Para Vigo me voy (Say Si Si)


(above) The Lecuona Cuban Boys, dated 1940

Ernesto Lecuona

Excerpt from a piece on Cuban Artists in the United States at the website CUBA: en obras de Carlos Ripoll (“Cuba in the works of Carlos Ripoll”):

The magic of Cuban music began to captivate North Americans in 1917, when the composer and pianist, Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963), made his debut at the Aeolian Hall in New York. On that and other occasions this musician, who was admired by Paderewsky, Ravel and Rubinstein, popularized his repertoire in the United States [with] a repertoire that included “Siboney,” which was recorded by his compatriot, Rita Montaner (1900-1958), after she toured the United States with “Schubert’s Follies.” Another of Lecuona’s pieces, “Para Vigo me voy,” which literally means “I’m going to Vigo” (a city in Spain), was translated as “Say sí sí,” and was performed and danced frequently during the 1930’s. By that time, Cuban music was very well known and, in fact, bands came over from Cuba, popularizing Cuban rhythms in the principal cities of the United States. This period boasts two songs by Moisés Simons (1889-1945): “El Manisero” (“The Peanut Vendor”) — also recorded in New York and popularized worldwide by the singer Rita Montaner—, whose rhythm influenced a number of musical compositions, and “Marta,” which was popularized by the Italian tenor, Beniamino Gigli, and in different arrangements performed by various North American bands.~ Carlos Ripoll


Para Vigo me voy (m. Ernesto Lecuona, w. Francia Luban) — 1935

Lecuona Cuban Boys 2

Lecuona Cuban Boys — recorded on 31 May 1937


(above) Esther Borja con Las Hermanas Lago

Esther Borja interpreta “Para Vigo me voy” en la película “La Habana me voy” (1951)

Ester Borja interprets “Para Vigo me voy”in the 1951 film A La Habana me voy


Desi Arnaz and his Orchestra – 1946

Presently unavailable


(ab0ve) Xavier Cugat, Lina Romay, and Miguelito Valdés – 1942

From Wikipedia:

Miguelito Valdés-boxerMiguelito [Valdés] began his musical career in the Sexteto Habanero Infantil, where he played, variously, the guitar, tres, double bass, timbal and sometimes sang. Soon, his capability as a singer was realized, and from that moment he was constantly in demand. After a brief spell with María Teresa Vera’s Sexteto Occidente, he was one of the founding members of the Septeto Jóvenes del Cayo in 1929. In 1933 he moved to the charanga of Ismael Díaz, and then to the Charanga Gris, directed by the pianist and composer Armando Valdés Torres, and to the Orquesta Habana, directed by Estanislao Serviá.[2]

In 1934 he made his first journey abroad, to Panama, and on his return joined the Orquesta Hermanos Castro, which was a leading band of the day. He was their lead singer until 1936. In 1937 he joined a group of top musicians who formed the Orquesta Casino de la Playa. He was now perhaps the top singer in Cuba, on the verge of international fame. In 1939 the La Playa toured South and Central America, and started a series of recordings for RCA Victor which would make them famous throughout the world.

In 1940 Valdés briefly joined the Orquesta Riverside (another of the big Cuban bands) before emigrating to New York, which became his home base for the rest of his career. In New York he worked for Orquesta Siboney de Alberto Iznaga,Miguelito 3-f30sh7 Xavier Cugat, Tito Rodríguez and Machito. He directed his own orchestra for a few years, and made some successful recording with it in 1949/50.[3] He appeared in a number of films, and was known as ‘Mr Babalu’ after his performance of Marguerita Lecuona’s Babalú. Miguelito recorded this number with three top orchestras: Casino de la Playa in Havana, and Xavier Cugat and Machito in New York. He was regarded as one of the greatest soneros and guaracheros[4] in Cuban music. Although a white singer, his interpretation of Afro-Cuban lyrics was remarkable. He died from a heart attack during a performance in Bogota.[5]

Numbers he composed include Mondongo, Rumba rumbero, Loco de amor, Los tambores, Oh, mi tambó, Bongó, Dolor cobarde. Films he appeared in include Mi reino por un torero; Suspense, Panamericana, Imprudencia, Acapulqueña (with María Antonieta Pons), Copacabana, Mientras el cuerpo aguante, Canción para recordar and Nacido para amarte. Also listed is Bailando nace el amor (with Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth) 1942, which may be the Spanish-language version of You Were Never Lovelier.

Miguelito Valdés y Su Orquesta — date unknown


Orquesta Serenata Tropical – mid-1960s (?)


Carlos Núñez – from the album Todos Os Mundos — 2002


Say Si Si

Para Vigo me voy was transmogrified into Say Si Si, in an English language version with lyrics by Al Stillman.

Teddy Stauffer mit seinen Original Teddies, Gesang: Billy Toffel & Betty Toombs – 1938


Glenn Miller and his Orchestra – 1940


Andrews Sisters-polkadots-dm-1Andrews Sisters-02-f15

The Andrews Sisters – their first single and first hit of 1940, reaching #4 on the Billboard pop chart


Herbie Kay and his Orchestra with vocal by Ellen Connor – I’m uncertain of the date of this clip. The provider indicates that Connor left the band in 1937, and she and Kay were divorced in 1939, but the clip seems to be from a 1941 Soundie called Say Si Si.


The Mills Brothers – 1953? (possibly a later version; they had a #12 hit in 1953)


Big Bill’s New Orleans Jazz Band – Recorded at Earthquake McGoon’s, San Francisco, CA – 17 March 1969 — Big Bill Bissonnette [trombone], Kid Thomas Valentine [trumpet], Capt. John Handy [alto sax], Cyril Bennett [piano], Dick Griffith [banjo], Jim Tutunjian [string bass] Sammy Penn [drums]


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