“Mi noche triste” is a 1916 tango song written by Pascual Contursi on the music of “Lita” by Samuel Castriota. It was recorded by Carlos Gardel in 1917 and is regarded as the first tango canción. It was originally entitled “Pecanta que me amuraste“, which in lunfardo means “woman/lover who isolated/abandoned me”
Percanta que ma amuraste en lo mejor de mi vida, dejandome el alma herida y espinas en el corazon.
Pascual Contursi began writing lyrics for himself to perform while living in Montevideo. He did it in a style that was new to tango and mostly without permission from their author. When he met Gardel in 1917, he presented “Pecanta que me amuraste” to him and for the first time Carlos Gardel included a tango to his repertoire.
Back in Buenos Aires, Carlos Gardel recorded this inovative tango under the title of “Mi noche triste“. He also used his influence to have it included in a sainete entitled “Los dientes del perro” in 1918. The success was such that it opened the way to the creation of a new genre of tango song in the 1920’s. It also marks the beginning of a process of transition towards de creation of the guardia nueva.
Strictly speaking, “Mi noche triste” was not the first tango song by Pascual Contursi. But it is known as the first tango canción because of its popularity and the profound impact it had on the evolution of tango.
Before “Mi noche triste“, tango lyrics had been composed by payadores and performers of the guardia vieja such as Ángel Villoldo and Alfredo Gobbi. However these lyrics were infrequently used and often limited to a refrain which did not allow for a deep exploration of the characters and their story. They were also not of sentimental nature.
“Mi noche triste” is about a man missing a woman. It explores in very intimate details his experience of sorrow, describing familiar objects which have gone missing or became useless; the guitar isn’t making any sound, the lamp doesn’t produce anymore light and yet he leaves the door open at night in case she comes back.
There is a 1952 movie by Lucas Demare entitled “Mi noche triste” based on the life of Pascual Contursi.
Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998.
Gobelle, José. Mujeres y hombres que hicieron el tango. Librerias Libertador, 2002. Print.