“Que Vachache” was the first of a serie of socially engaged tangos by Enrique Santos Discepolo. It depicts a society where money and social status are taking over moral values and other ideals such as love and integrity.
This is Discepolos’s second tango and his first attempt at depicting the absurdity of modern life. Here he speaks through the voice of a woman who tells her man what she thinks of him.
Get out of here and don’t you come back. I never want to be hungry again. You think you can change the world?
Go throw yourself in the river! Don’t bother me with your conscience!
What are you gonna do, values are out of fashion and Jesus is no better then a thief.
Money, lots of money. I want to live!
“Que vachache” is an expression which means “what are you gonna do”. This is not lunfardo according to Jose Gobello but rather a silly or childish way of saying “que vas a hacer”. The rest of the text contains many lunfardo terms, some of which were invented or used in a creative way by Discepolo.
However interesting or clever, this tango did not attract much attention at first. At the time he wrote it, Discepolo was a well-known playwrite and the author of another tango, “Bizcochito”, which is of no particular interest and remains forgotten to this day. Success came two years later with “Esta noche me emborracho” (1928) and brought attention on “Que vachache“.
This sort of social comment is very characterist of Discepolo’s work. Though he did explore and master other themes, this one remains strongly associated to him. This series of tangos deploring the loss of moral values in modern society culminates with “Yira Yira“ (1929) and “Cambalache“ (1935).
Que vachache was premired by Mecha Delgado in Montevideo and Tita Merello in Buenos Aires in 1926. It was recorded by Carlos Gardel in 1927.
Peñas, Alberto. Recopilación antológica para una sociologia tanguera. Corregidor: Buenos aires, 1998.