Bachata Rosa is an iconic modern Latin song by one of my favourite Latin artists – Juan Luis Guerra. It was released in 1990 on his 5th studio album of the same name. The record has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Bachata Rosa is derived from a genre of music called ‘Bachata’. In fact the success of his record brought ‘Bachata’ music not only into the mainstream in the Dominican Republic where Luis Guerra is from, but gave the genre an international audience.
In Spain, the album spent eight weeks at number one. Even in the Netherlands, the record peaked at number two on the Mega Album Top 100 and was certified gold. Music critics have cited Bachata Rosa as one of Luis Guerra’s most important works due to his songwriting and the record production.
Bachata music originates from the Dominican Republic and is played with guitars and percussion (bongos, maracas amongst other instruments). The principal themes of this genre are love, betrayal and jealousy. Due to the motives surrounding this form of music they are known as ‘Bitter songs’. Bachata was defined as music from the rural areas of the Dominican Republic with lyrics considered too crude and vulgar to the public’s taste. You could say that the Bachata of today’s song ‘Bachata Rosa (Rose)’ is a refined version of the original Bachata music by having endowed the form with more melody and softer lyrics.
The lyrics are superb even in their loose English translation:
I give you a rose
I found her on the road
I don’t know if she’s naked
Or has only one dress
No, I do not know
If you water it in summer
Or if it gets drunk to oblivion
If she was ever loved
Or has hidden loves
Ay, ay ay ay, love
You’re the rose that gives me warmth
You are the dream of my solitude
A lethargy of blue
An eclipse of the sea
The version of Bachata Rosa below is performed live and with english subtitles no less. It gives someone unfamiliar with Luis Guerra’s music a glimpse into not only what a great singer / songwriter he is, but what comprises Bachata music. Don’t fret, more songs will feature from Luis Guerra in this music project.
References: Wikipedia – Bachata Rosa