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Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos

14 Jun 97 - 04:02 PM (#6814)
Subject: Lyr/Chords Add: SWALLOW SONG (Richard Farina) ^^
From: Joe Offer

Somebody asked for the Swallow Song, as recorded by Joan Baez. I can't find it in the database, but it's in "Rise Up Singing." Here 'tis:

THE SWALLOW SONG
Richard Farina, 1964

Come wander quietly and listen to the wind
Come here and listen to the sky
Come walking high above the rolling of the sea
And watch the swallows as they fly

Em Em7 C B7 / Em - B7 -

Am Em Am B7 / Am - B7 -

There is no sorrow like the murmur of their wings
There is no choir like their song
There is no power like the freedom of their flight
While the swallows roam alone

Do you hear the calling of a hundred thousand voice
Hear the echo in a stone
Do you hear the angry bells ringing in the night
Do you hear the swallows when they've flown?

And will the breezes blow the petals from your hand
And will some loving ease your pain
And will the silence strike confusion from your soul
And will the swallows come again?
JRO^^

Search for "swallow song" threads


12 May 00 - 04:15 AM (#226957)
Subject: Swallow Song - Los Bibilicos
From: Joe Offer

I'm listening to a 1962 self-titled album by Carolyn Hester, and it has a song called "Los Bibilicos," which has the same tune as "The Swallow Song." Could it be that Farina's song is a translation of an earlier song, or what? What are bibilicos? Note that Farina wrote the "Swallow Song" in 1964.
My first guess was that it's Spanish, but maybe it's Ladino. Something like "los bibilicos cantan en los arbores," so whatever they are, are singin' in the trees or something like that.
Anybody got lyrics, background information, and a translation?
-Joe Offer-


12 May 00 - 10:24 PM (#227359)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: raredance

JOe, this doesn't directly answer your question but it might send you in some useful direction. I am willing to hazard a guess that "Los Bibilicos" is rather old and traditional. The logs of a 1961 recording session indicate that Bob Dylan did 2 takes of the song, John Hammond was the producer. Bob Dylan played harmonica on a Carolyn Hester album. Is that the same one you were listening to? So there is that connection. The song is also on a tribute to Jan Harmon a CD put out by Gordon Bok's label. The CD is described on the Gordon Bok page at Sandy Paton's Folk-Legacy site. Therefore maybe Sandy knows something about it. Perhaps more telling is that the song is on 2 different recordings by an artis called Judy Frankel. The albums are "Tresoros Sephardis" and "Sephardic Songs of Love and Hope". One of the blurbs described this music as being "Judeo-Spanish". That still leaves the question of whether Farina just translated it or was inspired by it to come up with something totally new.

rich r


13 May 00 - 04:02 PM (#227595)
Subject: Los Bibilicos & Swallow Song
From: Joe Offer

Rich, it looks like you and I have been looking at some of the same information. Yes, Dylan played harmonica on Hester's self-titled album in 1962. The album notes identify the song only as "a Spanish song," but I think it's probably Ladino.
I also found mention of the Frankel and Jan Harmon albums. The search continues.
LOS BILBILICOS (note: corrected lyrics below are probably more accurate)

Los Bilbilicos cantan consos piros de amor
Los Bilbilicos cantan consos piros de amor
Mi ne shama ma s'es cure se su friendo del amor
Mi ne shama ma y mi ventura esta en tu poder.

(tune: same as Richard Fariña's "Swallow Song")
Also known as "Los Bibilicos."
source: the Jewish Fake Book, Tara Publications.

Different lyrics were recorded by Carolyn Hester on her self-titled album in 1962 (Fariña was married to Hester, and later to Mimi Baez). I'm looking for the lyrics Hester sang, and for background information and a translation.

The lyrics Hester sang sound kind of like:
Los Bilbilicos cantan in los arbos de la flor…

(and I can't make out the rest at all. As far as I can tell from the Hester lyrics, the only similarity with the song above is the tune and the first three words. Even then, there's a difference – Hester calls it "Los Bibilicos," with the "L" missing in the first syllable).

-Joe Offer-


13 May 00 - 04:52 PM (#227609)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song - Los Bilbilicos
From: Joe Offer

I found at least a partial translation, although I can't tell if it's for the lyrics I posted above, or what.
Nightingales sing and long for love,
my soul and my happiness are in your hands
The search continues. Anybody have a recording or songbook with Fariña's "Swallow song," that might have background information on Fariña's song? My Fariña album doesn't have any background information at all.
-Joe Offer-

Click here for a Frankel recording of "Los Bilbilicos".


