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The title of this song translates as "White Dove", although it is perhaps better known as "Una Paloma Blanca" ("One White Dove"). Written by the Dutch singer-songwriter Johannes Bouwens, it has been both widely recorded and a popular choice for budding musicians. In 1977, an arrangement by Michael Burnett for School Ensemble was published by Chappell of London, copyright 1975, 1977 by Witch/Veronica Music, Holland and Noon Music Ltd of London.
"Paloma Blanca" was the title track of the fifth album by The George Baker Selection. [Bouwens recorded as George Baker both with his band and later as a solo artist]. Running to just under three and a half minutes, and backed by "Dreamboat," the single was a big hit in many countries.
The definitive recording though is that made by Jonathan King as "Una Paloma Blanca." King's version picked up an Ivor Novello Award for Record Of The Year. Unusually, the two versions were released almost simultaneously in the UK and raced up the charts together. In a 1997 interview with The Songwriter magazine, music publisher Terry Noon explained how he heard about the song on a trip to Holland and thought it was a #1 hit. All his connections thought he was mad, he said, but he persisted, and badgered Jonathan King into recording it. At first, King said he would record it only as an album track, but soon relented.
The October 4, 1975 issue of Music Week listed "Una Paloma Blanca" at #10 and "Paloma Blanca" at #11, by which time they had been in the charts for 5 weeks. The following week, "Una Paloma Blanca" peaked at #5, and "Paloma Blanca" at #10.
It has been suggested the song was inspired by the Portuguese "Carnation Revolution" of 1974 - i.e. the liberation of the dove. Clearly it is a song about freedom, but songs about birds frequently have this theme. The John/Taupin composition "Skyline Pigeon
" is strikingly similar, and may have inspired it. This track was re-released as the B Side of "Daniel
" in 1973, and it it is not unlikely Bouwens - consciously or otherwise - borrowed its "Let me wake up in the morning to the smell of new mown hay" for his lyric "I can smell the new mown hay."
With its distinctive flute solo, "Paloma Blanca" has a melody that lends itself readily to parody, and was soon hijacked by The Wurzels for "I Am A Cider Drinker
" which reached #3 in the UK singles chart. (thanks, Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above)
Mark Arm of Mudhoney
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Brad Smith of Blind Melon
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