Category Archives: Poetry

Andate a la Recoleta

“Andate a la Recoleta” is a primitive, anonymous tango of andaluz influence. It was composed around 1880, long before El entrerriano by Rosendo Mendizabal (1897). It is sometimes attributed to Juan Pérez and was regarded by musicologist Carlos Vega as the oldest Argentine tango.

Like other early tangos which were composed in the 1880’s, “Andate a la Recoleta” is little more then a tango andaluz with adapted lyrics reflecting the local expressions and reality of life in Buenos Aires in the late 19th century. These lyrics were transmitted to us through oral tradition and their interpretation seems to be difficult and uncertain. They also seem to vary according to different sources.

The prevailing interpretation perhaps is that “Andate a la Recoleta”  was a song about the expansion of the railways toward the northern neighbourhood of Recoleta and an allusion to a strike or strong protest about poor working conditions such a those described in “El cochero de tramway” by Angel Villoldo.

Andate a la Recoleta, decile al recoletero que prepare una boveda para este pobre cochero. Sí, sí, sí, que Gaudencio se va a fundir. No, no, no, que Gaudencio ya se fundió. Y ven a los mayorales parados en los estribos con un letrero que dice: “calle de Estados Unidos”.

Others have pointed out that “going to la Recoleta” means going to party as the area around the cemetery of Recoleta is where the disreputable nightlife and tango dancing were happening in those days. According to this analysis, “Andate a la Recoleta” was rather a lighthearted allusion to nocturnal escapades in the neighbourhood of Recoleta. (Yes yes yes, tonight is my turn, no no no, tomorrow is yours)

Si, Si, Si, que esta noche me toca a mi. No, no, no, que mañana te toca a vos.

Another version shows how familiar “Andate a la Recoleta” must have been in those days as it goes “yes yes yes, son of a bitch”.

Si, si, si, la puta que te pario. No, no, no, que Gaudencio ya se fundio

Yet another version entitled “Vamos a la Plata” was about the foundation of the city of la Plata. This one describes the new city as a place to go in search of a better life where there is soup, women available for marriage, money and no need to work.

“Vamos a La Plata / la nueva capital / allí se come sopa / y puchero sin sal / Si, si, si, / que La Plata se va a fundar / No, no, no / que La Plata ya se fundó / Vamos a La Plata, / que hay mucho que ver / que se casa un hombre / con una mujer / Vamos a La Plata / que hay mucho que ver / hombres a caballo / mujeres de a pie / Me voy a La Plata / la nueva capital / que allí se gana plata / y no hay que trabajar”

These were all inspired by the “Tango de la casera”, the tango andaluz also known as “Senora casera” or “Tango de los merengazos”.

“Señora casera / ¿qué es lo que s’arquila? / Sala y antesala, / comedó y cocina / ¿Cuánto vale esto? / Vale cinco duros./ Dígale al amo / que les den por…/

“Si, si, si, / A mí me gustan los merengazos / No, no, no, / que a ti te gustan los medios vasos / Si, si, si, / a ti te gustan los pío nonos / No, no. no, / que ya te he dicho que no los como”

__________

[1] Matamoro, Blas. “Orígenes musicales.” In La historia del tango: sus orígenes. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1976. Print.

[2] Horvat, Ricardo. Esos malditos tangos: apuntes para la otra historia. Buenos Aires: Editorial Biblos, 2006. Print.

Los mareados (tango, 1942)

“Los mareados” is one of the most famous tango songs of  all times. The version we know today was written in 1942 by Enrique Cadícamo, at the request of Anibal Troilo, to the music of Juan Carlos Cobián.

One day in 1942, as he was beginning to perform with his orchestra at the cabaret Tibidabo, Anibal Troilo came to Enrique Cadícamo with an old instrumental recording by Osvaldo Fresedo. It was a 1922 recording of a tango by Juan Carlos Cobián entitled “Los dopados”. Troilo felt strongly inspired to rearrange and present it as soon as possible and he wanted Cadícamo to write the lyrics for him.

Cadícamo says he hesitated at first because the composer Juan Carlos Cobián was away in Mexico and had not given his consent for the project, but Troilo convinced him that it would be a winning situation for everyone if “Los dopados” resurfaced twenty years later as a hit. Cadícamo agreed to write the lyrics and changed the title to “Los mareados”.

Shortly after, the new song was premiered at the Tibidabo by the orchestra of Anibal Troilo with Roberto Fiorentino. “Los mareados” became one of Troilo’s greatest hits and the recording they made on June 15, 1942, remains among the great classics of the golden age.

