In January of 2010 I was doing some searching for an appropriate piece of music for a video I was contemplating making. Of course, when you begin a search on the internet it can easily lead to endless possibilities and distractions. I came across a tune I had stuck in the back of my mind for about 35 plus years.
In 1973 I was serving a 30 month stint at San Vito Air Station, Italy, as an airman with the United States Air Force Security Service (no, I was not a cop). San Vito A.S. was located in the heel of the boot in an area of the country that was mostly agriculture. The largest nearby city was Brindisi, an ancient port city on the Adriatic Sea. The Air Force installation was small, so housing for married couples was limited. When my wife arrived to join me we found a villa in a little resort town called Specchiolla. Specchiola was home to many of the Air Force personnel stationed at the base and home to a few locals. During the summer this quiet, sleepy little village on the coast of the Adriatic Sea became the home to many people on holiday from northern parts of Italy and Germany. There were several restaurants in the village that were only open during the tourist season and were about four or five blocks from our villa. During those summer months they were very active and usually had live music most nights. It was during this time that I first heard a song that would stick with me all these years. We would often hear music on those hot summer nights coming from the restaurants. Our windows were open or we would be walking on the beach and there was one melody that apparently was very popular in Europe at that time. We would hear it at least once a night but I never knew the name of the song or the name of the band that was playing.
My search in January, quite by accident, gave me some answers about this melody in my head and I found out how this simple tune has had an impact on at least two continents, and has been with me in one form or another all of these years.
The origins of the melody have not been firmly established but it is apparent that its modern form became popular in 1974 when it was recorded by the Daniel Sentacruz Ensemble. I don’t know if they were performing in Specchiola when I was there or if it was a local band doing a cover. This YouTube video shows the group and all their hippie garb performing their hit single on television.
Some of you may say, “hey, that sounds familiar”. Well, you’re right. Johnny Mathis recorded a version around 1975 but it was adapted with words and became a hit and a Christmas tradition called, When A Child Is Born. I like this version by Andrea Bocelli:
This tune has been covered by many artists and in many forms. It seems to have been very popular in Europe where it got its start and climbed to top of the charts again in 1994 when German DJ and techno record producer Mark ‘Oh released a version called, Tears Don’t Lie. This Mark ‘Oh guy has got a nice gig. All he has to do is play a record, pump his fist in the air, and yell, “get your hands up” to thousands of screaming fans.
As I said, many artists, many forms. Here is one by a Czech crooner by the name of Karel Gott. His version is called, Měl jsem rád a mám (I loved and I still do). Of course he is accompanied by a bevy of beautiful women.
My favorite version is the original version because it brings back memories of the peaceful little village I called home for two and a years. I am glad there are still remnants of the Daniel Sentacruz Ensemble around and are still performing Soleado to appreciative European crowds.
Peace & solidarity