If you’re a fan of Latin music, you’ve likely sung the words of Armando Manzanero or hummed his melodies.
The Mexican singer/songwriter, who died Monday (Dec. 28) at 85 years old, penned more than 400 songs, many essential to the Latin American songbook.
Here are 10 favorites:
Manzanero wrote the sweetly innocent “Somos Novios” (We’re boyfriend and girlfriend, because we both feel mutual, profound love) in 1968. The purity of the lyrics connected at a global scale. While the English adaptation of the song — “It’s Impossible” by Sid Wayne — changed the lyrics (It’s impossible, tell the sun to leave the sky, it’s just impossible), the notion of enduring love remained. When Perry Como recorded “It’s Impossible,” it became his first song to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 in more than 12 years. “It’s Impossible” received a 1971 Grammy nomination for song of the year, while Como’s album of the same name was nominated for best pop vocal performance, male. “It’s Impossible” was also recorded by Elvis Presley, Andy Williams, Shriley Bassey and Andre Bocelli, among many others. In Spanish, “Somos Novios” remains one of the most covered Spanish language songs of all time.
“Esta Tarde Vi Llover”
The opening line — “This afternoon I saw the rain, I saw people running, but you weren’t there” — ensured “Esta Tarde” a place among Billboard’s 50 Best Latin Songs of All Time. Hugely popular in Latin America, it was covered in English by Tony Bennett under the title “Yesterday I Heard the Rain,” also the title of his 1968 album. Below, find Bennett performing a Spanglish duet of the song with Alejandro Sanz from 2011’s Duets II album.
There are more than 70 recordings of this song — including instrumental versions — penned by Manzanero in 1967. Check out this cumbia version from Bronco.
Originally written by Manzanero in 1968, the song was reprised most famously by Luis Miguel in his seminal album Romance of 1991, where he covered great boleros. Manzanero, who co-produced the album, curated a gem that included compositions by many other writers.
“No Se Tú”
Also part of Romance, “No Se Tú” was achingly vulnerable in its lyrics of loss. “I miss you so, so much; I don’t know about you.” The second single from Romance, it topped Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart in 1992.
The song was recorded by a vast array of artists in many styles, ranging from Trío Los Panchos in the 1960s to Alejando Fernández.
“Nada Personal” (Nothing Personal)
The song was penned by Manzanero for the 1999 soap opera of the same name. Manzanero sang the theme song with Lisset. “Between you and I, there’s nothing personal; it’s just the heart that has breakfast, lunch and dinner from your love,” say the opening lines.
“Esperaré” (I’ll Wait)
Manzanero re-recorded the song in an acoustic bolero style in this memorable version with Spanish trio Café Quijano.
“Voy a Apagar la Luz” (I’m Going to Turn Off the Lights)
This loungy, vampy and decidedly sexy song marked a departure for Manzanero. Perhaps the best-known rendition is Luis Miguel’s from his 1997 album Romances.
“Por Debajo de la Mesa” (Underneath the Table)
Though not as widely covered as other Manzanero hits, “Por Debajo de la Mesa” is achingly beautiful.