When Juan Carlos Cobián returned to Argentina he could only be pleased to find his music was in vogue, but what Troilo and Cadícamo apparently didn’t know is that “Los Dopados” already had registered lyrics by Raul Doblas and Alberto Weisbach.

Bebe ese olvido que te ofrecen, que acallara tu almita herida, y asi podra, embrutecida, amar, beber, reir…

Busca del vicio el triste ensueño, bebe el olvido en su veneno, que si el beber hace olvidar, sera esa tu mayor felicidad.

Drink the forgiveness which isare  offered to you, which calms your soul, so you can, numbed, love, drink and laugh…

Go for the sad illusion of the vice, drink the forgiveness in its poison, and if drinking makes you forget, let that be your greatest happiness.

“Los Dopados” by Juan Carlos Cobian, Raul Doblas and Alberto Weisbach had been composed in 1922 for a play which was presented at the Teatro Porteño. It was recorded in 1923 by Roberto Diaz with the original lyrics and by Osvaldo Fresedo in instrumental version. Though “Los Mareados” are now one of the most famous Argentine songs of all times, the original lyrics by Doblas-Weisbach have fallen into oblivion.

In 1943, “Los Mareados” was banned by the new military government along with many other tangos which contain lunfardo terms or allusions to drunkness. Cadícamo wrote a new version entitled “En mi pasado”, which in spite of its beauty, and like many other pieces which were rewritten at that time, was hardly ever used or recorded.

When the prohibition was lifted in 1949, “Los Mareados” gained back its popularity. Since then it has been recorded by countless artists of all styles including Hector Mauré, Floreal Ruiz, Suzana Rinaldi, Raul Lavié, Astor Piazzolla, Mercedes Sosa with Roberto Goyeneche, Adriana Varela and pop singer Andrés Calamaro.

___

[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

 

 

Garua (tango, 1943)

“Garua” is a 1943 tango by Anibal Troilo and Enrique Cadícamo. It was recorded by Troilo with Francisco Fiorentino for the label RCA Victor on august 4, 1943. Two days later, Pedro Laurenz recorded his own version with Alberto Podestá under the label Odeon.

“Garua” is the second of 3 tangos composed by Anibal Troilo with the lyrics of Enrique Cadicamo, the other two other being “Pa’ que bailen los muchachos” (1942) and “Naipe” (1944). According to Cadícamo, Troilo presented the music to him one night at the Tibidabo and asked if he could write the lyrics. As he walked home that night there was a very light rain or drizzle falling over him and this is where he conceived the first verses of his famous tango. [1]

¡Garúa! Solo y triste por la acera, va este corazón transido con tristeza de tapera.

Drizzle! Sad and lonely by the sidewalk, goes this hear striken with the sadness of an abandoned house.

Garua is a lunfardo term of Quechua origin which translates to “drizzle”. [4] The rains is a recurrent theme in tango and has been evoked directly or indirectly in many other pieces such as “El café de Los Angelitos”, “El ultimo café”, “Charlemos”, “Tarde gris”, and “La noche que te fuiste” as a symbol of loneliness.

It wasn’t long after that night when he walked back home under the drizzele that Cadícamo came back to el Tibidabo with “Garua” and just a few days later Troilo was rehearsing with Francisco Fiorentino.

The 1953 recording by Troilo and Fiorentino was followed by another one in 1962 by Troilo and Roberto Goyeneche who recorded two other versions with Raul Garello and Astor Piazzolla. Other well known interpretations of “Garua” include those of Hugo del Carril and Adriana Varela.

—-

[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

[2] Garúa. Tangos al Bardo, 2013. Online. http://tangosalbardo.blogspot.com.ar/2013/07/garua.html

[3] El tango y la lluvia. El Litoral, 2011. Online.  http://www.ellitoral.com/index.php/diarios/2011/08/20/escenariosysociedad/SOCI-02.html

[4] Diccionario lunfardo. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/comunidad/lunfardo/?i=G&s=all

 

La ultima curda

“La ultima curda” is one of the last great poems of the golden age of tango. It was written in 1956 by Catúlo Castillo to the music of Anibal Troilo. It tells the story of a deeply disillusioned man, talking to a bandoneon about the futility of life and the profound emotions he feels at the sound of a tango.

Curda is a lunfardo term which means “drunkenness” or “inebriation”; thus La ultima curda would translate as “the last  inebriation”. It is the third of a series of tangos which presents the bandoneon as a living character and friend of the lonely man in the style of “Che bandoneon” by Homero Manzi. It also resonates with the work of Enrique Discepolo as it takes tango poetry to the deepest level and ultimate apogee of existentialism.

