A special edition of The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon aired Tuesday night, shining a light on the music and culture of Puerto Rico. Of the episode’s featured segments was a heartwarming rendition of the 1942 song, “En Mi Viejo San Juan” — performed by José Feliciano, famed singer-songwriter of the 1970 Christmas anthem “Feliz Navidad,” and reggaeton superstar Ozuna, who was named YouTube’s most globally watched artist in 2018.
A traditional bolero, the story behind “En Mi Viejo San Juan” rings familiar to many stateside Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rican composer and singer Noel Estrada first penned the song for his brother Eloy, who grew homesick for his island after being deployed to Panama during World War II. The song was named the official city anthem of San Juan in 1971, and became a special theme for Puerto Ricans who migrated to the contiguous United States. Both Ozuna and Feliciano share the experience of leaving their island for New York City as children; which makes their brightly contrasting harmonies all the more evocative. “One day I will return,” sings Feliciano heartily in Spanish, “To look for my love/To dream again/In my old San Juan.”