Perfidia

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Perfidia (Alberto Domínguez Borrás) — The composer was better known as Alberto Domínguez

From Wikipedia:

Perfidia (Spanish for “perfidy”, as in faithless, treacherous or false) is a popular song written by Alberto Domínguez (1911–1975), a Mexican composer and arranger born in the state of Chiapas, about love and betrayal. Aside from the original Spanish, other renditions exist, including English and instrumental versions. The English lyrics are by Milton Leeds.

However, sheet music (right) for a version held by the Lilly Library at Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana, titled “Tonight (Perfidia)” and dated 1939, credits the English lyrics to Xavier Cugat and Will Heagney. I believe the featured performer shown on the sheet music cover is incorrectly identified at the Indiana University digital entry. The image’s caption evidently reads “featured by Pancho on the Southwestern Serenade.” The Southwestern Serenade might have been a radio program.

1939 Tonight (Perfidia)-m. Alberton Dominguez, w. Xavier Cugat, Will Heagney (2)-50pThe existence of two separate English lyrics helps to explain the fact that the word “tonight” does not appear in the lyric of the most familiar English version. The memorable opening line of the chorus of the better-known version is “To you, my heart cries out Perfidia.” According to the Indiana University Digital Library catalog entry, the first line of the chorus in the lyric credited to Cugat and Heagney is “Tonight, I see a message in your eyes, and there I find…”

Despite the lyric of the version titled “Tonight” being credited in part to Xavier Cugat, note that his 1940 hit, recorded in June 1939 as “Perfidia,” is an instrumental. A Tony Martin recording of the song under the title “Tonight” was released in 1940, on Decca 3119, but I’ve yet to hear it, and don’t know which lyric he used.

Though the publishing date is often given as 1939, the song was evidently recorded in 1937 by The San Cristobal Marimba Band with vocal by Lupita Palomera, who presumably sang the original lyric by Domínguez.

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The San Cristobal Marimba Band with vocal by Lupita Palomera — 1937 — Jazzwax.com, has an image of the label bearing Victor catalog number 75940-A, and dates the recording 1937. An archive page at the website Radiola! also lists a 1937 recording of “Perfidia” by Palomera with this band.

However, on a page from Billboard magazine dated 20 March 1948, under Advanced Record Releases (International: Latin-American), the number Victor 75940 is given for a single by L. Palomera with the sides “Desprecio” and “Perfidia.” There is no indication as to which is the A-side. Is the March 1948 promo referring to a new recording of “Perfidia,” or is this to be a reissue of an eleven year old recording?

See also the discussion at Second Hand Songs with regard to the recording and release chronology of the Lupita Palomera side.

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1939 Perfidia-Xavier Cugat-Victor 26334-(1a)

Xavier Cugat and his Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra — recorded on 12 June 1939; issued on Victor 26334, b/w “Nana”

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(below) The photo of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the video refers to the use of the song in the film Casablanca (1942), where it is played as the couple dance in a Paris nightclub during a flashback sequence.

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Lupita Palomera – 1939 — According to the bio at the site Música Popular Mexicana, Palomera was born Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico. Singing from a young age, her reputation grew within in her native state before she moved to Mexico City in 1934. A string of popular hits followed, including recordings of the standards Vereda tropical, Perfidia, Frenesí and Incertidumbre (Uncertainty). Her interpretations of these says the bio at MPM are, “arguably” for the listening public, “unsurpassed.”

There seems to be a defect in the audio. The volume of the organ music jumps from low to high once or twice early in the recording. Volume modulation is an intended effect used often throughout, but especially at 15 seconds there appears to be a defect.

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Glenn Miller Orchestra-1939-1-sm

Glenn Miller and his Orchestra with vocalists Dorothy Claire and The Modernaires – 1941

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Nat King Cole – 1959 (en Español)

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Raul de Barros — from the 1960 (some sites say 1961) album Sonho e animação em ritmo de dança, Odeon MOFB 3133

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Wikipedia claims that the 1939 recording by Xavier Cugat which became a hit in 1940 was used in three films by director Wong Kar-wai (see comment exchange below), saying,

The song was published in 1939 and became a hit for Xavier Cugat in 1940. This version was used by director Wong Kar-wai in his films Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, and 2046.

But the recording used in the following video, a tribute to the 1990 Wong Kar-wai film Days of Being Wild, has a very different arrangement than that of the 1940 1939 recording (see above). The sound quality and other aspects of the recording suggest that it’s from a considerably later date. The YouTube video provider indicates that the recording was released on the 1961 LP Viva Cugat! More significantly, a clip from Wong Kar Wai’s 2004 film 2046 that I’ve provided in a comment at the bottom of the page features the same much later recording in the soundtrack, not the 1939 recording.

