The original composer for this Cuban folk song is uncertain but is usually 'attributed to a José Fernández Diaz (Wiki)' and written around the 20s. The lyrics relate to a particular woman from Guantánamo, with whom the person had a romantic relationship. If used with different lyrics, it can be a vehicle for social commentary, etc.
There are many versions but the lyrics loosely translate as, "I am an honest man from the land of palm trees, so as I lay dying like a wounded deer seeking refuge in the woods, I want to share the verses of my soul. I have a white rose each for this sincere friend who has given me his hand and for the cruel one who has torn his heart. I also wish to share my fate with the poor people... to me, the mountain brook provides more pleasure than the sea." Possibly a rejected lover!
The Sandpipers, personally, is the most poignant and popular since it was arranged by Peter Seeger. There are other versions by Los Lobos, Trini Lopez, Joan Baez, Jose Feliciano and Julio Iglesias. There are numerous Asian versions of Guantanamera too including one by The Burns, Charlie & His Go-Go Boys, Lisa Lim and Horace and the Girvin Sisters. If readers come across any other version, please contribute. The accompanying song on these vinyls is usually, San Francisco (Some Flowers In Your Hair)
Vinyl Image/Article: from Andy Young.