People everywhere have created music for their needs. We sing about nearly everything - especially love. There are love songs about our sweethearts, our communities and even our animals.
The UNM Center for Southwest Research’s (CSWR) Archive of Southwest Music has a wide range of song types from different cultures and countries. For New Mexico, there are recordings from Native Americans, Hispanics, Anglo-Americans, African-Americans and Asian-Americans. The CSWR archive includes the field recordings and compositions of John Donald Robb, as well as over twenty other collections. The UNM Fine Arts and Design Library has additional musical material.
Below are five examples of love songs showing the variety of music in the CSWR’s holdings.
(1945) Native American Round Dance chant and love song with English refrain, by Mike Reyna of Taos Pueblo and Paul Toya of Jemez Pueblo. Part of the Florence Hawley (Ellis) and Donovan Senter Collection of Hispanic, Isleta, and Laguna Songs, 1940-1949, MU 8 Box 1, CD 2.
These historic field recordings were made on Recordios, paper waxed disks, manufactured by the Wilcox-Gay Corporation, Charlotte, Michigan. They are wonderful examples of this early recording technology.
Lyrics: Wi ya he ya wi ni ya he yo he yo wi ya he yo wi ni ya he yo he yo. I don't care if you're married sixteen times, I'll get you. Ya he yo ha wi ya wi ya hai ya wi ya yo-o.
In 1940, Columbia Music Professor Willard Rhodes recorded three love songs sung by the Boys Chorus of the Santa Fe Indian School. He noted that the “boys and young men have had fun making new love songs with English words, which they sing for the Round Dance.” The Round Dance is a social and friendship dance and all are welcome to join in. The CSWR 1945 recording is an example of this same song innovation. He added, “no one knows who made the songs, but Taos Pueblo appears to be the center for their diffusion.” “The use of English words within the chant has not affected the Indian character of the melodies,” concluded Rhodes.
Round Dance - San Geronimo Day
Here are the English refrains heard within the song chants that Rhodes recorded: "When the dance is over sweetheart, I will take you home in my one-eyed Ford. My sweetheart she got mad at me because I said hello to my old timer. But it's just ok with me. Oh yes I love you honey dear. I don't care if you're married sixteen times I'll get you." Introduction to North American Indian Music by Willard Rhodes, Library of Congress, AFS L36, 1954, p. 15.
Composed and sung by Eddie Gallegos, recorded by John Donald Robb in 1952, in Albuquerque. Part of the John Donald Robb Field Recordings, MU 7 CD 32 Track 32. Eddie Gallegos is singing about the señorita he met one night in Albuquerque, the land of romance. The song recording, lyrics and melody are in the CSWR New Mexico Digital Collection.
Cowboy song, composition by Leonard Cohen (1979), sung by Frank McCulloch, 2014. Bilingual, English and Spanish. Part of the Frank McCulloch Collection of Spanish New Mexican, Mexican and American Music, MSS 956 BC, Box 1, CD 1.
Frank McCulloch is a well-known Albuquerque musician and landscape painter. He sings in Spanish and English and sometimes blends the languages together as in this ballad. You can see Frank’s own translations for the song below. Who doesn’t know the emotion of searching for a beloved pet that has wandered off. Frank has made the ballad a delight to enjoy.
Frank's Spanish lyrics for the "Ballad of the Absent Mare"
Written by Stevie Wonder (1970), performed by Broadstreet, Juneteenth Band, at the Juneteenth Celebration, First Plaza in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 15, 1985. Part of the Shirley Ann Griffin-Martin Recordings of Albuquerque African American Music and Programs, 1985-1988, MSS 835 BC, Box 1, CD 2, Song No. 25.
As a UNM Fine Arts Library work-study student, Shirley Ann Griffin (Martin) was inspired by the books and music resources in the archives. She saw that much of the Albuquerque Black African American culture was being lost with the passing of our senior citizens and wanted to collect some of that history in music. “Music is key in all types of gatherings, reflecting the mood of and the reason for the occasion," said Shirley. She recorded a variety of celebrations and programs from 1985-1988 and donated them to the music archive. How well her recordings show the importance of music to the African American community.
An Albuquerque Laotian community song, sung during a program honoring the Virgin Mary in Albuquerque, November 21, 1981. The performers are Chinnavony on Khene, Somyen Saiyarath, Bouamy Phetdare, Manlika Lengsavath, Khantaly Sanoubane, with host Monica Gabou. Part of the James B. Wright Collection of Southwestern Native American, Hispanic and Asian American Music, Interviews and Literary Programs, 1973-1986, MSS 829 BC, Box 2, CD 49.
Song titles in Laotian and English