Catrina and her Skull

Catrina Y Su Calavera was inspired by a local craft beer made with lime zest and aged in tequila barrels, called La Calavera Catrina. La Calavera Catrina is a famous Mexican lithograph of the early 1900s that inspired much of today’s Dia de los Muertos iconography. It tells the tale of man who encounters and falls in love with a beautiful and mysterious woman who carries a skull.

In a bar, in La Calera
I met Catrina and her skull
I saw her, coming down the stairs
Fresh as the spring air

She sat down next to me
Her face, beautiful and sacred
She flashed sparks of sin from her eyes
Her smile left me mesmerized

She offered me a shot of tequila
Ay ay ay ay ay ay ay
When suddenly a wave a fog appeared
Ay ay ay ay ay ay ay
Catrina and her skull
Most beautiful and enchanting
With eyes like the stars
Most beautiful and enchanting

I didn’t know if she was a fantasy
Or a phantom that lives in nightmares
A beauty, made from the rib
Her spell brought me to my knees

Catrina finally kissed me
Ay ay ay ay ay ay ay
A kiss I felt deep within me (in my bones)
Ay ay ay ay ay ay ay
Catrina and her skull
Most beautiful and enchanting
With eyes like the stars
Most beautiful and enchanting

  • Paulo Franco
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Catrina Y Su Calavera
  • Project Type:
  • Length:
    4 minutes 16 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 15, 2016
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Student Project:
  • Mountain Stage New Song Songwriting Contest
    November 16, 2016
    Finalist, South East Region
Artist Biography

Paulo Franco is a Richmond, Virginia based bilingual singer/songwriter. He has opened for the likes of nationally touring singer/songwriters such as Chris Knight, Adam Carroll and Bloodshot Records artists Cory Branan and Austin Lucas. His music has been featured on radio stations XL102's Studio B, WRIR and WDCE in Richmond, WNRN and WTJU in Charlottesville, VA and WHRO in Hampton Roads, VA. He was also been featured on WTVR Channel 6's Virginia This Morning. In 2012, he was named a finalist in the Southeast region of the Mountain Stage NewSong songwriting contest. He was the only Virginia songwriter so selected in 2012.
His latest release is The Last Card. Emily Hinde of No Depression Magazine calls it “A phenomenal Sophomore record.” Louise Parker of Paste Magazine calls it “possibly the most sincere record I have heard all year.” Richmond’s Style Weekly calls it “brilliant.” The album features performances by Daniel Clarke of Ryan Adams' current backing band The Shining, as well as performances by Stephen McCarthy of The Long Ryders and Jayhawks, and Silos founding member Bob Rupe. The album was produced and engineered by Bob Rupe at P&P Studios in Richmond, Virginia.

Paulo’s music is a reflection of growing up a first generation American. Although he was born and raised in the United States, Paulo's parents hail from Medellín, Colombia. He grew up with American music, but the music of his parent's homeland was also a part of that soundtrack. His Americana music is a blend of rock, old school country, alt-country and blues. The music draws heavily from influences like Steve Earle, Hank Williams, John Hiatt, Slaid Cleaves, Chris Knight, the Gram Parsons inspired music of the Rolling Stones, the Drive By Truckers and The Grateful Dead. Paulo has also begun writing songs in Spanish, fusing traditional Latin and Colombian rhythms with American Rock and Roll. That fusion can be heard on his homage to Medellín, La Estrella del País, along with Llorando and Catrina Y Su Calavera, the tale of man overcome by the beauty of a mysterious woman he meets and a shot of tequila. The song was inspired by a beer called La Calavera Catrina, brewed by Central Virginia’s Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery. The heart of his music is storytelling, and his family is a great source of inspiration - from the love story of Paulo's parents in "Married in a Black Dress" to the roller coaster emotions of leaving his daughter behind for her first year of college in "Rolling Back to Raleigh." Paulo is a songwriter who proudly wears all of his emotions on his sleeves.

He has performed as a solo artist and with his band The Freightliners (Dan Sessler on lead guitar, Dave Hess on drums, Chad Bennett/Doug Thompson on bass) in venues throughout Virginia, Maryland DC and North Carolina, and he has also performed as a solo artist in Austin, TX, Boston, MA, Ohio and Johnson City, TN and throughout Colombia, South America.

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Artist Statement

Music has always been at the core of my existence from the time my maternal grandmother sang to me in Spanish in my crib, to the time of my first rock concert as a 13 year old in 1977, Kiss (with openers AC/DC and yes, it was Bon Scott).
Although I pursued music in high school and college, real life got in the way. Law school, a legal career and soon after marriage caused me to shelve my guitars. A divorce in 2005 made me take a good look at my life - where it was and where it was going. It was soon thereafter that I decided music would no longer take a back seat. Soon after divorcing I interviewed for a position at the Virginia State Bar. I listed guitar under skills. The Ethics Counsel told the Bar Counsel that hired me that he needed a guitar player for his band. I got the job and I got the gig. I've never looked back.
Songwriting for me is a vocation. It took getting remarried to a supportive wife with a loving daughter that gave me the strength to explore the darker and unhappier moments of life and to express them in song, and the courage to express the pain and sorrow of everyday living and even the loss of friends. Of course, being in a better place also allows me to mine the happy and simple moments in life. Which is why my family are a major source of inspiration.
I never imagined when I first took the stage again in over ten years in a cover band that I would be where I am today as an artist and songwriter. It has more than exceeded my wildest expectations. The impetus to continue seeking improvement and new heights in my music career is the music itself. While I would love to play for a large audience in a major club or theater and I seek to take my career to the next level like that, I'd still play every day if the only creatures listening were my cats. They are my biggest fans and they let me know when a new song idea is good or not. They will stay if good, leave if I need to be "moving right along."
Music for the sake of music is food for the soul. The greatest fringe benefit of being a musician and a songwriter is the journey. In the last ten years I have made amazing friends among the many musicians I've encountered and played with both in Richmond and out on the road. I take a little piece of each of them with me. They have all made me a better musician, a better songwriter, and better human being. That part of my career has been the best reward.