Album: Buena Vista Social Club (1997)
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Songplace
  • This song contains lyrics in Spanish which tell the story of a couple - Chan Chan and Juanica - who are building a house and go to the beach to get some sand.
  • The group was named after a private club in Havana, Cuba that was a popular place for music in the 1940s. About 20 Cuban musicians were involved in the project along with American guitarist Ry Cooder. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2
  • Cuban bandleader Compay Segundo wrote this in 1987. He recorded it himself and and it became a very popular song among Latin musicians. In an interview with PBS, Segundo said: "It's a number that has four notes, and four chords. There's very few numbers that you can sing the whole song with four notes. I've been to Santa Clara-Las Villas province and everybody up there knows it; I've been to Santiago de Cuba and everybody there knows it too. I go by a school and when a kid sees me, he says, 'Look, it's Compay Segundo,' and starts singing, 'I'm going from Alto Cedro to Marcane then from Cueto, I'm going to Mayari.'"
  • Compay Segundo: "I didn’t compose Chan Chan, I dreamed it. I dream the music. I sometimes wake up with a melody on the head, I hear the instruments, all very clear. I look over the balcony and I see nobody, but I hear it as if it was played on the street. I don’t know what it was. One day I woke up listening to those four sensible notes, I put them a lyric inspired on a children tale from my childhood, Juanica y Chan Chan, and you see, now it’s sung everywhere." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 3

  • Jorge from Bronx, NyGreat compilations of Great from that era,This album is so great every song is a gem,In fact got to see the movie on PBS stations while doing the public support,lol,Ry Cooder is whom made this possible,in which he was a great bluesman in his heyday.
  • Patequi from Pasadena, CaThe four towns mentioned in ChanChan are located on the Sierra Nipe corridor in the northern sector of the former Oriente province, now Holguín. Mayarí is on the Bay of Nipe-the largest of the 4 townships in sugar cane country. From there the route begins towards the southern side of the province to the province capital of Santiago de Cuba, going through Cueto, Marcané and Alto Cedro.

    Compay is from Siboney-a suburb of Santiago in the southern region of Oriente but used to travel to the morthern side because his auntie was a resident of Marcané, from there he would go to the beaches of Mayarí Bay, hence having sex on the beach metaphors.
  • Keely from Bronx, NyThe lyrics are a metaphor for having sex on the beach.
see more comments

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet SprocketSongwriter Interviews

The "All I Want" singer went through a long depression, playing some shows when he didn't want to be alive.

Movie Stars In Music VideosSong Writing

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos.

Philip CodySongwriter Interviews

A talented lyricist, Philip helped revive Neil Sedaka's career with the words to "Laughter In The Rain" and "Bad Blood."

John ParrSongwriter Interviews

John tells the "St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" story and explains why he disappeared for so long.

Corey HartSongwriter Interviews

The Canadian superstar talks about his sudden rise to fame, and tells the stories behind his hits "Sunglasses At Night," "Boy In The Box" and "Never Surrender."

QueenFact or Fiction

Scaramouch, a hoople and a superhero soundtrack - see if you can spot the real Queen stories.