Lyrics in salsa music

Does anybody really listen to them or get motivated by them? In the 70's, (my time period), I can tell you it was like soul music, we couldn't wait for the next hit to come out to tell us how we should be living. That changed in the 80's when all they talked about is how we shouldn't be living. So today is there any positive, uplifting, spiritual message in salsa music. I haven't heard of any.


Son Montuno
Being an English speaking forum, I suspect that the lyrics are secondary for a lot of people here..... but there are those of us who like lyrics, we had some threads on it in the past, i cant find them now.
I like lyrics, but they don't have to change the world for me to like them, as long as the song is good and the lyrics are entertaining.

im interested to know which songs which sticks out for you as being particularly good lyrically
There are quite a few Matty, & I agree they don't have to change the world for me either. Most just kind of emphasized a subtlety that we never really thought about or noticed or put together in that context. There are so many stories in Salsa, mostly music of the 60's, 70's & 80's. Ruben Blades comes to mind as a great story teller, but unfortunately a lot of his music in my opinion doesn't classify as salsa, it is mostly tropical music. Except when he worked with Willie Colon & Fania. But I do consider it soulful because it will make you wonder if it is true. It may talk about experiences with woman or how they are. Others may talk about how people are in general. At other times there may be a personal subtlety that is pointed out, that at the time you maybe haven't put words into describing it. Do you know what I mean Matty? I think I remember you saying that your Spanish is quite well.

Then there are the double message songs usually related to sex or parts of sexual anatomy which can be very humorous.
Matty just as an example, El jibaro y la naturaleza, Bobby Valentin with Marvin Santiago singing about how the Jibaro cries seeing nature being destroyed by "progress". I was in Puerto Rico the first time in 1981 & the last time in 1997, and has it changed, so this is kind of personal to me.

Another song that is kind of personal to me, I had a tumor about 6 years ago & when I found out I thought about my mortality for the first time in my life. So when this song come on by Bobby Valentin also it would actually bring me to tears, fortunately my tumor was not malignant.

But this song, "Yo no quiero morirme todavia" iI still hold dear to my heart.

Actually Marvin Santiago did a version of " no quiero morir me todavia" in Bobby Valentin's 35th anniversary "Vuelve a la carcel recording that I heard more, because I knew Marvin Santiago had diabetes & got amputated from it and I felt sang it from the heart because he was living it. Check this version out,

Cesta all stars featuring Cheo Feliciano, "no hace falta papel,. Talking about how if you got it you don't need lyrics to improvise. This hit home just today. My son of 15 years old was assigned a project along with a group of 5 in world history to do a rap video. Well he goes to an all white school & has no interest or clue what rap is. So I sat him down & probably told him something very racist but very true. The rest of his group were all whites including one female who were never exposed to anything that wasn't white. So I told my son, "Listen son, as bad as you do, you have to do better than the rest of your group, because you have a mixture of White, Indian & Black, so you should have natural rhythm that they probably don't have. He ended up making up new lyrics to an existing rap tune, singing it on video & playing saxophone on video. Then putting all 3 parts together and making a rap video with sax that sounded hell of impressive & I am very critical of music as you all know. Anyway "no hace falta papel" reminded me of this.

This is very obscure to most "La Plena Boricua", but when I was young this Willie Colon tune came out with Mon Rivera, "El Trabalenguas", and I felt it solved my problem with girls. It may not have, but it gave me new insight. Because I was struggling with going after girls that didn't want me & having girls chase me that I didn't want, so "Pena de amor" was my DR. Ruth back then.

Frankie Ruiz, "La Cura", I have been married twice & had numerous relationships in between. Well when there are problems in a relationship & you are a male who either drinks alcohol or consumes drugs, you may want to consume more during rough times in your relationship. I have always been an athlete working out year long. But I will drink on weekends & back in the 80's when Scarface came out, it was the thing to do cocaine, so I dabbled in it. Well I used to put this song on before I would either drink excessively or do Coke. I never did a lot of Coke because I am very high strung & it was like poison to me, even coffee or coca cola would keep me from sleeping. But this song dealt with addiction & how problems in a relationship would make things worse. Funny how sometimes the message gets lost in the "coolness" of it all. Like when superfly or scarface came out, 2 movies that showed you clearly that cocaine was a dead end yet they were probably responsible for the cocaine boom, because they were so cool. Anyway la cura promoted drug or alcohol use to the young & naive.

Or another Frankie Ruiz tune that deals with drug dealers, "Como lo hacen". Back in the days salsa & cocaine went hand in hand, so I knew a lot of drug dealers & this was like their anthem. I thank God I never got more wrapped up in this world. So who said Frankie Ruiz is romantica? LOL

When I broke up in a relationship, (especially when cheating was involved), this was my venting song. I would sometimes play it for hours end on end. And by the way this song is gender neutral, because Justo & Celia both throw back & forth. this may not mean nothing to most, but I found solace in the lyrics & strength to just chill. Johnny Pacheco with Justo Betancourt & Celia Cruz.

Don't know if any of you have been in situations where danger was around. well this song deals with that, whether it be, being in the wrong part of town or being in an illegal transaction that is about to go south. Being able to "smell" trouble may be the only thing that saves you. Growing up in a black ghetto, this came up often. so, Cuando me van a tirar me la huelo", Jose Bello.


DJ Yuca

Son Montuno
Great stuff Rick! Point of interest: Superfly the movie blatantly glorifies drug dealing. The story goes that Curtis Mayfield signed the contract to do the soundtrack on the assumption that it would be anti-drugs, then saw some clips whilst the movie was in progress and was horrified, so he specifically made the soundtrack to be as anti-drugs as possible. Hence the film and its soundtrack being at complete odds with each other. “Curtis felt ‘Superfly’ was a commercial to sell cocaine, and he wanted to turn that around.” (Mayfield’s widow, Altheida.)
Ok on the spiritual side, I call this Puerto Rican Jihad, because it deals with San Lazaro calling you and you giving your life to him for protection against all your enemies. And it deals with bombs being thrown at you and you having protection that can't touch you. I am not into Santeria or into any organized religion. But I feel just the same that I am protected from all evil, so this song gives me the feeling of strength in my convictions.

Yuca, I will have to admit, Superfly got me into long trenches and wide brim fedoras & platforms back then, but Scarface what was what got me into Coke. I was only 16 when superfly came out, dso that may be why.

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