A Family-Friendly Version of La Cucaracha!

La Cucaracha 2 screensnapI recently received an e-mail from Sweden asking about the Mexican folksong, “La Cucaracha”.  The writer wondered how this song could be so familiar so far away from it’s Latin American roots. The answer is simple, some songs are just that catchy, simple and have a certain magic about them.  “La Cucarcha” seems to be one of those songs.

So, what is this popular little globe-trotting song all about?

Let’s start with the basics.  The Spanish word “cucaracha” means cockroach and there are multiple verses to the song, many of which are silly or nonsensical.  Although most frequently associated with Mexican culture, the song actually dates back to a Spanish “corrido” song.  And, no one really knows how old “La Cucaracha” is but at least one version appears in a songbook that dates back to 1492!

Is there a standard set of lyrics?  No!  If you check out the wikipedia page below you’ll see lots of verses including many with historical or cultural references.  And, naturally,  there are the clever or silly ones, as well:

cucaracha poster(Spanish) Cuando uno quiere a una
y esta una no lo quiere,
es lo mismo que si un calvo
en la calle encuentra un peine

(English) When a man loves a woman
but she doesn’t love him back
it’s like a bald man
finding a comb in the street.

A Kid-Friendly Version

Although this is a great little song, I never sang it in public because one of the verses referred to marijuana.  It just didn’t fit my definition of a family-friendly tune.  However, while performing a concert for a group of nuns in South American, one Sister sang me her own version of the song.  It was cute and sweet and left out the “offending” verse.

Her version totally inspired me to not only sing the song, but to add some silly English lyrics, preserving the “everyone adds their own touch” approach to adapting folksongs.  In my bilingual version, the little cockroach likes to play traditional Mexican instruments.  And with 6 legs, wouldn’t any cockroach make a fine percussionist?

Here are the bilingual lyrics, plus the popular Youtube video.  And if a little cockroach who plays both guiros and maracas inspires you, you can make your own version of  these instruments to play in class or at home.  Just check out the links below for the DIY instructions.

Here’s hoping this song makes you laugh and smile, learn a bit of Spanish and share a song with someone you love!

What’s a… what’s a… what’s a  cucaracha ?
It’s a … It’s a … cockroach

(Spanish) La cucaracha, La cucaracha, ya no puede caminar
Por que le falte, por que no tiene
Dinero para gastar

(English) The little cockroach, the little cockroach,
I saw him just the other day
I like him best when, he takes his things and…
He gets his friends and moves away!

The little cockroach, the little cockroach,
He likes to play up with the band
Upon the guiro, he is a hero
He’s got the fastest moving hands

La cucaracha, La cucaracha, ya no puede caminar
Por que le falte, por que no tiene
Dinero para gastar

The little cockroach, the little cockroach,
He likes to play up with the band
Upon the guiro, he is a hero
He’s got the fastest moving hands

The little cockroach, the little cockroach,
I saw him just the other day
I like him best when, he takes his things and
He gets his friends and moves away -  ole!

(new English lyrics by Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou)

Links and Resources

Wikipedia’s Full History of La Cucaracha
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Cucaracha

MYO Guiro from TeachersPayTeachers
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Make-Your-Own-Latin-American-Guiro-1230266

MYO Maracas from TeachersPayTeachers
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Make-Your-Own-Maracas-1428029

La Cucaracha from Itunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i-have-a-dream/id49532398

La Cucaracha from Amazon mp3
http://amzn.com/B0013PIZ9O

Free Music Craft Activities from the DARIA MUSIC website
http://www.dariamusic.com/crafts.php

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>