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José Feliciano Gives Music Lovers an Early Christmas Gift

Remake of classic 'Feliz Navidad' is a prelude to his new album, out Jan. 31

Listen to José Feliciano's new version of ‘Feliz Navidad’ 

'Feliz Navidad’ lyrics

Chorus

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Próspero año y felicidad

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Próspero año y felicidad

Verse 1

I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart

I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart

Chorus

Verse 2 (same as Verse 1)

Chorus

Verse 3 (same as Verse 1)

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Próspero año y felicidad

En español | Get ready for a new, old Christmas earworm.

José Feliciano, 74, has remade his classic “Feliz Navidad.” It's a preholiday gift to whet your appetite for his new album, Behind This Guitar, being released Jan. 31.

"I never would have thought that I would have created a monster with this song,” he told Billboard magazine five years ago.

He's also teasing listeners with the title track, streaming now on more than half a dozen music services, including Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube Music.

Feliciano, who was born in Lares, Puerto Rico, and moved to New York City, at age 5, recorded the original “Feliz Navidad” in the summer of 1970, when he was 24 years old.

The blind-from-birth guitarist had already found fame with his 1968 cover of the Doors’ “Light My Fire,” which spent 12 weeks on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart, peaked at No. 3 and won a Grammy. He followed that success later the same year with “Hi-Heel Sneakers,” which spent eight weeks on the Hot 100, climbing as high as No. 25.

Since then, he has recorded more than 50 albums in both English and Spanish, including his 2008 album, Señor Bachata, which won a Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album. In his 55-year career, he has won seven Grammys.

In 2010, Feliciano's 1970 version of “Feliz Navidad” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2011 the Latin Grammys honored Feliciano with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Feliciano's new arrangement of “Feliz Navidad” leans heavily on the acoustic guitar, for which the singer-songwriter is famous, with less brass than previous versions. Unlike some artists’ remakes of iconic songs, this one won't make you recoil at losing the beloved familiarity of a Christmas classic.

In 1970 his decision to include both English and Spanish in the lyrics, which repeat fewer than 20 words, opened many English-only speakers to the Latin beat. In the song his Spanish lyrics translate to “Merry Christmas, prosperous year and happiness,” essentially “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

"I decided to release it in English and Spanish so that I couldn't be turned off the radio, so that no one could say, ‘Oh, well, it's too Spanish’ or, ‘Well, it's only in English,’ “ he told AARP's Carlos J. Queirós earlier this year. “So I did it in both and made them eat their hearts out."

Listen to José Feliciano's original 1970 recording of ‘Feliz Navidad’ 

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