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cairaguas in songlations

"La Gota Fría" by Emiliano Zuleta, Carlos Vives, English translation of lyrics

"The Cold Drop"
Composer: Emiliano Zuleta
Style: Vallenato
Country: Colombia


Sung by Carlos Vives at YouTube here.

[Expand embedded video]


Acordate [acuerdate] Moralito de aquel día
Que estuviste en Urumita
Y no quisiste hacer parranda.

Remember, Moralito, of that day
When you were in Urumita
And you didn't want to go partying.

Te fuiste de mañanita,
Sería de la misma rabia.


You left at the break of morning,
It must have been in the same rage.

En mis notas soy intenso.
A mi nadie me corrige.


In my notes I am intense.
Me, no one corrects.

Para tocar con Lorenzo,
Mañana sábado, día 'e [de] la Virgen.


To play (music) with Lorenzo,
Tomorrow, Saturday, Day of the Virgin. [*December 12 (a holiday)]

Me lleva él o me lo llevo yo
Pa' que se acabe la vaina.


He takes me or I take him
So that the nuisance (problem) ends.

Ay! Morales a mi no me lleva
Porque no me da la gana.
Moralito a mi no me lleva
Porque no me da la gana.

Oh! Morales cannot take me
Because I don't feel like it.
Moralito cannot take me
Because I don't feel like it.

¡Cuba! [*the country]

¿Qué cultura, qué cultura va a tener,
Un indio yumeca como Lorenzo Morales?

What culture, what culture is he going to have,
A yumeca indian like Lorenzo Morales? [*see comments]

¿Qué cultura va a tener
Si nació en los cardonales?


What culture is he going to have
If he was born in the cactus deserts?

Ay, ¡Cuba!

Morales mienta mi mamá
Solamente pa' ofender.


Morales curses my mother
Just to offend.

Para que él también se ofenda
Ahora le miento la de él.


So that he, too, will be offended
Now I curse his.


Moralito, Moralito se creía
Que él a mí, que él a mí
Me iba a ganar.

Moralito, Moralito believed (to himself)
That he, me; that he, me
Would beat/win (me).

Y cuando me oyó tocar
Le cayó la gota fría.


And when he heard me play
The cold drop fell on him.

Al cabo en la cobardía
El tiro le salió mal.


In any case, in his cowardice,
His plucks came out wrong for him.

Translation Notes:

hacer parranda = to go partying


Te fuiste de mañanita
You left at the break of morning

mañana [noun] = morning; tomorrow
mañanita + -ita suffix = just barely morning, early morning


Porque no me da la gana
Because I don't feel like it

dar la gana = to feel like (doing something)


Moralito se creía que él a mí me iba a ganar
Moralito believed (to himself) that he [subject emphasized], me [direct object emphasized], would beat (win against).

se... él a mí adds emphasis here

Reworded without emphasis:

Moralito creía que me iba a ganar
Moralito believed that he would win against me.

se creía = believed (to himself); believed (of himself); thought highly of himself


¿Qué cultura va a tener / Si nació en los cardonales?
What culture is he going to have / If he was born in the cardonales?

This part delayed the translation for a year. I was finished with everything else and just looking for an English word for cardonales (or possibly another meaning for cardenales besides the red bird and the Catholic Cardinals, in case "cardonales" is a typo). Grr.

This is what I did:

-Look up "cardenal" in RAE and other dictionaries to look for more meanings. Nothing useful.

-Look up "cardonal" in RAE. There is a Colombian (Col.) meaning that refers to a plant! A cardonal is territory populated by cardones. Okay, so it is probably not a typo.

-Click cardones to find "cardón" in RAE. Go to the last meaning, "chagual," as directed in the previous page.

-Read the description for "chagual," a Chilean word of Quechua origin. I know that "maguey" in Mexico refers to Agave plants. Maybe it's that?

-Look "chagual" up in Google Images. It looks related to Agave plants, but not any that I am familiar with.

-Look "chagual" up in Reverso.net and Babylon, hunting for English equivalents. Nothing useful.

-Leave translation alone for a year.

-Look through my requests queue and feel bad (because this was a requested song). Start searching again. Find nothing. Decide to just leave this term untranslated and explain what it means.

May 2010: "cactus desert"


Y cuando me oyó tocar / Le cayó la gota fría.
And when he heard me play / The cold drop fell on him.

gota fría = lit. cold drop (as in a water "drop," not a fall)

It is a weather term referring to cold, violent, stormy weather. See Spanish Wikipedia.

I think in this case it refers to Moralito becoming nervous and developing a cold sweat.


April 2010:
Al cabo e' [el] la compartía / El tiro le salió mal.
In any case he shared it / The shot came out wrong wrong him.

This end is mysterious to me. Since I am unclear about exactly what he means, the translation is literal. This also made me delay posting, but I decided to go ahead. Other interpretations for this line are welcome, so please comment.

May 2010:
Al cabo en la cobardía / El tiro le salió mal.
In any case, in his cowardice / His plucks came out wrong for him.

Aha! I knew something had to be wrong at the end. The original lyrics were mistrascribed.

tiro [noun] = skill, shot, throw, cast

He's nervous, so his hands are messing up the notes on his guitar. No shotguns involved. It makes much more sense this way.


The Spanish Wikipedia article on this song explains the song's context. Apparently, two rival artists of the Vallenato song genre agreed to have a music duel (un duelo musical) during a party in the town of Urumita, but Lorenzo Morales didn't show, so Emiliano Zuleta composed this song and made him look like a fool around the whole region. It is okay, though, because they eventually made up and became great friends.


translation in La Gota Fria

Hello, I don't know when did you translate this but I was looking for Carlos Vives music and found this, so,
the "cardonales" is a type of desert, like a cactus desert, so it means what education does he have if he was born in a very pour place like a desert.
Also, as a cultural quotation, a yumeca indian is a person that doesn´t have education, but only by colloquial colombian slang, because yumeca is a deformation of the word "jamaican", story says that there was a time when lots of jamaican people came to live in Colombia looking for a better way of living, so, yumeca indian means: ignorant and without education.

After that, there's a line that says:
Morales mienta mi mama solamente pa' (para) ofender;
the word "mienta" means "to curse" and is a mean word, so, when someone "mienta la mama", it means "to curse his mother".
In this song, Morales curses his mother, so in response he curses Morales' mother too.

At the last line, I always thought that it was:
Al cabo en la cobardía, el tiro le salió mal.
"After all, in the cowardice, the shot came out wrong for him"

Actually these two guys yet exist and they live in Colombia, they're in their 90's, Lorenzo Morales and Emiliano Zuleta, which is the writer of this song.

Re: translation in La Gota Fria

Oh, thank you! I posted this in April of this year a bit tentatively. I knew there were a couple cultural/historical meanings that I was missing. I figured if I just posted it, someone would know.

I didn't know that "yumeca" was derived from "jamaican." I knew it was pejorative, but that's it. The last line, too, make so much more sense now. I'll edit the main file with your suggestions. Many thanks.

Re: translation in La Gota Fria

I was just making edits and it occurs to me that we're both wrong about tiro=shot. In context, Zuleta is talking about Morales' adroitness at playing the notes on his guitar. I suppose it would literally be "in his cowardice, his plucks came out wrong for him," but that sounds awkward. Hmmm. I'll have to think about it.



I translate it his turn came out bad for him

Re: tiro

Nah. "Wrong" is better than "bad" here. "Turn," though? Maybe...
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January 2017

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