Category Archives: Tango

Esta noche me emborracho (tango, 1927)

“Esta noche me emborracho” is a 1928 tango by Enrique Santos Discepolo. It tells the story of an old man who ran into a woman he used to love. He finds her vulgar and ugly and is overwheled with regrets at the though of the foolish things he did for her.

To think that I was crazy for her! That for her beauty I commited treason.. lost my honour.. fell to my knees.. lost my friends and neglected my mother. All of this to end up here with nothing and to see her old and ugly.

“Esta noche me emborracho” means “tonight I’m getting drunk”, and so the old man says tonight he’s getting really drunk so he wont think about it.

This is the third tango writen by Discepolo and his first success as a lyricist.  Discepolo was a well-known playright and it was common in the 1920’s for tangos to be featured in popular plays. His two previous compositions were “Bizcochito” and “Que vachache“.

On a 1947 radio Belgrano program called “asi nacieron mis tangos”, Discepolo said this sort of poetry came to him following the death of a friend for whom he felt deeply. He began noticing the reality of misfortune, the loss of youth and beauty, and the unavoidable coming of death. This is the kind of pain he wanted to express in this tango.

“Esta noche me emborracho” was premiered atTeatro Maipo by Azucena Maizani and quikly became a huge success. It was recorded that same year by various singers and orchestras including Alberto Vila, Azucena Maizani, Ignacio Corsini, Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro with Charlo, Juan Maglio (Pacho) with Carlos Viván, La orquesta Tipica Victor (instrumental), Osvaldo Fresedo con Ernesto Famá, Francisco Lomuto (instrumental) and Juan d’Arienzo (twice) with Carlos Dante both as estribillista and solist.

Later recordings of Discepolo’s first hit include those of Hugo del Carril, Edmundo Rivero, Donato Racciatti with Tania and Ricardo Tanturi with Alberto Castillo.

Discepolo met his wife Tania at the cabaret Follies where she was signing “Esta noche me emborracho”. They were happily married until he died in 1951.

___

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

[2] Peñas, Alberto. Recopilación antológica para una sociologia tanguera. Corregidor: Buenos aires, 1998.

Yira Yira (tango, 1929)

“Yira yira” is a famous 1929 tango by Enrique Santos Discepolo. It is one of the most profoundly cynical tangos ever written and is regarded as a reflection of Argentina’s painful social reality in the 1930’s. It remains a classic to this day and its popularity goes beyond the genre of tango with modern pop and rock interpretations.

Though Discepolo says “Yira yira” was coming to him before 1929 and describes a feeling of hopelessness he experienced in various circumstances in his life, it’s at the beginning of the terrible decada infama of the 1930’s that he found the words to write it down. It’s also during that period that he felt it the most deeply. [2]

“Yira yira” is only a part of a series of related tangos in which Discepolo explores the topic of decadent social values from various points of view. Other socially engaged tangos by Discepolo include ” Que vachaché” (1928), “Que sapa senior?” (1931) and “Cambalache” (1934).

In “Yira yira”, Discepolo offers a rather pessimistic outlook on human nature. He warns us that there is no true love in this world and everything deep down is motivated by selfish interests. You can search and hope all your life but on the day you die, when your last hopes prove to be vain, you will have to admit true compassion is nowhere to be found.

When all the bells you ring die out, and you look in vain for a brother to die in embrace, then you will understand (remember) these words.

…(refrain)

You’ll see that everything is a lie, you’ll see that nothing is love, and to the world nothing matters, it goes round and round.

The word “yira” is a lunfardo expression meaning “goes round”.

“Yira yira” was recorded by Carlos Gardel in 1930. It was also featured in one of his videoclips with a sketch where Discepolo presents the song  to Gardel himself. It was prohibited under the military government in 1943 due to the use of lunfardo and for ideological reasons as well.

Other recordings of “Yira yira” include those of tango, folk and pop artists such as la Orquesta Típica Victor, Ada Falcon, Ignacio Corsini, Edmundo Rivero, Roberto Goyeneche, Hugo del Carril, Francisco Canaro, Javier Calamaro and Julio Iglesias.

___

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

[2] Peñas, Alberto. Recopilación antológica para una sociologia tanguera. Corregidor: Buenos aires, 1998.

Enrique Santos Discepolo

Enrique Santos Discepolo was a poet, playwright, actor, movie director and screenwriter. He is the author of some of the most philosophical and highly praised tango lyrics ever writen, including those of Yira yira“, “Uno” and Cambalache.

