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Los californios

Flowers of Our Lost Romance

With Los californios®

Música antigua de alta California

Songs and Dance Music of 19th-Century Mexican California:
60-minute album on CD or cassette

CD Item Number: CD-010 FLO      $15.00

Cassette Item Number: CAS-010 FLO      $10.00

Contents | Notes | Details about the pieces | Lyrics | Music Samples

Los Californios® Flowers of Our Lost Romance Album Cover

This album is dedicated to the memory of
Albert S. Pill: June 12, 1924 — June 12, 1998.
Thanks for everything, Professor Pill.

Click here for order form.

On this recording you will hear:

David Swarens — guitar
Vykki Mende Gray — fiddle and vocals
Janet Martini — accordion and vocals
Janet Ashford — violín
David Kelly — guitarrón and vocals
Peter DuBois — guitar and mandolin

Recorded at Spragueland. Cover designed by Janet Ashford.

Special thanks to the The Autry Museum: Southwest Museum Campus for making its wonderful collections available to us, and for encouraging our efforts.

Flowers of Our Lost Romance — Contents

CD Label

  1. El capotín (5:25)
  2. El sombrero blanco (4:22)
  3. Los camotes (4:19)
  4. La contradanza de Sonoma (2:03)
  5. Vals de Milán (6:01)
  6. ¡Ay, Susana! (2:05)
  7. La contradanza de Monterey (2:28)
  8. Adiós, adiós amores (3:44)
  9. La varsoviana (3:08)
  10. Mi Pepa (4:49)
  11. La hamaca (5:05)
  12. El californio vals jota (2:55)
  13. Es el amor mariposa (5:16)
  14. El borrego (1:44)
  15. La mágica mujer (2:38)
  16. La despedida de Monterey (3:40)

Flowers of Our Lost Romance — Notes

Los californios CD photo

Album Notes by Vykki Mende Gray

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away and a time not so long ago, a scattered population of racially mixed pioneer settlers sought paradise. The land was called alta California, the time was the heyday of the California missions and ranchos from the 1770s through the 1840s, and the people called themselves californios. The rancho homes were far apart, so a visit was an event. Friends and relatives from far and wide might gather together at a rancho for singing, dancing, dining and visiting.

Although related to both, this California music is not Mexican and it is not Spanish. Some pieces did come to California with settlers coming from Mexico before 1848, bringing with them their already diverse heritage from Spanish, indigenous Mexican and African roots. Some pieces came from other southwestern Hispanic and Native American settlements, such as those in New Mexico, through trade and marriage. Other pieces were written here, some came from the traditions of the local Native American musicians, and some came with trade from passing ships.

With the coming of the American period and the sudden immigration of great quantities of people from other places, the culture and heritage of the californios began fading away into the new dominant culture.

In 1903 Charles Fletcher Lummis, a transplanted Californian who became a champion of the Southwest and its Native American and Hispanic cultures, took on an immense project. With his charter in hand for the Southwest Society, a chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America, he purchased an Edison wax cylinder recording machine and proceeded to “catch our archaeology alive” by recording the disappearing songs of the californios and Native Americans. He recorded californio descendants singing hundreds of songs, and those Edison wax cylinders still extant now reside at the Southwest Museum in Highland Park. In writing of his project, Lummis described these pieces as the “flowers of our lost romance,” hence the title of our album.

Some of the same informants from whom Lummis collected songs were also informants for dances from Mexican California, allowing tunes and dances to survive in dance circles through the several romantic revival periods in California.

The link with historic californio families was still strong when Charles Lummis began recording songs in 1903. As examples:

Doña Adalaida Cordero Higuera Kamp — an informant who recorded 65 pieces for Lummis — was descended from the Higuera family and grew up learning songs in the household where José de la Rosa, known affectionately as Don Pepe, resided. Don Pepe, sometimes credited with being California’s first professional printer, came to California in 1833 with the Híjar-Padrés party. He was also a popular musician, singer and composer who protected his material jealously so his competitors would not learn it. But he was impressed with the musical talent of the young Adalaida, and at his death he willed her his wordbook of songs carefully written out in his own hand. Doña Adalaida in turn transcribed the words to her own songs, leaving both her typewritten wordbooks and Don Pepe’s wordbook in the archives of the Southwest Museum.

The californio family of Rosa and Luisa Villa came to alta California from Baja California in 1846. These informants also played dance tunes on the mandolin and guitar.

