The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #1901   Message #228393
Posted By: Joe Offer
15-May-00 - 05:24 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos
Subject: RE: Swallow Song - Los Bilbilicos
Here's an e-mail from Joel Bresler:
Hi, Joe.

You've pretty well got it down, by now, in your well informed thread on your web site. Thanks for the reference to the Carolyn Hester recording, which was unfamiliar to me. Bob Dylan playing on a Sephardic folk song! Cool.

Anyway, feel free to post as much of the following as you like:
Bilbilicos are nightingales, a typical Judeo-Spanish admixture of a host language (in this case, "Bilbil") and the spanish diminutive, "icos", yielding Bilbilicos.

There is a distinction between Ladino and Judeo-Spanish, but it is not well observed these days. Ladino is essentially a word-for-word translation from Hebrew into Castilian as it was spoken ca. 15th/16th centuries on the Iberian peninsula. (Technically, a "calque".) The everyday spoken and written language was known as Judezmo, Spaniolit, Haketia (in Northern Africa), and many other variations. The umbrella term used to embrace all these languages and variants, "Judeo-Spanish," was used first by scholars and now by many others. Or people use Ladino for the vernacular language as well.

As I noted, "A Swallow Song" is a variant on the Sephardic folk song "Los Bilbilicos", aka, "La Rosa Enflorece." Many people today know it as the (Hebrew) sabbath song, "Tzur Mishelo." Farina did not credit the source in his original LPs nor has it been credited in the CD re-release.

I am not familiar with the Carolyn Hester LP you reference, and so cannot speak to the words. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! Bibilicos is a misspelling.

I am preparing a comprehensive discography of Judeo-Spanish song, and so would be grateful to learn of any renditions such as those by Hester (and is it also she on the Harmon tribute CD?) I assume Bikel must have recorded it somewhere, but have never heard of it if so. I'll now know to check the variant spelling and would welcome any leads.


Thanks, Joel.
-Joe Offer-