Discepolo was born in the neighbourhood of Balvanera in 1901. His father was a musician from Napoli who died when Enrique was only 5-years-old. Having lost his mother by the age of 8, he went to live with his older brother, Armando Discepolo, a successful young playwright who was 14 years older than him. Following the footsteps of his brother, he began acting in 1917 and was a renowned playwright in 1925 with his play “El Organito” premiered at the Teatro Nacional.

Discepolo wrote his first tango in 1926 for a play by José Saldías entitled “La porota”.  This tango entiteled “Bizcochito” is of little interest and remains forgotten to this day. However it was not long before Discepolo found his voice with Que vachacheand “Esta noche me emborracho”.

In 1928 Enrique’s fame as a poet was quickly established as his tangos was interpreted by popular signers Azucena Maizani and Tita Merello. Carlos Gardel recorded many of Discepolo’s first tangos including “Yira Yira(1929), which he also turned into one of the very first video clips in history 1930.

Traveling in Europe in the 1930’s, Discepolo began working as a movie actor, director and screenwriter. He wrote many more tangos including Cambalache (1934), “Desencanto (1937) “Alma de bandoneón (1935), “Uno (1943) “Canción desesperada (1944) and “Cafetín de Buenos Aires” (1948).

Discepolo was among the authors who took action to lift the prohibition of lunfardo under the government of Peron in 1949. Cambalache and “Unowere banned by the military government in 1943.

Discepolo was happily married to Tania, a Spanish signer who used to sign “Esta noche me emborracho” at Les Follies. He died of cancer in 1951 at age 50. On his death bed himself at that time, Homero Manzi wrote “Discepolin” to honour his memory.

”””””

[1] Tango: Cien anos de historia (Vol. III). Buenos Aires: Editorial Perfil, 1992. Print.

[2] Gobello, José. Mujeres y hombres que hicieron el tango. Librerias Libertador, 2002. Print.

[3] Peña, Alberto. Recopilación antologica para una sociología tanguera. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1998.

Sainete (theatre)

The sainete is a type of theatrical piece from 17th century Spain . It became popular in Argentina where it evolved in parallel with tango into the sainte criollo. Later in the 1920’s it played an important role in popularizing tango as a sentimental song in the style of Carlos Gardel.

In 17th century Spain, sainetes were short comedies to be performed during interludes. They usually featured a sentimental affair between two main characters and included musical parts and singing. Their purpose was to create a diversion between acts of a longer play or to be performed at the end of a presentation.

When zarzuelas were divided betewen genero chico and genero grande in the mid 19th century, Spanish saintes became material for the genero chico and disapeared as an independant genre. In Argentina however, it continued to evolve, integrating elements of circus and local culture to form the sainte criollo. 

Unlike the original Spanish version, the sainte criollo is not pure comedy. It features scenes of ordinary life and elements of drama. It evoques, for exemple, life in the conventillos, the shared houses where new immigrants use to live in very close proximity while Buenos Aires was first growing as a city and where the first tangos and saintetes were fomented.

Later in the 1920’s, the sainete criollo played an important part in the renovation of tango and the emergeance of the guardia nueva. It offered a powerful platform for a new style of tango song to be popularized. The first so-called tango canción was “Mi noche triste by Pascual Contursi. It was presented to the public as a part of the sainete “Los dientes del Perro” by  José González Castillo and Alberto Weisbach. The success was huge and opened the way for countless classics to be composed, recorded and immediatly integrated into popular culture.

__________

1 Pellettieri, Osvaldo. Historia del teatro Argentino. La emancipación cultural (1884-1930). Buenos Aires: Galerna, 2002.

2 Pellettieri, Osvaldo. El sainete y el grotesco criollo. Buenos Aires: Editorial Galerna, 2008.

Armenonville

The Armenonville was a remakably luxurious cabaret frequented by the high society of the 1910’s and 1920’s. It was located near the edge of the city of Buenos Aires on Avenida Alvear, now Libertador, at the corner of Tagle.

The building itself was a two story chalet designed to resemble a French hunting pavillon of the same name. It was surrounded by large green spaces and parks with enchanting terraces and rotondas. It was particularly popular during the summer months for the upper classes to escape the city in good style.

The food was of the very best quality at the cabaret Armenonville, just as everything else the cabaret had to offer. Promotional posters announced the finest french cuisine, imported wines, parking for automobiles and carriages, beautiful terraces, gardens and the finest entertainment.