13 May 00 - 05:09 PM (#227616)
Subject: Lyr Add: LOS BILBILICOS / THE NIGHTINGALES
From: Joe Offer

Gee, I should have looked at Zemerl first. This appears to be more correct than the version I posted above. "Con sospiros de amor" seems to make sense, and what I transcribed above from the Jewish Fake Book does not. Note, however, that this is not the song that Hester and Frankel sing.
-Joe Offer-

Los Bilbilicos (The Nightingales)

Los bilbilicos cantan
Con sospiros de amor
Mi neshama mi ventura
Estan en tu poder

La rosa enflorese
En el mes de mai
Mi neshama s'escurese,
Sufriendo del amor

Mas presto ven palomba
Mas presto ven con mi
Mas presto ven querida,
Corre y salvame

The nightingales sing
With sighs of love
My soul and my fate
Are in your power

The rose blooms
in the month of May
My soul and fate
Suffer from love's pain

Come more quickly, dove
More quickly come with me
More quickly come, beloved
Run and save me


Zemerl - http://www.princeton.edu/zemerl
Click here and here for a couple more recordings of this song, again with lyrics somewhat different from what I posted.


13 May 00 - 10:13 PM (#227719)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: raredance

Joe,

You're talking to yourself again!


13 May 00 - 11:13 PM (#227735)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: DADGBE

Hi Joe and Rich,

While I have no documented evidence about the song, it comes to me through family sources. 'Los Bilbilicos' was believed by my parents to be Ladino in origin. My paternal grandmother who came to the US in 1905 learned it in Istanbul before the turn of the century.
It sounds 17th century or so to my ear but that's a WAG.(wild-ass guess)
Farina used one version of the tune but wrote his own lyric unrelated to the Ladino. Other tune versions sound more Oriental and modal. I'll warble other tunes for it at you sometime, Joe. You too, Rich if you happen to be in Northern California


13 May 00 - 11:30 PM (#227749)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: Mark Cohen

I remember hearing a collection of Ladino music a number of years ago, and was amazed to hear this tune, which I'd only known in the Farina song. I don't know Ladino, but the word "neshama" is Hebrew for "soul", and I suspect based on my extremely limited Spanish that some of the grammatical constructions are archaic. Ladino, I believe, bears the same relation to Spanish as Yiddish does to German, i.e., an old form of the language with a large admixture of Hebrew.
Joe, I'm continually impressed with the breadth of your knowledge of Jewish music; it certainly surpasses mine, and I grew up with it! Reminds me a bit of a story about Stan Hugill, who once asked an acquaintance of mine, sotto voce, "Tell me something. How come all these Jewish kids are singing shanties?"

Aloha,
Mark


15 May 00 - 10:24 AM (#228184)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: Jacob B

On the Jewish Music discussion list, I've seen some very well informed people make a distinction between Ladino and Judeo-Spanish. I've also seen a discussion of this song. I'll see if I can search that list's archives and come up with information about this song, and about the difference between the two languages.


15 May 00 - 02:17 PM (#228290)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: Joe Offer

Thanks to Jacob, I found this at the jewish-music@shamash.org mailing list, which is archived at www.shamash.org.
Hi, Pablo. Worth noting that the so-called "Richard Farina tune at the end" - A Swallow Song - is in fact a very slight melodic variant on the Sephardic tune "Los Bilbilicos" (itself often used as the table song "Tzur Mishelo"). Farina evidently did not credit the original source on his LPs (and it is not credited in the recent CD re-release.)

I'd be interested if folks know of other recordings that use this variant. My wife learned "A Swallow Song" at summer camp and had no idea of its origin.
B'shalom,

Joel Bresler
Here's another clip of a different message from Joel Bresler:
La Rosa Enflorece is one of the most widely recorded Sephardic songs. It is also known by its alternate opening stanza, Los Bilbilicos (The Nightingales.) I know of 120 examples, and this is just of the Ladino version. I don't begin to attempt a count of its use as a melody for Tzur Mishelo. BTW, I believe "La Rosa Enflorece" is not actually a romance (which is a ballad which always comes in a particular format) but rather a lyric song.
Thanks, Jacob & Joel - that adds another piece to the puzzle.
-Joe Offer-


One more thing I found on the mailing list archive - apparently, there is a modernized version of the song, titled "Los Bibilicos" (note spelling difference), in a Theodore Bikel songbook called Folksongs and Footnotes. Does anybody have that book, and would you be willing to post the Bikel lyrics for us?


