Lamento Borincano

by Elena Martínez

In 1927 Hernández started a music store with his sister, Victoria. The legend has it that the song "Lamento borincano" was composed there. According to Rafael:

. . . Un día en que se está bruja y llueve mucho, uno de mis compañeros tenía una botella de ron de Puerto Rico, A medida que nos pasábamos la botella, se agolpaban los recuerdos de nuestra islita y nuestras mentes volaban a los soleadas playas de la tierra distante. Las palmeras y todas las cosas bellas de allá. Se no aparecían ese día como la imagen del Paraíso. La nostalgia de esta fría tarde de tristeza atraía mis dedos hacia el piano casi desmantelado que había en el rincón y comencé a tocar la melodía del "Lamento borincano" (Rico Salazar 1999: 191).

Canario became the first of many singers and bands to record it. Composed during the Great Depression "Lamento borincano" is considered his most famous song.


"Lamento Borincano" by Canario y su grupo (c.1930's)

Lamento Borincano 1929

During this time Puerto Rican musicians composed other songs that also are considered standards in the repertoire of popular music and have become unofficial anthems among the Puerto Rican community, such as Lamento Borincano by Hernández and "Sin Bandera" by Pedro Flores. Music historian Jorge Javaríz comments upon their music: The bulk of what we call popular Puerto Rican music was written and recorded in New York. Puerto Rico is the only Latin American country whose popular music was mainly created on foreign soil. The curious thing about this phenomenon is that it was precisely in those years that the popular Puerto Rican song became more Puerto Rican than it has ever been before or since" (Glasser 1995: 90).

Content credits Center for Puerto Rican Studies
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