The purpose of a cabaret is to offer dinner and show and so the ground level inside of the Armenonville was organized around a large dance floor and a stage. The room was surrounded not only by tables but also by boxes and balconies like in a theatre.

This most highly fashionable venue was inaugurated by Vicente Greco and his orquesta típica in 1911. Other tango musicians who performed at the Armenonville in the early years include Roberto Firpo, Eduardo Arolas and Augustin Bardi.

The Armenonville also played an important role in advancing the career of Carlos Gardel. In 1913, Gardel was hired to perform at the Armenonville with José Razanno for 70 pesos per night, a sum for which Gardel admitted he would have been grateful to wash the dishes as well. There the duo attracted the attention of Pablo Podestá, a regular who led them to travel to Montevideo where Gardel discovered his first tango, “Mi noche triste”.

When the Armenonville was demolished in 1925, the owners Carlos Bonifacio Lanzavecchia and Manuel Loreiro took their business to a new location. The cabaret Armenonville became Les Ambassadeurs.

There is a 1912 tango by Juan Maglio entitled “Armenonville”.

________

[1] Tango: Cien anos de historia (Vol. II). Buenos Aires: Editorial Perfil, 1992. Print.

[2] “El Armenonville, un cabaret inspirador”. Clarin, october 8, 2012. Online. https://www.clarin.com/ciudades/Armenonville-cabaret-inspirador_0_ryfGMJkhvXl.html

[3] “Carlos Gardel: Debut en Armenonville.” Hagase la musica. Online. http://www.hlmtango.com/notas/carlos-gardel/debut-en-el-armenonville/

[4] Cabaré Armenonville. Arcón de Buenos Aires. Online. http://www.arcondebuenosaires.com.ar/conf_armenonville.htm

Cabaret

The cabaret is a type of night club featuring dinner and show. In Buenos Aires they appeared in the early 1910’s and are closely related to the history of tango. During the 1930’s they evolved into luxurious restaurants with a dance floor surrounded by tables and a bar. This is where the major orchestras of the golden age such as those of Juan d’Arienzo and Anibal Troilo could be found on a regular basis.

The Buenos Aires cabarets were located mostly in the center of the city along avenida Corrientes. Some were frequented only by men and were animated by the mysterious alternadoras, coperas and papirusas, which were all women who were in charge of entertaining men and get them to consume and to come back. Some of these restaurants-dancing also were designed for couples to go out together for a cozy evening.

The cabaret of the golden age was usually associated to a particular tango orchestra which was the main attraction of the house and a measure of their prestige. Juan d’Arienzo was the star at Chanteclerc, Anibal Troilo the soul of Tibidabo and Lucio Demare was at El Casanova.

If tango orchestras were the main attraction at the cabaret of the golden age, they were not the only entertainment. Jazz orchestras and other performers were also featured before and after during the evening. And on Saturdays the típicas were off to perform in popular dance halls across the city.

Some of the legendary cabarets of Buenos Aires are the Armenonville, the Chantecler, the Royal Pigall, the Marabú and Palais de glace. These were the luxurious cabarets mostly located along the Avenida Corrientes. More humble cabarets, also known as los del Bajo, were located near the port and what is now the Centro cultural Kirtchner. The Ocean Dancing, which featured Miguel Caló and Osvaldo Pugliese, was located at Leandro N. Alem 286. Nearby was the Montmartre, el Royal, el Derby and Cielo de California where guests were greeted by a doorman dressed up like a cowboy. [2]

When the popularity of tango and live music declined in the 1950’s and 60’s, most cabarets were already closed. They remain present and alive in the poetry of tango, and their influence is obvious in the organization of traditional milongas.

____

[1] Tango: Cien anos de historia (Vol. II). Buenos Aires: Editorial Perfil, 1992. Print.

[2] Palacio, Jorge. Los cabarets de los anos cuarenta. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/163/Los-cabarets-de-los-anos-cuarenta/

Estribillista

The estribillista is the singer of the orchesta típica of the 1920’s and 1930’s. It’s purpose is to perfom the estribillo (refrain) in such a way that the orchestra and the music remains at the center of attention. It differs from the cantor de orquesta (orchestra singer) of the golden age and solo tango singers.

In the early 1920’s, singing was reserved to soloists such as Carlos Gardel and Ignacio Corsini. These singers used to perform with guitars or small band which would accommodate their voice and were not concerned with delivering a steady beat for dancing. Orquestas típicas were performing instrumental pieces only.

