Amapola: the story, the lyrics, the meaning of the song

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Amapola is one of the longest-running and most loved songs in the history of music. Very ancient, originally born in 1920, and reinterpreted and adapted on many occasions. Among the most loved versions is that of Andrea Bocelli from 2006, while one of the reasons why the song has entered the hearts of the new generations is for the reinterpretation in Once Upon a Time in America, for which Ennio Morricone used the song to build one of the main musical themes.

Let’s see in this article the story of the song and the meaning of the lyrics.

The story of Amapola

Amapola - Miguel Fleta (Primera grabación 1925)

Amapola is a song written in 1920 by the Spanish composer José María Lacalle García, who later took the pseudonym Joseph Lacalle. He wrote both the music and the lyrics, and in the following years alternative lyrics was written in Spanish, then also in English. One of the first interpretations of the original song is the one you find above, performed by the Spanish tenor Miguel Fleta.

In the 1940s the song reached the top of the US music charts with the version sang by Helen O’Connell and Bob Eberly.

Over the years the song has been adapted and reinterpreted by many great artists, including the three tenors Domingo-Carreras-Pavarotti, Spike Jones and Bing Crosby. The instrumental version by Ennio Morricone is the best known of the versions without lyrics.

The meaning of the lyrics

Amapola is the common Spanish name of the poppy. The original lyrics of the song are in Spanish. You can find it below, along with its English translation.

De amor en los hierros de tu reja
De amor escuché la triste queja
De amor que sonó en mi corazón
Diciéndome así
Con su dulce canción

Amapola, lindísima Amapola
Será siempre mi alma, tuya sola
Yo te quiero, amada niña mía
Igual que ama la flor la luz del día

Amapola, lindísima Amapola
No seas tan ingrata y ámame
Amapola, Amapola
¿Cómo puedes tú vivir tan sola?

Of love between the posts of your gate
Of love I heard the sad lament
Of love that sounded in my heart
telling me so
with its sweet song

Poppy, beautiful Poppy
My soul, yt will always be only yours
I love you, my beloved girl
Just as the flower loves the light of day

Poppy, beautiful Poppy
Don’t be so ungrateful and love me
poppy, poppy
How can you live so alone?

It is obviously a sweet, poetic love song. The author compares love to the relationship between a flower such as a poppy and the sunlight that gives it life. In declaring his love for her, however, the author suggests that the girl he loves is not totally convinced to give herself to him. This is the reason of the question “how can you live so alone?” and of the sad lament that resounds in the heart of the speaker.

This in synthesis the meaning. Being a very poetic piece, you can read something more in it, based on the personal interpretation of the subject. For example, in such a strong comparison with the poppy one can read both a sweet and poetic image of love, but also see the sentiment of love as a need, in the same way that the flower needs the sun to live. Anyone can read any new content in the lyrics, and this is also what makes them fascinating.