What's this song [mentioned in the Maltese Falcon]?

I realize it has been 9 years since this thread started, but I just came across this question after re-reading the Falcon, earlier this week.

The Cuban composer Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes wrote the song, En Cuba. In 1923, the American composer Frank La Forge published an arrangement of the title for piano. You can purchase a copy of the publication on Amazon, here.

Since Hammett’s original short stories, The Whosis Kid, and The Gutting of Couffignal, from which he drew many of the characters and plot points when writing The Maltese Falcon, were published in 1925 in Black Mask magazine, it stands to reason that the song would have made it to Hammett’s ear at some point in those two years since its publication in the United States.

By 1929, when Hammett began publishing the novel in Black Mask, my guess is the song was fairly well known, but not commonly performed or recorded. I’m still hunting for a recording; I’ll keep you folks updated.

Thank you for the learned response!

That’s what I love about The Straight Dope: you ask a question, and in only nineteen short years, it’s answered!

En Cuba no Falta Nada


Kudos for finding that! I have to say I’d still side with the Irving Berlin tune. “I’ll See You In C.U.B.A.” is whistle-able enough and everyone sang everyone else’s hits back then, so it might have played on the radio for years.

“En Cuba no Falta Nada” is intriguing. I don’t know when it was written and translations seem to refer to Castro (the lyricwriter is not a fan). Perhaps there was an earlier number that had a sentiment similar to the Irving Berlin song, and also had the constantly repeated title line “In Cuba You Want For Nothing”?