15 May 00 - 03:18 PM (#228322)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: Jacob B

Two more versions of the lyrics:

La rosa enflorece
en el mez de May
Mi alma s'ecurece
Sufriendeo del amor

Los bilbilicos cantan
sospiran de amor
Y la pasio me mata
muchigua mi dolor

mas presto van palomba
mas presto van a mi
mas presto tu mi almo
quo me vo morir/corre y salva mi


La rosa enflorece
en el arvol de la flor
Mi alma se escurece
sufriendo del amor

los bilbilicos cantan
kon sospiros de aver
mi alma i ventura
estan en tu poder


Here's a clip from a message by Judith Cohen, about Judeo/Spanish versus Ladino:

In any case, "Ladino" itself is a problematic term. Technically, it refers only to the literal translation from Hebrew: the time-honoured example is "la noche la esta" from "ha-laila ha-zeh", used in the Haggadah, instead of the spoken "esta noche" (c.f. "the night the this"). Every community has its own designations for the spoken language: in Morocco it's haketia (really khaketia, with the initial guttural as in Khanuka ...) In the ex-Ottoman areas it was spaniol, or spaniol muestro ("our Spanish"), or djidio (literally, "Jewish", like Yiddish) or djudezmo (same idea). Only relatively recently has "ladino" come to be used for every variety of the language. Judeo-Spanish does cover it all.

And here is a link to the message that quote comes from. It talks about where to find a discography of commercially available Judeo-Spanish songs, and also has a discussion of the ethics of including one of those songs in your repertoire.


15 May 00 - 03:59 PM (#228351)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: Charlie Baum

Joe asked me to comment on this thread, and then found the material above form jewish-music@shamash.org, which covers most of what I was going to add to this discussion. The tune is definitely an old sephardic tune, though when you think Judeo-Spanish, you should remember that a significant portion of the Jews thrown out of Spain in 1492 went to present-day Turkey, Greece and the Balkans, which may account somewhat for the oriental sound of the tune.

The language is Ladino, also called Judezmo, a mixture of old Spanish and Hebrew. Note the variations above: "Mi alma se escurese" versus "Mi neshama s'e scurese": the word for "soul" being "neshama" in Hebrew and "alma" in Spanish. Ladino uses "muestro" rather than "nuestro" for our. And "good-bye" is "adio" rather than "adios"--a tribute tot he Jewish concept of the singularity of G-d.

And lastly, when I sing the tune myself, I'm most likely to use it with the words for the table-song "Tzur Mishelo Achalnu".

--Charlie Baum


15 May 00 - 05:24 PM (#228393)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song - Los Bilbilicos
From: Joe Offer

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.

Best,

Joel
Thanks, Joel.
-Joe Offer-


15 May 00 - 05:26 PM (#228396)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: GUEST,PA

There is another rendition of Richard Farina's "A Swallow Song" on a CD by Canadian-Israeli singer, TSUFIT, called "Under the Mediterranean Sky". It is the final song on the cd. A brief clip of the song can be heard at www.tsufit.com .


15 May 00 - 06:00 PM (#228414)
Subject: Lyr Add: TSUR MISHELO (Hebrew)
From: Joe Offer

Here's the Hebrew song with the same tune.
-Joe Offer-

TSUR MISHELO

Tsur mishelo achalnu
Barchu emunay
Savanu v'hotarnu
Kidvar Adonay

Let us bless the Lord whose food we ate
Let us thank Him with our lips chanting
There is no one holy like our Lord

Zemerl - http://www.princeton.edu/zemerl


22 May 00 - 02:42 AM (#231685)
Subject: Los Bilbilicos - Swallow Song
From: Joe Offer

Got another e-mail on this subject today:
-Joe Offer
Dear Joe Offer:
As I was, I believe, the person who originally informed others on our Jewish Music list that Richard Farina had borrowed this Sephardic melody for his Swallow Song, I've been following the discussion on _your_ list with interest. I thought you might like to share with your list that I wrote Mimi Farina asking if she had any idea how her husband had learned the Sephardic melody; she didn't know, but felt certain "he'd picked it up when he was in Spain. He traveled through Spain during the summer of 1963--seeking the ghost of Hemingway, I'm sure."