Francisco Canaro was the first director to incorporate a singer to his orchestra. In his memoirs he says he felt something was missing and so he invited Roberto Diaz to perform the estribillo and began experimenting with duos.

The challenges to integrate a singer to an orchestra were many at a time were there were no microphones and amplifiers. The voice of the singer had to be powerful enough to accompany the instruments in noisy public places, cafes and nightclubs. Cone were used sometimes but not an ideal solution estetically. Also it didn’t seem to occurre to anyone to slow down the pace or do major efforts to accomodate the voice of the singer until Anibal Troilo began working with Francisco Fiorentino in 1937.

Besides all of this the contribution of the estribillista to the orchestra was rarely credited. Singers were not regarded as members of the band and their names often did not even appear on recordings.

However the estribillista became popular by the end of the 1920’s and some soloists such as Charlo were associated to an orchestras. Juan Carlos Thorry and Ernesto Famá worked with Osvaldo Fresedo, Félix Gutiérrez with Julio de Caro, Dante with D’arienzo, Teófilo Ibáñez with Roberto Firpo and Santiago Devin with Carlos Di Sarli.

The presence, status and recognition of the estribillistas continued to improve as electric technologies allowed for better performances and in the 1930’s all orchestra were working with singers. Some were associated to a particular orchestra like Roberto Ray to Osvaldo Fresedo and others like Luis Diaz and Francisco Fiorentino worked with many.

It’s not until 1937 that the orchestras finally begin to fully integrate the signer and to adapt the music to showcase the voice and poetry of tango. That all began with Anibal Troilo and the first cantor de orquesta Francisco Fiorentino.

_____

García Blaya, Ricardo. El cantor del Tango: su evoluci’on en el tiempo – El estribillista. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/69/El-Cantor-del-Tango:-Su-evolucion-en-el-tiempo-El-estribillista/

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 and to the music of Juan Carlos Cobián. “Los mareados” became one of Troilo’s greatest hits and the recording they made on June 15, 1942 remains among the greatest classics of the golden age.

One day in 1942 Enrique Cadícamo  was at the cabaret Tibidabo when Anibal Troilo came to him 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 about it and he wanted rearrange and present it to the public as soon as possible. And he wanted Cadícamo to write lyrics for him.

Cadícamo says he hesitated because Cobián was away in Mexico and had not given his consent for the project. However 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”.

The new version was premiered shortly after at the Tibidabo by the orchestra of Anibal Troilo with the voince of Francisco Fiorentino. “Los mareados” became an instant hit and when Juan Carlos Cobián returned to Argentina he could only be pleased to find his music was in vogue. What Troilo and Cadícamo didn’t know however 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 is 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 drunkenness. 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 very popular 1943 tango by Anibal Troilo and Enrique Cadícamo. It is the second of 3 tangos produced by them both, the other two being “Pa’ que bailen los muchachos” (1942) and “Naipe” (1944).

According to a story told by Cadícamo himself, Troilo came up to him with a musical piece one night after his show at the cabaret Tibidabo. Troilo asked Cadícamo if he could create lyrics for hus music and as he walked back home that night there was a very light rain falling over him. This is where Cadícamo conceived the first verses of one of his most famous tangos. [1]

Drizzle!

Sad and lonely along the road,

goes this heart striken with sadness

Like 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 sadness and loneliness. [3]

It wasn’t long after that night under the drizzle that Cadícamo came back to the Tibidabo with “Garua”. A few days later Troilo was rehearsing with Francisco Fiorentino and the song was an instant hit. It was first recorded by Troilo and Fiorentino on August 4, 1943 under the label RCA Victor. Pedro Laurenz recorded his own version two days later with Alberto Podestá under the label Odeon.

“Garua” became a great classic of Troilo’s repertoire and in 1962 he recorded it again with Roberto Goyeneche who also had great success with it and went on recording 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 down to it’s deepest level of existentialism.

(man talking to a bandoneon)

I know.. don’t say it. 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

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

“La ultima curda” was recorded for the first time in 1956 by Anibal Troilo with the voice of Edmundo Rivero. It became a classic of his repertoire and he recorded another version with Goyeneche in 1963, followed by an in instrumental version in 1969. Both Roberto Goyeneche and Edmundo Rivero adopted it as well and continued performing and recording “La ultima curda” 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.