George Gershwin and Irving Caesar wrote “Spanish Love” for the Winter Garden’s Broadway Brevities of 1920. This is one of three Gershwin songs in this scandalously racy show. The song tells the story of two lovers in Spain: boy meets girl, girl meets courtly horseman, courtly horseman loses to boy, boy and girl sing about being lovers in Spain. So how could this song NOT become a Gershwin standard?
Musically, “Spanish Love” is fairly simple for a Gershwin composition. My own rendition has a swing rhythm probably not found in Hal van Rensellear’s original stage performance. As this was one of Gershwin’s exotic locale songs, like “Limehouse Night” for example, it likely would have been arranged to sound more stereotypically Spanish. I would love to hear someone’s idea of what that would have sounded like. The midi file is available upon request for any adventurous arrangers out there.
The best known version of this song, since it may never have been recorded on released on record, is Vincent Youmans’ piano roll version which is heavy on the ragtime and light on the Iberia. Gershwin’s fairly staid melody is hardly recognizable amidst the flash of Youmans’ performance. Now the melody is back and recognizable for all to download and play. (Note: The first three notes of the song are each quarter notes in the original sheet music. I changed the last two notes to a dotted eighth and a sixteenth to make the rhythm more interesting [to me anyway]. That rhythmic change appears throughout the song. If you want to play straight quarter notes, by all means follow your musical instincts!)
Download the fake-book style sheet music to “Spanish Love” here: Spanish Love
Here is my rendition of Gershwin’s “Spanish Love” arranged for harp, guitar and strings, somewhat inspired by Joaquín Rodrigo’s arrangement on his quintessentially Spanish work Concierto de Aranjuez.
Here is the piano jazz trio version of “Spanish Love”
Lyrics to “Spanish Love” by Irving Caesar:
Verse 1: At last I’m returning. My heart has been burning.
For months I’ve been yearning for Spanish love in Spain.
I know that the place is a lover’s oasis
where gay Spanish faces will smile at me again.
Chorus: Spanish love, my heart’s a ball of fire.
Spanish love, volcano of desire.
If your cares and worries you would banish,
learn to live and love just like the Spanish.
Spanish love, for every girl and boy has made a land of joy.
It fills you, it thrills you, it chills you, it nearly kills you.
Spanish love, there’s none I think more of than my own Spanish love.
Verse 2: He called me ‘chiquita,’ his sweet señorita,
till once on the street a gay cavalier there came.
My lover he waited. This cavalier he hated. He met him, ’twas fated,
and now I’m his again. That’s (Spanish love).