Guantanamera (The Sandpipers)

20 OCTOBER 1966


The Sandpipers' sublime ‘Guantanamera’ was at its peak UK chart position of #7 on this day in 1966. It reached #9 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, and #3 on Adult Contemporary. 

The easy-listening vocal trio (fourth or fifth members, always female, sang in the background) had been recording since 1962 without commercial success, so this was their first hit of any kind. Their only other notable hit was 'Come Saturday Morning' in 1969, which reached #17 in the US in 1970. 

‘Guantanamera’ is a patriotic Cuban song, using a poem by the Cuban poet José Martí for the lyrics. The Sandpipers' version is based on an arrangement by Pete Seeger's folk group The Weavers, which used a tune credited to Joseíto Fernández. Seeger intended for the song to be sung in Spanish as a symbol of unity between the American and Cuban peoples.

B-side: 'What Makes You Dream, Pretty Girl?'
Recorded and released: 1966
Highest chart position: #7 (UK), #9 (US)
Length: 3:10
Label: A&M
Writers: Joseíto Fernández, Héctor Angulo, José Martí, Pete Seeger
Producers: Tommy LiPuma

Guantanamera (The Sandpipers)

(Translated English lyrics)
'Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera
Guantanamera, guajira, guantanamera

I am a truthful man; I come from where the palm tree grows,
I am a truehearted man, who comes from where the palm trees grow,
Before I lay down my life, I long to coin the verses of my soul

Chorus

I plant a snowy rose in January and July,
I grow a snowy rose in January and July,
For the open-hearted friend who puts a helping hand in mine

Chorus

The words that I write are radiant crimson and emerald bright,
The poems that I write are radiant crimson and emerald bright,
My verses are a wounded deer seeking shelter in the mountain height.'

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