bass and accordion; Guillermo McGill: drums.





Martirio (stage name of Maribel Quiñones) works on the coplas performing them in a completely new way. The whole album is a respectful tribute to classic coplas recreated through a new sensiblity, with arrangements by flamenco-jazz pianist Chano Dominguez.


6. La Shica, “La bien pagá”
(Perelló-Mostazo, 1935)


La shica: voice; Fernando de la Rua: guitar; Miguel Rodrigáñez: bass; Pablo Martín Jones: drums; La Popi and Ana Romero: voices, hand-clapping.



La Shica website


Elsa Rovayo “The Shica” has long been professional flamenco dancer.  Recently has released two albums (Trabajito de chinos, DRO 2009; and Supercop, Warner Music Spain 2010), singing personal versions of traditional coplas mixed with rock and rap.