¡Ya s’e, no me dig’as! ¡Tienes razon! La vida es una herida absurda, y todo es tan fugaz que es una curda, ¡Nada mas! Mi confesión.

I know, no need to say! You are right! Life is an absurd wound, and everything is so ephemeral that it’s as good as getting drunk to even bother telling my story (talking to the bandoneon).

In his memoirs, Roberto Rivero remembers a beautiful summer evening when they were rehearsing “La ultima curda” in Troilo’s apartment on Parana street, near Avenida Corrientes and the cabaret Chanteclerc. They were making the last arrangements when they noticed a crowd was amassed in the street, interrupting the late night traffic, so they went out on the balcony and performed “La ultima curda” for the first time in public. It was such a magical night it felt a bit strange to sing “life is an absurd wound”, said Rivero in “Una luz de almacen”. 

“La ultima curda” was recorded for the first time in 1956 by Anibal Troilo with Edmundo Rivero for the label TK. It became a classic of Troilo’s repertoire; he recorded another version with Goyeneche in 1963, followed by an in instrumental version in 1969. Both Roberto Goyeneche and Edmundo Rivero kept the song in their repertoire as well and recorded it many times over.

___

[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

[2] Adet, Manuel. La ultima curda. El Litoral. Online.  http://www.ellitoral.com/index.php/diarios/2013/03/09/escenariosysociedad/SOCI-03.html

[2] Riveo, Edmundo. Una luz de almacen. Buenos Aire: Emecé editores, 1982. Print.

Catúlo Castillo

Catúlo Castillo was a pianist, composer, director and poet of the guardia nueva. Son of  Jose Gonzalez Castillo, in his youth he distinguished himself a musician and composer. After the death of his friend Homero Manzi in the 1950’s, he revealed himself as the last great poet of the golden age.

Ovidio Catúlo Gonzalez Castillo was born in Buenos Aires in 1906. He grew up in Chile where his father José Gonzalez Castillo exiled himself until 1913 because of his political ideas.

Back in Buenos Aires, the family moved to Boedo where Catúlo began learning the violin with Juan Cianciarullo. By age 17 he was an accomplished musician and boxer. He won the national championship of lightweight in Argentina and almost reached the Olympic games of 1924. That same year he won the third place in a contest organized by Max Glucksmann with his tango Organito de la tarde.

During the 1920’s, Catúlo Castillo definitely turned to tango as he traveled Europe with his father and later with his own orchestra. As a composer he produced many tangos including Organito de la tarde”“Silbando”, “El Aguacero”, “Papel picado” and “El circo se va” with the lyrics of his father Jose Gonzalez Catillo, “La violeta” (1930) with Nicolás Olivari and “Viejo ciego” (1926) with his friends Sebastian Piana and Homero Manzi. He is the author of both music and lyrics of “Caminito del taller” (way to the shop), a politically engaged tango which was recorded by Carlos Gardel in 1925.

In the 1930’s and 40’s Catúlo Castillo became increasingly engaged with poetry. With his friend Sebastian Piana and other composers he wrote remarkable pieces such as “Tinta roja” and “Caseron de tejas” (1941). In 1945 he began working with Anibal Troilo with whom he produced his best work as a poet in the 1950’s.

The 1950’s were critical years for tango as rock and roll was taking over in popularity with the youth. The great poets of the golden age were gone or had diminished their activities and it became increasingly difficult for tango orchestras to get work. Feeling perhaps that tango was coming to an end and building on the work of every other authors who came before him from Evaristo Carriego to Enrique Discepolo, Catúlo Castillo took tango poetry to it’s last apogee with titles such as “El ultimo café” and “La ultima curda” where the bandoneon cries in to the lonely man’s imagination “life is an absurd wound”.

Other tangos of that period by Catúlo Castillo include “Domani”, “La calesita”, “El cafe de los Angelitos” and “El patio de la Morocha”.

Besides his activities as a lyricist, Catúlo Castillo had an active professional life. In the 1950’s he became President of the SAIDAC and president of the Comisión Nacional de Cultura . He was declared Ciudadano Illustre of the City of Buenos Aires in 1974 and died the following year at age 69.

___

[1] Gobello, José. Mujeres y hombres que hicieron el tango. Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de Cultura Argentina, 2002. Print.

[2] Baccarelli, Nicolás Sosa. Catúlo Castillo o el existencialismo en la poesia del tango. Correveidile. Online. http://www.correveidile.com.ar/2014/11/12/catulo-castillo-o-el-existencialismo-en-la-poesia-del-tango/

[3] Tálice, Roberto A. “Evocación y ubicación de José Gonzalez Castillo”. In La historia del tango: Los poetas (I). Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1977.

