Perfidia (Alberto Domínguez Borrás) — The composer was better known as Alberto Domínguez
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.* The song was published in 1939 and became a hit for Xavier Cugat in 1940.
Perfidia has been recorded by many artists, including Julie London, Charlie Parker, Laurel Aitken, Mel Torme, Olavi Virta, Café Tacuba, Glenn Miller, Nana Mouskouri, King Tubby, Phyllis Dillon, The Shadows, The Ventures, Linda Ronstadt, Nat King Cole, Cliff Richard, Lawrence Welk…[read more]
* However, note that sheet music (above, right) for a version by Pancho and the Southwestern Serenade, titled “Tonight (Perfidia),” and dated 1939 at Indiana University Digital Library, credits the English lyrics to Xavier Cugat and Will Heagney. The existence of two separate English lyrics helps to explain the fact that the word “tonight” (the title of the Pancho and Southwestern Serenade version) 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.
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.
Xavier Cugat and his Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra — recorded on 12 June 1939; issued on Victor 26334, b/w “Nana”
(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.
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.
Glenn Miller and his Orchestra with vocalists Dorothy Claire and The Modernaires – 1941
Nat King Cole – 1959 (en Español)
Raul de Barros — from the 1960 (some sites say 1961) album Sonho e animação em ritmo de dança, Odeon MOFB 3133
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.
Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra — from the 1961 album Viva Cugat!, Mercury PPS 6003 (Stereo), Mercury PPS 2003 (Mono)
The Shadows – recorded October 1962, released on Out of the Shadows – 1963
Los Tres Caballeros – (en Español) undated – This Mexican trio “from the 50s and 60s” consisted of Leonel Galvez, Roberto Cantoral, and Chamin Correa.
Paul Mauriat et son grand orchestre – from the album Viva Mauriat, 1968
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)
The Estrada Brothers – live 1991 (en Español)
- Estrada Brothers website: http://www.estradabrothers.com/
- Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/EstradaBrothers
Laura Fygi – (en Español) from her album The Latin Touch – 2000
- Noche De Ronda
- Historia De Un Amor
Luis Miguel — third track on his 2001 album Mis Romances