Besame Mucho, the Story Behind the Most Famous Song in the Latino Songbook

BY: 
Susanne Ramírez de Arellano
 | April 20, 2023

Image courtesy of Nuestro Stories.

Consuelo Velázquez is one of Mexico’s most famous modern songwriters. She used her imagination when she composed and wrote the lyrics of one of the most recognizable songs in the Latino songbook: Besame Mucho (Kiss Me A Lot).

Velázquez wrote a classic love song when she was about 15 years old, with lyrics dreamed up because, well, she had never been kissed.

The song was a bolero inspired by the Nightingale Aria — about unrequited love — from the opera “Goyescas” by Enrique Granados.

The melody conjures up that first love based on nothing but feelings. Besame Mucho is a song about the anticipation of love and not the reality of it.

“Besame

Besame mucho

Como si fuera ésta noche

La última vez

Besame, besame mucho

Que tengo miedo a perderte

Perderte después”

Translated into more than 20 languages, dozens of artists have sung Besame Mucho in many different styles. These include The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Pedro Vargas, Linda Ronstadt, Plácido Domingo, Elvis Presley, and Luis Miguel, to name a few.

The Coasters’ 1960 version was said to be Paul McCartney’s favorite.

Velázquez was born in Jalisco, Mexico, in 1920 and grew up in Guadalajara. At only four years old, she played the piano and gave recitals.

She moved to Mexico City to study at the National Conservatory and the Palace of Fine Arts in her teens.

After finishing her studies, Velázquez became a concert pianist, wrote popular songs, and worked in classic music programs on the radio.

At that time, a radio performance by a young lady was seen as scandalous, so Velázquez used male pseudonyms. She often performed during the day songs she had written at night.

Bésame Mucho was recorded in 1941; it was a mega Big Band hit during World War II

In 1999, Besame Mucho became the only Mexican song ever to top the United States hit parade for 12 consecutive weeks.

You will also hear it in movies – fittingly, the romantic comedy “The moon over Parador” (1988) and “Sueños de Arizona” (1993), among others.

“Bésame

Bésame mucho

Como si fuera ésta noche

La última vez

Bésame, Bésame mucho

Que tengo miedo a perderte

Perderte después

Quiero tenerte muy cerca

Mirarme en tus ojos

Verte junto a mi

Piensa que tal vez mañana

Yo ya estaré lejos

Muy lejos de ti

Bésame

Bésame mucho

Como si fuera ésta noche

La última vez

Bésame, Bésame mucho

Que tengo miedo a perderte

Perderte después …”

Velázquez had a sculpture of her erected in Mexico City in 2003 and continued writing throughout her life. Sadly, she passed away in 2005.

Besame Mucho remained her song — one as timeless and lingering as that first love.

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