Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

A Song For This Day (and year): Suavecito

2017-rollover

Another year over and upon us, and like I’ve done before, highlighting a song that just felt right for this point in time. Once again, selected a tune from the Ye ‘Ol Decade of the 1970s to christen the new year of 2017. Suavecito reaching its 45th anniversary this month, out the same year I graduated from the cauldron known as high school, and still having an affect on moi. As Matthew Greenwald so eloquently noted on Allmusic:

“One of the biggest FM radio hits of the early ’70s, Malo’s “Suavecito” — next to Santana’s classics — defined the California Latin rock sound. A creamy series of chord changes — loaded with major and minor seventh chords — runs through the melody, giving the song a settled, sensual groove. The lyrics, sung in Spanish, are deeply romantic and are so powerfully subtle that they transcend language barriers. The real star, though, is guitarist Jorge Santana — brother of Carlos Santana — who provides a snaky series of guitar runs through the whole song that slither and undulate like a belly dancer.”

Recorded the previous fall, but released in January of 1972, this heady amorous pop number would affect a number of us in the final months of our twelfth grade studies. Especially, those like me referring to ourselves as Chicano1 and finally acknowledging a heritage still derided among many we were living among through a cultural blend of music. This one would fill the gym floor whenever played for Friday school dances.

Suavecito‘s single cut (3:27) would reach as high 18th on the radio pop chart nationally, with Malo‘s self-titled album attaining the 14th and 10th positions for the year on the Pop and R&B album charts, respectively. Moreover, the single received heavy play on Los Angeles stations. Which, no doubt, helped spearhead the longer album version (6:35) on to the local FM airwaves that flowed into the various homes, and cars, that year.

Hell, it’s that cut I remember most; particularly playing at a New Year’s Eve dance in downtown L.A. I attended as ’72 came to a close. Me back one last time to the neighborhood and friends, the “old college guy” with a semester under my belt, to reminisce with my juniors (who were now seniors at South Gate High). Sadly, coming to realize as this song played in the hall, with its haunting horns and sentimental drift, there was no going back.

Romantic for days now gone, realizing only what lay ahead could I look forward to…finally growing up, in other words.

Besides, the bond I continually feel for Suavecito also lay with the terms passed along with its melody, even if it was essentially a one-hit wonder for the group (who are still around playing to new converts and us “viejos.”). The title meaning “soft” or “smooth” and the group’s name, “Malo”, in Spanish for “bad.”2 The former self-evident, but the latter, back then, had a quite different overtone. A song labeled so, a knowing complement for many of us then given a boost of ancestral musical pride.

Laaaa-ah-ah, la-la, laaaa-ah-ah
Laaaa-ah-ah, la-la, laaaa-ah-ah

Never, I never meet a girl like you in my life
I never, no, no, yeah
I never meet a girl like you in my life

The way that you hold me in the night
The way that you make things go right
Whenever you’re in my arms
Girl, you’re filling me with all your charms

Suavecito, mi linda
Suavecito
The feelin’ I have inside for you
Suavecito, mi linda
Suavecito

The feelin’, the feelin’ that I have inside for you
’cause ever since the day I met you
I knew you that you were my dream come true
But I think I’ve found that day
Gonna make you mine in every way

Suavecito, mi linda
(baby now)
Suavecito
That we’ve got the kind of love
Suavecito
I can’t believe that it’s really true
Suavecito
’cause you know that, girl, I love you
I need you
Love you
You
You
You

All I want is you
If I can’t have you
I don’t know what to do

La-la, laaaa-ah-ah
La-la, laaaa-ah-ah
Laaaa-ah-ah
La-la, laaaa-ah-ah

Never, I never meet a girl like you in my life
I never, no, no, yeah
I never met a girl like you in my life
’cause I know we’ll always be
Together just you and me
From here on you’re gonna see
You’ll be mine until eternity

Suavecito, mi linda
(baby, now)
Suavecito
That we’ve got the kind of love
Suavecito, mi linda
I can’t believe that it’s really true
(suavecito)
’cause you know, girl, that I love you
(suavecito, mi linda)
(suavecito)
I need you
Suavecito
I love you


  1. Little wonder Suavecito was called “The Chicano National Anthem”; and arranged for Malo by Richard Bean (the timbales player who wrote it as a poem for a girl in his high school algebra class), bassist Pablo Tellez, and Abel Zarate (both also received co-author credit for the song). 
  2. Also means “good” in Mayan, likewise depicted through the group’s album art (painted by Jesus Helguera and designed by John & Barbara Casado, who also designed a famed logo for a certain fruit-flavored computer company). Many latino families grew up with cultural artifacts of indigenous Mesoamerican civilization; some reproduced graphically in pop artwork and on many a household calendar. 
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7 Responses to “A Song For This Day (and year): Suavecito”

  1. ruth

    Happy New Year Michael, I think you can still say that right? 😉 Hope you had a great Christmas break. Awesome song to ring in the new year too!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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