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Celia Cruz - La Vida Es Un Carnaval

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, April 4, 2007 12:04pm | Post a Comment



No club or bar frequented by Latinos would be the same without it. Neither would any wedding reception, quinceañera or backyard party. In fact, if you were to drive through the L.A. barrios, my guess is that you would hear the song at some point in your journey.





Celia Cruz’s “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” was originally released in 1998 and it hasn’t left the dance floor since. The song was an international hit for both Celia Cruz and for recent Cuban expatriate Isaac Delgado, who released his version in 1999. Isaac’s slightly melancholy version is good but Celia’s version is bombastic. It maybe pop music but it’s good pop music. The horn lines are catchy to point that you will be humming them all day. The tempo is perfect. Not too fast for novice dancers and not too slow for the experts. It is a song that mixes well with other forms of Latin music. I’ve have heard versions done in Reggaeton, Banda, Cumbia, & Merengue style.

Then there is the chorus. It is the chorus that hits home for most people.

Ay, no ha que llorar,
Que la vida es un carnaval,
Es mas bello vivir cantando.
Oh, oh, oh, Ay, no hay que llorar,
Que la vida es un carnaval
Y las penas se van cantando.

Which roughly translates to:

Ay, no need to cry
Life is a carnival
It's sweeter to live singing
Oh-oh-oh ay, no need to cry
For life is a carnival
And singing relieves the pain

“La Vida Es Un Carnaval” makes me think of people I used to work with in the factories in my teens. My co-workers were mostly undocumented immigrants from Mexico, Central America and the Philippines. Most of them came to the U.S. to make money to send back home. Some escaped from the wars in Central America during the 80’s. Others saw no future where they were and came to the U.S. to try something new. Regardless why they came, they had to give up family and homeland to come here and work.

All day my co-workers would sing along to the songs on the radio. They said it made the day go faster. Most immigrants hate crybabies. The last thing they want to hear is a privilege person complaining. To an immigrant, the fact that you were an American citizen was privilege enough. When the American in me would complain when we would get too much work, my co-workers would simply say, “No lloras” (don’t cry) I had no reason to cry compared to them. To my co-workers crying about life only made it worse. That is what most of us get out of Celia’s song. Life is a trip and it is better to enjoy the journey than to complain.

Celia Cruz had a career that spanned over four decades before she passed in 2003. She had many, many great moments during that time. Beside her solo career, she had stints with La Sonora Matancera, Tito Puente, The Fania All-Stars, Willie Colon and Johnny Pacheco. It was great to see her become even more popular just before she passed. Too many legends are forgotten as they get older. When I look at this montage video I see Celia  enjoying the last years of her career just as much as her past moments.


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