Nena and Susie del Valle, who taught Lummis traditional californio dances as well as songs, were from the californio family that owned Rancho Camulos. The del Valle family recorded 22 pieces for Lummis. Click here for sheet music of all the Rancho Camulos pieces.
Other resources we have used in recreating the sound of californio music include the recordings of the The Mexican Players at the Padua Hills Theatre, Danzas de alta California — recorded by Gabriel Eulogius Ruiz y Los cuates, and the personal research and recordings of Al Pill, who dedicated much of his life to keeping californio and Mexican traditional dance alive.

This album, Flowers of Our Lost Romance, is but a small sample of the rich secular music heritage of California from this time when California was part of Mexico.

Flowers of Our Lost Romance — Details about the pieces

  1. El capotín (5:25)

    “... a catchy little tune, known to all Spaniards” is how Gilbert Chase described this folk song in his book, The Music of Spain, 1941. Even today it is one of the most widely recognized pieces of those collected from californio informants, known not only to Spaniards but also to persons from throughout Latin America, who delight in singing along. In 1904 Charles Fletcher Lummis recorded Mercedes García and Mrs. Melsing singing El capotín, and also documented it from Rosa and Luisa Villa. Unfortunately, only Arthur Farwell’s transcriptions of those recordings seem to have survived. We first heard this at Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara sung by Elizabeth Erro Hvolboll. The title refers to a type of rain cloak commonly made from tulles or palm fronds.

  2. El sombrero blanco (4:22)

    The lyrics accompanying this dance were collected by Lummis from two different californio informants in 1904: Doña Adalaida Kamp and Porfirio Rivera. Some of the verses reflect the song type in which impossible feats are demanded of a would-be wooer, who meets the demands with word play rather than exertion. The chorus reflects, in nursery rhyme style, the political rivalries of previous generations — with hat ribbons of white or blue denoting which camp one claims. In the 1940 movie The Mask of Zorro, Tyrone Powers wins the heart of his intended while dancing to this tune. Our version is also influenced by renditions recorded by the Mexican Players of Padua Hills Theatre and Los cuates, and we learned a wonderful version of the dance from Al Pill.

  3. Los camotes (4:19)

    This californio dance from the late 1700’s is described lovingly in Don Antonio Franco Coronel’s 1877 memoirs about californio life in the period from 1834 to 1850. The lyrics make good-natured though humorous commentary on Franciscan life. As in many californio dances, the dancers would sing the words while they danced. Helen Hunt Jackson, the author of Ramona, claimed that Don Antonio was the best waltzer in Los Angeles. Coronel’s memoirs, Cosas de California, are in the Bancroft Library in Berkeley. A 1904 recording of Porfirio Rivera singing this piece is included in the Lummis collection of Edison wax cylinders.

    Also, check out the programs for La Fiesta Anual de Mayo at the Southwest Museum’s Casa de Adobe. The 1938 program says of this piece, “This dance was first taught as a religious rite and later evolved into the dance now portrayed,” while the 1940 program claims the piece was “taught the Mission Indians by the padres.” These annual fiestas were organized by californio descendent Isabel C. Lopez de Fages.

  4. La contradanza de Sonoma (2:03)

    The contra dance was done in waltz time in Mexican California using figures familiar to contra dances and running sets from other areas, and adding California’s own variations with complicated knots and figures referencing and illustrating religious concepts. We again have the the Mexican Players of Padua Hills Theatre to thank for preserving this piece.

  5. Vals de Milán (6:01)

    Milán refers not to a town in Italy, but rather to the dashing young man who goes flying in a hot air balloon — and invites enchanted young ladies to join him. One part of the song still has currency both in Spain and Argentina:

          Yo te daré cuando tú sepas querer —
          te daré, te daré, vida mía,
          una cosa que yo solo sé.

          I will give you, when you know how to love —
          I will give you, my beloved,
          something that I alone know.

    At which point the crowd yells: “¡Café!” (Coffee!)

    Francisco Amate recorded this for Lummis in 1904.

  6. ¡Ay, Susana! (2:05)

    There are still californio descendants who remember hearing these old songs from their grandparents. At the San Pasqual Battlefield one year we were fortunate to meet one of those descendants, who brought us this californio version of Stephen Foster’s gold rush favorite.