Alma de Bohemio (tango,1914)

“Alma de bohemio” is one of the oldest classics of the tango repertoire. It was composed in 1914 by Roberto Firpo for a play by Florencio Parravicini.

Parravicini was a regular at the cabaret Armenonville where Firpo used to perform with his leading edge tango orchestra. He hired Firpo to perform in his play “Alma de bohemio” which was premiered at the Teatro Argentino in 1914. Later Firpo edited it to be performed as a “tango de concierto”. [1]

Though the musical structure of “Alma de bohemio” remains that of a tango of the guardia vieja, it is said that it shows some refinement in the melody. Firpo was an innovative musician, a pioneer of tango and a visionary in many ways.

Like most compositions at that time,  “Alma de bohemio” was originally an instrumental piece. The lyrics we know today were composed well into the era of  the tango canción by Juan Andres Caruso who often wrote lyrics for Carlos Gardel.

Peregrino y soñador, cantar

quiero mi fantasía

y la loca poesía que hay en mi corazón

 

Traveler and dreamer, to sing

I want (to sing) my fantasy

and the mad poetry which is in my heart

[2]

“Alma de bohemio” was recorded many times by Roberto Firpo himself as well as many other orchestras, singers and musicians. These include the Orquesta Tipica Victor, Francisco Canaro, Rodolfo Biagi, Osvaldo Fresedo, Alfredo de Angelis, Ricardo Tanturi,  Osvaldo Pugliese, Ignacio Corsini, Alberto Castillo, Los Tubatango, Hugo Díaz, Astor Piazzolla and Plácido Domingo. “Alma de bohemio” was featured in the movie “Tango in 1933 with the voice of Alberto Gómez.

Alberto Podestá is famous for his interpretation of “Alma de bohemio” with long extensions of the second verse “cantaaaar” as recorded by Pedro Laurenz in 1943. π

__

[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Pint.

[2] Paz, Alberto. Alma de Bohemio/Bohemian’s soul. Planet tango, 2011. Online.  https://letrasdetango.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/alma-de-bohemio/

Mano a mano (tango, 1923)

“Mano a mano” is one of the most famous tangos of Carlos Gardel‘s repertoire. It was originally written by Celedonio Flores with the music of Gardel and Jose Razzano. It was recorded for the first time in 1923.

Like many other tangos of the early 1920’s, “Mano a mano” is a sentimental song about a man who lost a woman. It is based on the personal story of a young singer named Nunciatta who told Celedonio Flores about his last love affair before he died of tuberculosis. Celedonio was moved and turned Nuciatta’s story into a poem which Carlos turned into a tango in the style of  Mi noche triste.

Carlos Gardel was not yet fully associated with tango at the time but “Mano a mano” became one of the highlights of his repertoire. The 1923 acoustic recording by Gardel was followed by another one in 1928 with microphone and electrical technologies.

“Mano a mano” was featured in the series of short films by Carlos Gardel in 1930, turning it one of the first video clips ever produced. [3] Other artists who recorded “Mano a mano” in the 1930’s include Charlo (1934), Francisco Canaro with Roberto Maida (1938) and Hugo del Carril (1939).

Following the prohibition of lunfardo in 1943, Celedonio Flores wrote an alternative version of “Mano a mano” whitout the controversial lunfardo terms. “Rechiflado en mi tristeza” was replaced by “Te recuerdo en mi tristeza” and so on. [2] This new version entitled “Con gomina” was hardly ever used by anyone but it was recorded by Francisco Lomuto with Alberto Rivera in 1944.

Since the prohibition was lifted in the 1950’s, “Mano a mano” has been interpreted by various prominent signers including Ranko Fujisawa (1955), Edmundo Rivero (1962), Julio Sosa (1961) and Roberto Goyeneche (1978). Recent recordings include pop, rock and ranchera versions by Julio Iglesias (1996), Andres Calamaro (2006) and Vicente Fernandez (2014).

Two alternative lyrics have been published to this day, one by Humberto Correa where the woman exposes her point of view and reveals the protagonist of “Mano a mano” was abandoned in the first place. The second is by Chilean Pepe Aguirre who depicts the protagonist as a man who neglected his  woman and got only what he deserved. [1] π

____

[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998.

[2] Taboada, Pablo. La otra letra de Mano a mano. Investigación tango, 2013. Online http://www.investigaciontango.com/inicio/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=181:mano-a-mano-y-la-censura-lunfarda&catid=41:lunfardo&Itemid=61

[3] Rasore, Alberto. Gardel en los cortometrajes de 1930. Buenos Aires Antiguo, 2006. Online. http://www.buenosairesantiguo.com.ar/carlosgardel22.html