Regarding another of Richard's "borrowings" (or, as Woody Guthrie and others would have called them, thefts), in this case for "The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" (from an Irish song), Mimi wrote, charmingly, I guess: "Dick Farina had a way of plagiarizing that was not only bold, but also endearingly forgivable."

I *did* find that cute, though I imagine you'd have to ask the plagiarees to determine if it was forgivable ...

Just what *is* the nature of your list, anyway?

W/ all best wishes--Robert Cohen


22 May 00 - 03:50 AM (#231690)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song - Los Bibilicos
From: Joe Offer

I'm still working on the question of how Fariña got the tune. Somebody told me last night that Carolyn Hester told him that Fariña had been familiar with the song "Los Bilbilicos," but didn't know the meaning of the words - but it seems funny that a guy with a tilde in his surname wouldn't know at least a bit of Spanish, which is pretty darn close to Ladino (although "bilbilicos" is not in my Spanish dictionary). I believe that Fariña was still married to Hester when Hester recorded the song as "Los Bibilicos" in 1962.

Hester sings these lyrics, which are exactly what I found in a 1960 songbook by Theodore Bikel called "Folksongs and Footnotes":
LOS BIBILICOS

Los bibilicos cantan / En los arbos de la flor
Los bibilicos cantan / En los arbos de la flor
Debaxo se asentan / Los que sufren del amor.
Debaxo se asentan / Los que sufren del amor.

Bikel translates it:

The nightbirds are singing
In the flowering trees,
While underneath sit those
That suffer from love.

-Joe Offer (I guess you caught me talking to myself again)-
Sing Out! Magazine published "The Swallow Song" in its last issue in 1966 (Vol 16, #3), but my library's collection begins in January, 1967. If somebody has that magazine and could look it up for us, I'd sure appreciate it.


23 May 00 - 12:24 AM (#232339)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: GUEST,Mark Cohen, at the hospital nursery

Joe, this is a wonderfully informative thread. I'm especially pleased to be educated about Judeo-Spanish vs. Ladino et al. I don't think the same variety exists for Yiddish, but I may be wrong. Interestingly, my grandparents didn't use the word Yiddish. They always said something like, "Harry, the children! Say it in Jewish!" (Just an English translation, of course.)

Joel refers to "the Harmon tribute CD." Is that Jan Harmon? I've been meaning to order that for a while, and I think I will go ahead and do it. If anybody is interested, you can get the Jan Harmon tribute CD through Timberhead Music, reachable on Gordon Bok's website. (Pardon the thread creep!)

Aloha,
Mark


23 May 00 - 01:05 AM (#232350)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: bbelle

The Swallow Song has always been my favotite Richard and Mimi Farina song. I also have it on The Joan Baez "Ring Them Bells" CD. The harmony between Joan and Mimi is breathtaking! I never realized, though, that it is of Sephardic origin and, being of Sephardic descent, makes it all the more interesting. It is such a haunting and beautiful song ... think I'll move it to the top of my "to learn" list ... moonchild


20 Dec 00 - 09:30 AM (#360348)
Subject: A swallow song
From: GUEST,kivatrader

Does anyone know, or have access to the lyrics of Richard & Mimi Farina's song "a swallow song" from their "reflections in a crystal wind" album? I own the lp, but can't find it in all this mess!


20 Dec 00 - 11:07 AM (#360406)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE SWALLOW SONG (Richard Farina)
From: Margaret V

Here you go:

THE SWALLOW SONG
Richard Farina

Come wander quietly and listen to the wind
Come here and listen to the sky
Come walking high above the rolling of the sea
And watch the swallows as they fly

There is no sorrow like the murmur of their wings
There is no choir like their song
There is no power like the freedom of their flight
As the swallows roam alone

Do you hear the calling of a hundred thousand wings
Hear the echo in a stone
Do you hear the angry bells ringing in the night
Do you hear the swallows when they've flown?

And will the breezes blow the petals from your hand
And will some loving ease your pain
And will the silence strike confusion from your brain
And will the swallows come again?


21 Dec 00 - 04:10 AM (#360920)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: A swallow song
From: Joe Offer

The tune comes from a Sephardic Jewish song called "Los Bilbilicos" (The Nightingales). As far as we've been able to determine, Richard Fariña was aware of the tune, but had no understanding of the meaning of the Ladino words of "Los Bibilicos." You may be interested in this thread (click) for background information on the song. I believe the tune is also used for a table grace in Hebrew.
-Joe Offer-


01 Apr 02 - 12:54 PM (#680803)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: GUEST,Liz

That's all very fascinating but I'm looking for the lyrics as sung by Farina and Baez. Please.