  7. La contradanza de Monterey (2:28)

    Another californio contra dance, this dance could be done either with two lines of dancers facing each other, or with the lines arranged as the inside and outside rings of a circle. The Padua Hills Orchestra is our source for this piece.

  8. Adiós, adiós amores (3:44)

    Lummis recorded this beautiful song in 1904 from the duet singing of Rosa and Luisa Villa, and also from Manuela García singing to the guitar accompaniment of Rosendo Uruchurtu. It recounts the eternal story of the jilted lover who will get even — by leaving. “See how you like that! You won’t have me to kick around any more. No more love for me.” This song was one of Lummis’ favorites, and it was sung for his funeral in 1928.

  9. La varsoviana (3:08)

    The woman from Warsaw. Although one could be excommunicated for dancing the waltz (and this version of this piece includes a waltz section in the third part), this was nevertheless a popular dance — not only in rancho-era California but worldwide. Lummis collected the words from Nena del Valle Cram in 1904, and from time to time we still run into people who sang these words in their youth, both in California and in Mexico. Our tune is greatly inspired by the rendition of the Padua Hills Orchestra.

  10. Mi Pepa (4:49)

    A piece that retains a strong Spanish flavor even in its New World surroundings, Lummis collected Mi Pepa in 1904 from both Manuela García and Nena del Valle Cram. The flirty young Pepa seems to have been a young man’s dream — high born, but walks with a wriggle!

  11. La hamaca (5:05)

    “I have my hammock hung by the edge of the sea, and my hut hidden in the banana field.” Rosa and Luisa Villa recorded this for Lummis in 1904.

  12. El californio vals jota (2:55)

    Another wonderful dance tune preserved through recordings of The Mexican Players at Padua Hills Theatre, and also recorded as La jota vieja by Gabriel Eulogius Ruiz with Los cuates. Don Antonio Coronel’s memoirs describe the jota as the favorite popular dance, with dancers filling all the available space. The two facing lines that started the dance resolved into a double circle as men and women proceeded in opposite directions around the room.

  13. Es el amor mariposa (5:16)

    “Love is a butterfly — it flits from one flower to the next.” Lummis recorded Manuela García and Rosendo Uruchurtu singing this beautiful old tango in 1904.

  14. El borrego (1:44)

    Also described by Antonio Coronel, this dance utilized the convention of a handkerchief to avoid actual physical contact by the dancers, and further played on the convention by using the handkerchief to mimic a bullfighter. Our friend, Al Pill, taught us this dance. It is one of the many californio and Mexican dances that are still remembered through his efforts. The song and its accompanying dance are closely related to an old Mexican song-dance called Los enanos.

  15. La mágica mujer (2:38)

    Manuela García sang for Lummis, in 1904, this song of a magical woman who bewitched merely with her look.

  16. La despedida de Monterey (3:40)

    Another piece from Lummis’ wax cylinders, this song illustrates the isolation of a community reached most easily by long and uncertain sea trips. The lyrics speak of a lover about to be separated from the object of his affections by one of those trips. Doña Adalaida Higuera Cordero Kamp, who also called it Último adiós a mi amante, recorded it in 1904. The words are included in José de la Rosa’s wordbook. The tune is the same as that of an old Russian song, on a similar topic, called Razluka.

Flowers of Our Lost Romance — Words/Letra (Click here for printable version)

El capotín
  1. Yo soy firme para amarte
    y constante en el querer.
    ¡Qué trabajos pasa a un hombre
    cuando quiere a una mujer! (bis)

  2. Estribillo:
    Con el capotín, tín, tín, tín,
    que esta noche va a llover.
    Con el capotín, tín, tín, tín,
    ¿qué será al amanecer? (bis)

  3. ¡Qué trabajos pasa a un hombre
    cuando empieza a enamorar!
    Toma vino. Se emborracha.
    Y se acuesta sin cenar. (bis)

  4. No me mates. No me mates
    con pistola ni puñal.
    Mátame con tus ojitos,
    o esos labios de coral.
El sombrero blanco
  1. Si quieras que yo te quiera
    mande enladrillar el mar,
    y después de enladrillado,
    soy tuya y puedes mandar.

    Es posible, padre mío,
    que me sí es a padecer,
    y que vaya a pasar trabajos
    por faltando de la mujer.