1961 Viva Cugat!-Xavier Cugat and his Orch.-Mercury ‎PPS 6003

Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra — from the 1961 album Viva Cugat!, Mercury ‎PPS 6003 (Stereo), Mercury PPS 2003 (Mono)

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The Shadows – recorded October 1962, released on Out of the Shadows – 1963

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Los Tres Caballeros – (en Español) undated – This Mexican trio “from the 50s and 60s” consisted of Leonel Galvez, Roberto Cantoral, and Chamin Correa.

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Paul Mauriat et son grand orchestre –  from the album Viva Mauriat, 1968

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Chick Talli e seu Conjunto from the album Suavemente – date unknown – It is the first song of three in this medley, the others being Quiéreme Mucho and Frenesi (the last, also by Alberto Domínguez)

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The Estrada Brothers – live 1991 (en Español)

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Laura Fygi – (en Español) from her album The Latin Touch 2000

  • Noche De Ronda
  • Perfidia
  • Historia De Un Amor
  • Abrázame

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Luis Miguel — third track on his 2001 album Mis Romances

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emanuele
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 11:18:25

    Thanks for this page!
    I love this song…

    There is also an interesting play by Antonella Ruggiero: http://youtu.be/4ZLnjCuwvUU

    Reply

  2. doc
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 13:24:35

    Emanuele, Very kind of you.

    Reply

  3. Roger Johansson
    Dec 18, 2011 @ 10:11:36

    Because of your words on this page: “Wikipedia claims….” I looked up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfidia and noticed Wikipedia does not claim this. Maybe they did earlier but it has been changed. So you might want to remove that comment now, when it is no longer the case. Thank you for a very nice web site. I originally came here because of my interest in Chamin Correa and his band Los Tres Caballeros. Roger Johansson, Sweden.

    Reply

    • doc
      Dec 18, 2011 @ 12:23:09

      Roger,

      Welcome. Thanks for the comment. At the end of the first paragraph of the Wikipedia profile of the song Perfidia (link in your comment) I quote,

      “The song was published in 1939 and became a hit for Xavier Cugat in 1940. This version was used by director Wong Kar-wai in his films Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, and 2046.”

      That’s three films, in which Wikipedia claims Wong Kar-wai used the 1939 Xavier Cugat version, which was the 1940 hit. — doc

      P.S. I haven’t attempted to verify or dispute the claim. I only point out that the recording in the video is not from 1940, though it may be is evidently a Cugat recording.

      Reply

  4. doc
    Dec 18, 2011 @ 13:13:21

    Here’s a clip from Wong Kar Wai’s 2004 film 2046, in which a later Cugat recording (probably from the 1961 LP Viva Cugat!) is used, not the 1939 recording:

    Reply

  5. michael
    Nov 17, 2012 @ 06:54:57

    For heavens sake don’t miss out on Luis Miguel’s masterful interpretation!

    Reply

    • doc
      Sep 13, 2015 @ 22:48:22

      Hi Michael,

      The Luis Miguel recording from his 2001 album Mis Romances has been added. I guess I forgot to tell you. Belated thanks for the suggestion.

      Reply

  6. Bevin Chu
    Jul 25, 2014 @ 05:48:01

    Does anyone know where I can buy the sheet music for the Luis Miguel rendition of “Perfidia?” I am not begging for a freebie. I like it enough to shell out the money for it. I just want to buy the right version. If anyone knows who’s selling that version, I would appreciate a heads up! Thanks in advance.

    Reply

  7. Ernest Alvarez
    Mar 14, 2017 @ 07:42:39

    Nice, but where are the lyrics? That’s what I was searching for, the ORIGINAL English lyrics to Perfidia.

    Reply

    • doc
      Mar 14, 2017 @ 09:22:08

      Hi Ernest,

      I don’t have a copy of the alternate English lyric, the one credited to Xavier Cugat and Will Heagney. I’ve revised the text regarding this version in the page above. It now reads:

      However, sheet music (right) for a version held by the Lilly Library at Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana, titled “Tonight (Perfidia)” and dated 1939, credits the English lyrics to Xavier Cugat and Will Heagney. I believe the featured performer shown on the sheet music cover is incorrectly identified at the Indiana University digital entry. The image’s caption evidently reads “featured by Pancho on the Southwestern Serenade.” The Southwestern Serenade might have been a radio program.

      Regards,
      doc

      Reply

  8. Rachel rodriguez
    Jun 17, 2017 @ 10:05:27

    The most beautifully sung version of this song is by Javier Solis. Unsurpassed!

    Reply

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