"La Paloma" is a popular Spanish song that has been produced and reinterpreted in diverse cultures, settings, arrangements, and recordings over the last 140 years. The song was composed and written by the Spanish composer from the Basque region Sebastián Iradier (later Yradier) around the fifties of the nineteenth century. In 1859 it was registered at the copyright office in Madrid as a "Cancion Americana con acompañamiento de Piano". Iradier was to die in obscurity within few years, never to learn how popular his song would become.
"La Paloma" belongs to a genre of songs called "Habaneras," a musical style developed in 19th-century Spain that is still today very much present in the form of folk songs and formal compositions, particularly in the Northern Basque Region and East Coast (Catalonia and Valencia) regions of the country. Like all "Habaneras," its characteristic and distinct rhythm reflects the fusion of the local Cuban songs that the Spanish sailors of the time brought back with them from their travels to the island, with the rhythm structure of the flamenco “tanguillo gaditano” (original from Cádiz, Andalusia). Very quickly "La Paloma" became popular outside of Spain, particularly in Mexico, and soon spread around the world. In many places, including Afghanistan, Hawaii, the Philippines, Germany, Romania, Zanzibar, and Goa it gained the status of a quasi-folk song. Over the years the popularity of "La Paloma" has surged and receded periodically, but never subsided. It may be considered one of the first universal popular hits and has appealed to artists of diverse musical backgrounds. There are more than one thousand versions of this song, and that together with "Yesterday" by the Beatles, is one of the most recorded songs in the history of music.
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