  2. Estribillo:
    ¿Quieres que te ponga
    mi sombrero blanco?
    ¿Quieres que te ponga
    mi sombrero azul?
    ¿Quieres que te siente
    mi vida en un trono
    para que te cante
    el tu-run tun-tun,
    el tu-run tun-tun?

  3. La cal está en la lancha,
    la arenita en el mar.
    Y los peces son los ladrillos —
    ya está enladrillado el mar.

    Las aguas cojo por el agua.
    Las arenas por la sal.
    Y los peces son los ladrillos —
    ya está enladrillado el mar.

  4. Si quieras que yo te quiera,
    ha de ser de condición —
    que lo tuyo ha de ser mío
    y lo mío tuyo no.

    Si quieras que yo te quiera
    mande enladrillar el mar,
    y después de enladrillado,
    soy tuya y puedes mandar.
Los camotes
  1. Los frailes de San Francisco
    sembraron un camotal. (bis)

    Y tanto que levantaron,
    llenaron la catedral. (bis)

    Camotes, y más camotes,
    calabacitas, chilicayota,
    naranja dulce, limón partido —
    dame un abrazo de amor, te pido.

    Ámame, por Dios, que te ruego.

  2. Los camotes se perdieron.
    Los salieron a buscar. (bis)

    veinticinco ganaderos,
    los cabos y un oficial. (bis)

    Ámame, por Dios, que te ruego.
    Ámame, por Dios, que te pido.

  3. Las monjas de San Francisco
    se comieron un camote. (bis)

    Les hizo tanto daño
    que les hizo andar en trote. (bis)

    Tréboles, tréboles
    con pimentorio,
    azúcar y clavo y canelorio. (bis)

    A Dios, a Dios,
    a Dios adoremos. (bis)
Vals de Milán

Vente conmigo a vivir
hechicera del corazón.
Yo te haré la mujer más feliz
que en el mundo he podido ver yo. (bis)

Yo te daré cuando tú sepas amar,
te daré, te daré, vida mía,
una cosa que te ha de gustar.

Yo te daré cuando tú sepas querer,
te daré, te daré, vida mía,
una cosa que yo sólo sé.

Cuando Milán de Valencia se marchó,
con grande afán de todos se despidió.
Y su mamá, llorando, le dice — ¡adiós!
¡Adiós, Milán de mi vida —
Milán de mi corazón.

¿Cuántas pollitas habrán
que a su mamá le dirán
— Mamá, yo me quiero ir
en el globo con Milán? (bis)

(alternate last part)
El día quince de mayo
cuando Milán se embarcó,
las pollitas de Valencia
todas le dicen — ¡Adiós! (bis)

¡Ay! Susana
  1. La Susana se paseaba
    en un buque de vapor,
    y lloraba por su amante,
    y lloraba por su amor.

    ¡Ay! Susana,
    no llores por mí,
    porque voy a California
    a traer oro para ti.

  2. Poco tiempo San Francisco,
    poco tiempo Mazatlán,
    y volveré muy rico
    con dinero pa’ gastar.

  3. La Susana se paseaba
    en un buque de vapor,
    y lloraba por su amante,
    y lloraba por su amor.
¡Adiós, adiós, amores!
  1. ¡Adiós, adiós, amores!
    ¡Adiós! porque me ausento
    de tanto sentimiento
    que tú me has dado a mí. (bis)

    Por eso ya no quiero
    amar más en la vida.
    A mi patria querida
    me voy a retirar.

  2. Tú prometes dulzuras,
    y sólo das pesares.
    Lágrimas a millares
    se derraman por ti. (bis)

    Y de tu cruel saeta
    la herida está curada.
    No más sacrificada
    verás mi libertad.

  3. Desconsuelos y penas,
    angustias y dolores
    a tus adoradores
    no más les sabes dar. (bis)

    Por eso ya no quiero
    amar más en la vida.
    A mi patria querida
    Me voy a retirar. (bis)
La varsoviana

— Varsoviana, varsoviana,
¿quién le trujo aquí?
— Yo solita, yo solita
vine a dar aquí.

El puro maíz, el puro maíz,
el puro maíz sin sal.
Al puro maíz, al puro maíz,
al puro maíz azul.

Mi Pepa
  1. Quiero a mi Pepa y no es broma,
    porque es hembra muy formal.
    Ella me hace delirar
    si a la ventana se asoma.

    Y toma. Y toma.
    Dame en tu pico, paloma,
    un granito de tu sal.
    Vales más que el mundo entero.
    ¡Ay! salero, ven acá.