01 Apr 02 - 01:04 PM (#680807)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: MMario

Liz - very first post in this thread has Richard Farina's lyrics.


01 Apr 02 - 01:18 PM (#680813)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: artbrooks

Liz, please see response #1. The only difference from those verses and what Richard Farina sings on "Reflections in a Crystal Wind" is that he substitutes "trembling" for "echo" in the 3rd verse. I went back and played my old LP to be sure.


01 Apr 02 - 07:57 PM (#681096)
Subject: RE: Swallow Song
From: IvanB

I have an MP3 (have no idea where I got it) of Joan and Mimi singing it, and they also use the word 'trembling' in place of 'echo.'


25 Sep 09 - 07:44 AM (#2731018)
Subject: Lyr Add: Los Bilbilicos (The Nightingales)
From: Genie

Minor correction to the lyrics and translation you posted, Joe :

Verse 2:
La rosa enflorese / 
En el mes de mai

Mi neshama s'escurese, 
/ Sufriendo del amor.

You have this translated as:
The rose blooms / 
in the month of May

My soul and fate 
 / Suffer from love's pain.

It should be just " ... My soul suffers from love's pain."

Verse one mentions "mi ventura" (my fate). Verse 2 does not.

    These comments have value, Genie. However, when I post from a documented source, I will not change something unless the post is discrepant from the source.
    -Joe-


16 Feb 12 - 02:37 PM (#3309645)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos
From: GUEST,Nava Ervin

wow...thank you so much for this rich fountain of information!!! I grew up in Israel with all these precious songs!!! It brings such heartfelt delight to my spirit to hear the songs in Spanish and finally after decades know what they mean. Yehoram Gaon sings this Los Biblicos - Cancion Sefardi and Avre tu puerta cerrada - Canción Sefardí BEAUTIFULLY with so much beauty and emotions....tears from the depth of my soul show up each time I hear him. Thanks again for your kind effort and amazing indepth research and transalation!!! Happy new year and all best wishes to you and your family, gratefully, Nava


16 Feb 12 - 06:59 PM (#3309778)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos
From: GUEST,leeneia

I like it. Hear it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en8C3MJaRXI


16 Feb 12 - 11:55 PM (#3309862)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos
From: Genie

Consuelo Luz sings "Los Bilbilicos (The Nightingales)"


17 Feb 12 - 11:17 AM (#3310077)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos
From: GUEST,leeneia

Interesting to speculate that the Spanish 'bilbilico' is related to the 'bulbul', "a Persian songbird fequently mentioned in poetry, probably a kind of nightingale."


26 Mar 12 - 01:49 AM (#3328948)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos
From: GUEST,EGhanem

Came across this thread...just want to let you know of the most beautiful Sephardic album that might still be available: Primavera En Salonico with Greek singer, Savina Yannatou. I have an Eastern Mediterranean ensemble and we do this repertoire...it is so timeless and gorgeous...


26 Oct 16 - 12:33 PM (#3816638)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos
From: GUEST,Dr Allan Tysman

Bilbilicos is ladino for little bulbuls. Bulbul and nightingale are both translated by Ben Yehudah as the Hebrew Zamir which means singer.


26 Oct 16 - 12:46 PM (#3816640)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos
From: Jack Campin

The Ladino presumably comes via the Turkish "bülbül" rather than directly from Persian.


27 Oct 16 - 10:57 AM (#3816808)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos
From: GUEST,Dr Allan Tysman

Ladino takes from Catalan/Andalusian Arabic derivations relating to Moroccan Arabic usage spelled in French as ' Boulboul'. Semitic language consonant roots are 'blbl' to do with confusion as the song of these birds is inconstant and readily switches in pitch, tune and theme - much like the UK blackbird's song - really rich and sweet and much varied


27 Oct 16 - 01:30 PM (#3816821)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Swallow Song (R Farina)-Los Bilbilicos
From: Jack Campin

Ladino speakers lived in the Ottoman Empire for 500 years so it seems rather likely that their language borrowed from Turkish as well.

The Istanbul Sephardic band Sefarad do this song in both Ladino and Turkish.