Yo Ho, WeRCatz here.
On December 28, 2020, the world lost one of the last romantic composers of the old guard: Armando Manzanero. He lost the fight against COVID-19.
Born on December 7, 1935, Manzanero was of Mayan descent and was raised in Ticul, Yucatan, Mexico. In 1950 he began his musical career with his first song called Nunca en el Mundo (Never in the World). This song has been translated into 21 languages to date. One year later he began as a professional pianist. After becoming musical director by CBS International (Mexican branch) in 1957 and as EMI’s Musical Promoter, Armando was the pianist for major Latin American artists like Lucho Gatica, Pedro Vargas, and Spanish singer Raphael.
As a singer, an RCA Victor executive begged Manzanero to record an album of his own so that people would hear exactly how Manzanero’s songs SHOULD sound like. Thus, he sang his first album of love songs called Mi Primera Grabación (My First Record) in 1960. In this album, there is nothing but hits, including his version of “Nunca en el Mundo.”
Over the decades, Manzanero 50 international hits. His compositions are legendary and his songs have been recorded by many artists including Elvis Presley, Perry Como, Laura Pausini, Luis Miguel, Dionne Warwick, Roberto Carlos, Ray Conniff, and Frank Sinatra just to name VERY few.
Because of his extensive list of songs and piano compositions of his songs, I can only mention a certain amount of Manzanero’s songs here. So, let’s have a look at some of his most famous songs:
He collaborated with Mexican teen idol singer Angelica Maria and produced some famous songs for a movie in 1962: “Eddy Eddy” and “Paso a Pasito.” Manzanero was 23 at this point and was beginning his work as a songwriter.
In 1967 and 1968, his three albums A mi amor… Con mi amor, Manzanero el Grande, and Somos Novios are nothing but masterpieces of Manzanero’s repertoire and containing his most enduring songs. Here’s a shortlist of some of these genuine works of music:
From the album Somos Novios is the titular song “Somos Novios.” Since 1968, this song is considered the greatest bolero of all time. However, because of songwriter Sid Wayne, Perry Como recorded the English version titled “It’s Impossible” in 1970. Since Manzanero fought tooth and nail for copyright ownership, everyone who performs this song must give credit (and all royalties) to Manzanero. This experience helped Manzanero become President and one of the main directors of the Mexican National Association of Authors and Composers in 2011; the organization has international acclaim because of Manzanero’s manner of defending copyright laws.
What made Manzanero’s music endure is the composition and especially the lyrical content. The lyrics are very simple takes on love but hold a profound, relatable grasp on relationships. For example, his other super hit “No Se Tu” is about someone hopelessly missing his lover after a breakup; this song helped Luis Miguel’s career. Another example is the 1996 classic “Nada Personal” made for the telenovela Nada Personal. This song, featuring singer Lissett, is about a man having a relationship with someone living with him yet there is “nothing personal” between the two. What is personal is that the two people together share so much that there really is “nothing personal” to worry about; no secrets and no infidelities.
There a few of the old guard left when it comes to boleros and musica romantica. Sadly, they cannot be replaced by anyone today. Manzanero’s passing is a great loss to the magical art of writing songs that captivate listeners just by the lyrics alone. Talent alone cannot guarantee success without genuine content, composition, and using simple expressions that have profound meanings behind them. Adios, Maestro Manzanero.