  2. Soy más duro que una peña,
    y mi Pepa me deshace
    con la mueca que me hace
    y el ojito que me guiña.

    Y toma. Y toma.
    Dame en tu pico, paloma,
    un granito de tu sal.
    Vales más que el mundo entero.
    ¡Ay! salero, ven acá.

  3. No hay otra hembra en Sevilla
    de más rango y más meneo,
    ni de tanto zarandeo
    como tiene mi Pepilla.

    Y chilla. Y chilla.
    Por Dios, niña, no me riñas.
    Ni me hagas enfadar.
    Vales más que el mundo entero.
    ¡Ay! salero, ven acá.
[alternate verse 2]
  Soy más duro que una peña,
  y mi Pepa me deshace
  con un ojo que me arrima
  y una mueca que me hace.
La hamaca
  1. Tengo mi hamaca tendida
    en la orilla del mar,
    y mi cabaña escondida
    en medio de un platanal.

    Sombra me da el bosque.
    Brisa me da el mar.
    Trinos el cenzontle —
    ¡qué bello es amar!

    ¡Qué bella es la vida!
    Meciendo se va,
    cual mi hamaca tendida
    de aquí para allá,
    de allá para acá.

  2. Recuerdos traigo en el alma
    que me hacen mucho sufrir.
    No me los mires con calma
    porque me siento el morir.

    Dame tú el alivio
    a mi cruel penar.
    Calma mi martirio.
    No me hagas llorar.

    Ven que entre mis brazos
    te quiero arrullar
    con el dulce murmullo
    del agua del mar,
    del agua del mar.
Es el amor mariposa
  1. Es el amor mariposa,
    que a la salida del sol
    extiende sus blancas alas
    y vuela de flor en flor.
    Es el amor un jilguero
    que busca su nuevo placer
    y manda sus dulces cantos
    a la primera que ve.

    Por eso, morena mía,
    cuando te vi
    te dije que te quería
    con frenesí.
    Y si mi negra me dice
    lo que yo sé,
    verás, verás que felices
    vamos a ser, vamos a ser.

  2. Es el amor como niño —
    caprichoso y juguetón
    que por un juguete nuevo
    desprécialo que le sirvió.
    En este mundo, paloma,
    todo pasa tan veloz
    que nos deja saboreando
    aquella que nos gustó.

    Por eso, si no te enoja
    este cantar,
    esa, tu boquita roja —
    ábrela ya.
    Y si mi negra me dice
    lo que yo sé,
    verás, verás que felices
    vamos a ser, vamos a ser.

El borrego

Señora, su borreguito
me quiere llevar al río.
Y yo le digo que no,
porque me muero de frío.

Sale la linda. Sale la fea,
y el borreguito con su zalea.
Sale el negrito con su garrote,
y el borreguito con su zalea.

Tope que tope — tope con ella.
Tope que tope — tope con él.

La mágica mujer

Una linda mágica mujer
me encantó con solo su mirar.
¿Es visión o no sé qué?
¿O es tan solo
un angel sin igual? (bis)

Con un beso ardiente que me dio
con sus labios de coral
me mató — me mató. ¡Ay!

Todito su amor a mi me lo entregó.
En mis brazos yo tenía
reclinada a mi María.

Vente, niña.Vente.
Yo quiero darte besos mil y mil.
Que el que te adora siempre será
tuyo y para ti.

La despedida de Monterey
  1. Ya la barca está en el puerto
    esperando mi salida,
    y un — ¡adiós! — a mi querida
    tan sólo me resta dar.

    No me olvides, linda Rosa,
    aunque yo de ti me ausento.
    Ten piedad de mi tormento.
    No me vayas a olvidar.

    ¡Adiós! ¡Adiós!
    ¡adiós, mi querida, adiós!
    ¡Adiós! ¡Adiós!
    ¡adiós, mi querida, adiós!

  2. Nunca creas que yo te olvide
    siempre que seas consecuente,
    y aseguro que mi mente
    sólo en ti se ocupará.

    Recibe la despedida
    de un amante que te adora,
    y una lágrima que llora
    te dará el último ¡adiós!

    ¡Adiós! ¡Adiós!
    ¡adiós, mi querida, adiós!
    ¡Adiós! ¡Adiós!
    ¡adiós, mi querida, adiós!

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