The big news of last week’s US election, wasn’t Obama winning, or the victories for gay marriage and women. It actually concerned Puerto Rico, that small island in the Caribbean responsible for bringing the world Ricky Martin.
The country apparently voted to become part of America, the 51st US state, although it can be argued that wasn’t actually the case. The result’s not binding, needs America’s approval and there’s likely to be another vote in 2014.
I’m sure every politician spent the campaign making great arguments for and against statehood. But one thing I’m sure they unfortunately ignored is the fact Puerto Rico has one hell of a national anthem, a song it shouldn’t trade in for the Star-Spangled Banner even if it does get them better social security benefits.
The anthem’s called La Borinqueña, and it was written by a Spaniard, Fèlix Astol i Artés, in the 1860s.
Fèlix didn’t mean it to be an anthem. He wrote it as a dance tune for rum-soaked music halls. He even gave it the name Gorgeous Brunette. And it sounds exactly like you’d expect a song with that title to sound.
It’s music full of romance and desire, a sultry rumba. It’s the type of song a composer writes after spending an evening longing for someone in a bar; the song he’d dream of impressing them with the next day, of spinning them round to.
Just have a listen to this version by the Puerto Rican opera singer, Graciela Rivera.
The anthem’s words, all about the beauty of Puerto Rico, were obviously added a lot later.
When the anthem was formally adopted in 1952, the government ordered a military version to be written – probably embarrassed by the original’s sexiness. But even that doesn’t lose all the drama.
So, yes, it’s up to you, people of Puerto Rico. Just realise what you may lose!
Apologies for the photo at the top of this post, by the way, but it fitted with the headline! The credit’s Phyllis B Dooney and it was stolen from here.