What better title to describe a lady as classy as Celia.
My dreams became reality when Celia and I recorded together for the first time. I was honored that she chose me. I never thought I would be that lucky again when we did “Tremendo Caché.” When it comes to my work, I have always been very demanding but yet flexible. The new transaction of Celia from Sonora Matancera to Pacheco’s Tumbao was comfortable and familiar for her. I achieved the transition by adding the bongos and the tres, increasing the volume and giving it an Arsenio and Chapotín feeling, without losing the song’s authenticity.
Choosing songs for a new recording is never an easy task. The process took about two to three months, because Quimbara was a tough act to follow. We were worried about what we were going to do on our next album. Luckily, we heard Ismael Rivera’s bomba version of “Cucala”: we loved it right off the bat, and in my mind I could already hear Celia singing it to a salsa beat.
At first, the radio stations wouldn’t touch the song with a ten-foot pole, because “Cucala” was kind of a strong subject matter. But all of that changed, and the song climbed to number one on the Hit Parade.
Recording with Celia was like going to a carnival. From the moment she arrived at the studio, I could feel her positive energy, and immediately our minds began working in unison.
We had a special chemistry, but above all, we had enormous professional respect and immense affection for each other.
We both agreed that the songs on the new album had to be danceable spanning a wide range of styles, and so we came up with the idea of recording a merengue. Celia wanted to sing a merengue, but only if I wrote it; so I said yes, and that night I found inspiration in my memory of all the times she had talked about how much she wanted to visit Santo Domingo. Thus was born “No Aguanto Más.”
When I compose, I try to come up with a catchy hook: something the listener can latch onto and remember. That’s how the phrase "Hasta Santo Domingo A Pie" became popular.
For me, every aspect of making a record is important. Even when I'm choosing the cover design, I'm thinking about the fans. In the case of "Tremendo Caché," the artwork on the cover was originally done to give us an idea of the outfits we would wear for the photo shoot. When the drawing was done, we liked it so much we decided to use it for the cover instead..
That December, we played together in New York on New Year’s Eve. We took advantage of the occasion, and dressed up like the drawing in the album cover which the fans loved.
We had a lot of hits on this album, such as “De La Verdegue,” “Sopa En Botella,” and “Tres Días De Carnaval," among others. Thanks to our fans, these songs have become classics over the years.
Once again, we triumphed. “Cucala” impacted the world and reached the souls of every generation. The rest is history.
In memory of Celia Cruz, my divine goddess... Azucar!
Written by Johnny Pacheco
Cucala / Celia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco
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