A Taste of: Mexican Ballads Part 2

– Rocío Dúrcal –

Rocio Durcal is a name that resonates widely to the people of Mexico, Spain, and the rest of Latin America.  The fascinating thing about this woman’s legacy is the fact that she was not actually born in Mexico, but through the impact of her music, has interestingly become iconic there.  Rocio Durcal’s home turf was Madrid, Spain – she was born there on October 4, 1944 and in the same city, passed away on March 25, 2006.  Her strong devotion to both her motherland and Mexico was set in stone.  She’s la Española mas Mexicana – The ‘most Mexican Spaniard’ and thus, after her tragic death, Rocio Durcal’s ashes were divided and spread in both Madrid and Mexico City.

Digging deep into Rocio’s background wasn’t necessary to know she was a young actress, as well as a singer back in her days as a rookie.

Spanish films had the tendency to seem like musicals, minus the dramatized singing, cheesy acting and periodic dance sequences. Here’s a short scene in which Rocio and Enrique Guzman (another Mexican icon) are singing a duet of the now popular song, “Acompáñame“.  (Side note: Duets.  Where have they gone??)

She was discovered by manager Luis Sanz on a television talent show. He coined the name Rocio Durcal (her birth name is María de los Ángeles de las Heras Ortíz) and launched her acting career as one of the youngest, most successful teen stars of Spain.  Throughout the 60s, she starred in various teen films, such as  Cancion de juventud (1962), Mas bonita que ninguna (1965) and in 1969, her biggest box office hit, Las leandras.  She ended her run of acting with Me siento extraña, a 1977 film which featured a lesbian sex scene between her and actress Bárbara Rey.  Rocio regretted the role and eventually called it quits.

Flash forward to the following year, and she’s in a whole new ball game.  She met Mexican singer-composer Juan Gabriel in 1978 and together they took over the world of Mexican-ranchera music and romantic ballads.

Here are the two in a duet of the unforgettable “El destino“:

Juan Gabriel deserves a whole post about him because he is one of the most influential male songwriters in the history of Mexican music.  I’ll see if I can whip something up later.  He is in fact the man who guided Rocio’s music career to what it has become today.  He handed her his songs and she covered them like no other.

Arguably the most popular song of hers is “Amor Eterno” (Eternal Love).  I could go to every single one of my family members, ask them “what is the first Rocio Durcal song that comes to mind?” and this very song would (I bet 5 bucks) be the first answer they’d give me.  It would be MY first answer!

There are qualities in songs today that just don’t exist anymore.  Something I could never say about a single song this day in age that I can about Amor Eterno is the colossal impact it has on the lives of the people who listen to it.  This song is Powerful with a capital P.  I mean, the lyrics on paper alone are breathtaking:

Eternal love, you are the sadness of my eyes
that cry in silence for your love,
I look in the mirror and see in my face
the time that I have suffered from your farewell.
I force my thoughts to forget you,
since I am always thinking of yesterday
I prefer being asleep than awake,
so much that it hurts me that you are not here.
How much I wish that you still lived,
that your eyes had never closed
and to be looking at them…

Then add a moving melody, subtle instrumentation and Rocio’s voice and you’re left with an emotional piece of flawless music.  What I think makes this particular ballad so heavily epic is how relatable it is.  This song is used to commemorate the loss of a loved one.  It locks in on emotion and doesn’t let go.

From my own experience, I can tell you that this song is an occasional challenge to listen to. I heard this song at a funeral I attended to as a child.  It’s not even the song that dares to mess with my emotions, but the manner in which Rocio Durcal interprets it.

Listening to her is one thing; Rocio’s fine voice, complimented by her range, vibrato, and huskiness is amazing – but watching her perform is another.  She embodies the movement in her music and commands the stage.  The full use of her body is beautiful.  She becomes the song and it’s a remarkable quality to have as a performer.

Amor Eterno:

and as a final treat, here is another one of her biggest hits, “La Gata Bajo la Lluvia“, enjoy!

Rocio Durcal came down from Spain and took in the Mexican culture, becoming an unforgettable name in the music industry.  She fused ranchera-styled music and romantic ballads to form a sound all of her own.  She was one of a kind and if I didn’t make it clear before, Rocio Durcal is and will always be one of my favorite female singers of all time.


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