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The Meaning Behind The Song: Mexican Hat Dance by Allan Sherman

The Meaning Behind The Song: Mexican Hat Dance by Allan Sherman

When you hear the words “Mexican Hat Dance,” what comes to mind? For most of us, it’s the image of a man wearing a sombrero with a traditional Mexican dance in the background. But what’s the story behind the song “Mexican Hat Dance”? Let’s dive into the meaning behind the song and how it came to be.

Background Information: Allan Sherman

Allan Sherman was an American comedy writer, TV producer, and performer. He was born in 1924 in Chicago, Illinois, and died in 1973 in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 48. Sherman was best known for his parodies of popular songs, including “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” and “Camp Grenada.” He was also a songwriter, and one of his best-known songs is “Mexican Hat Dance.”

Origins of the Song

“Mexican Hat Dance,” also known as “Jarabe Tapatio,” is a traditional Mexican folk dance that originated in the 18th century and is still performed today. The dance features a man wearing a sombrero and a woman wearing a brightly colored dress. The dance is accompanied by a mariachi band and involves intricate footwork and movements.

Allan Sherman was inspired to write a parody of the song after hearing a recording of the dance on the radio. He took the main melody and added his own lyrics, creating a humorous take on the traditional Mexican tune. The song was released in 1962 on the album “My Son, the Folk Singer” and became an instant hit.

The Lyrics

The lyrics of “Mexican Hat Dance” are playfully irreverent and humorous, poking fun at the traditional Mexican dance and its accompanying music. The song opens with the lines:

“They’re dancing for pennies, and nickels, and dimes
They haven’t got much music, but they have a lot of rhymes”

The rest of the song continues in this vein, with Sherman using his trademark wordplay and puns to create a lighthearted and entertaining parody. Some of the most memorable lines include:

“Señorita, won’t you please
Take off that sombrero and put on these”

And:

“Dancing ev’ry night and day
To the tune of ‘ay-yi-yi-yi'”

Legacy of “Mexican Hat Dance”

“Mexican Hat Dance” was an instant hit when it was released in 1962 and has remained popular ever since. The song has been covered by numerous artists over the years, including Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Chet Atkins, and Lawrence Welk. It has also been used in films, TV shows, and commercials, as well as being a popular choice for ring tones.

But the song’s legacy goes beyond its popularity. “Mexican Hat Dance” is a testament to the power of music to bridge cultures and bring people together. The traditional Mexican dance that inspired the song has become a beloved icon of Mexican culture, and the humor and irreverence of Sherman’s parody have only added to its enduring appeal.

Conclusion

“Mexican Hat Dance” is a classic song that has stood the test of time, thanks to its catchy melody, clever lyrics, and humor. Allan Sherman’s parody of the traditional Mexican dance has not only entertained and delighted audiences for generations but has also helped to keep the original dance and its accompanying music alive and relevant.

FAQs

1. Who originally wrote and performed “Mexican Hat Dance”?

“Mexican Hat Dance” is a traditional Mexican folk dance that has been performed for centuries. The melody has been credited to a number of composers over the years, and the exact origins of the song are unknown. Allan Sherman wrote and performed a parody of the traditional song, which became popular in the 1960s.

2. What is the meaning behind the lyrics of “Mexican Hat Dance”?

The lyrics of “Mexican Hat Dance” are a humorous parody of the traditional Mexican folk dance that inspired the song. The lyrics poke fun at the dance and its accompanying music, using wordplay and puns to create a lighthearted and entertaining parody.

3. Who has covered “Mexican Hat Dance” over the years?

“Mexican Hat Dance” has been covered by numerous artists over the years, including Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Chet Atkins, and Lawrence Welk. It has also been used in films, TV shows, and commercials, as well as being a popular choice for ring tones.

4. What is the traditional Mexican dance that inspired “Mexican Hat Dance”?

The traditional Mexican dance that inspired “Mexican Hat Dance” is known as “Jarabe Tapatio.” The dance features a man wearing a sombrero and a woman wearing a brightly colored dress. The dance is accompanied by a mariachi band and involves intricate footwork and movements.

5. When was Allan Sherman’s version of “Mexican Hat Dance” released?

Allan Sherman’s version of “Mexican Hat Dance” was released in 1962 on the album “My Son, the Folk Singer.” The song became an instant hit and has remained popular ever since.

6. What is the legacy of “Mexican Hat Dance”?

“Mexican Hat Dance” is a classic song that has stood the test of time, thanks to its catchy melody, clever lyrics, and humor. The song has become an icon of Mexican culture, and its popularity has helped to keep the traditional Mexican dance that inspired it alive and relevant.

7. What is the significance of the sombrero in “Mexican Hat Dance”?

The sombrero is a traditional Mexican hat that is often associated with Mexican culture. In the context of “Mexican Hat Dance,” the sombrero is worn by the man performing the dance and is a symbol of Mexican tradition and culture.

8. Why is “Mexican Hat Dance” sometimes called “Jarabe Tapatio”?

“Jarabe Tapatio” is the traditional Mexican name for the folk dance that inspired “Mexican Hat Dance.” The name translates to “the tap dance of Jalisco,” which is the region of Mexico where the dance originated.

9. How has “Mexican Hat Dance” been used in pop culture over the years?

“Mexican Hat Dance” has been used in a variety of ways in pop culture over the years. The song has been covered by numerous artists and has been used in films, TV shows, and commercials. It has also become a popular choice for ringtones and other mobile phone alerts.

10. What is the significance of the dress worn by the woman in “Mexican Hat Dance”?

The dress worn by the woman in “Mexican Hat Dance” is a traditional Mexican dress known as a “china poblana.” The dress is often brightly colored and features intricate embroidery and patterns. In the context of the dance, the dress is a symbol of Mexican tradition and culture.

11. How has “Mexican Hat Dance” influenced other forms of music over the years?

“Mexican Hat Dance” has had a significant influence on other forms of music over the years. The song’s catchy melody and rhythm have been incorporated into a variety of musical styles, including jazz, rock, and pop. The song’s popularity has also helped to popularize traditional Mexican music and dance around the world.

12. What is the message behind “Mexican Hat Dance”?

“Mexican Hat Dance” is a playful and irreverent song that doesn’t have a particular message or moral. The song is simply a humorous parody of the traditional Mexican folk dance that inspired it, and it’s meant to be enjoyed for its catchy melody and clever lyrics.

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