I’ve always loved tangos that in one way or another transport me back to the nostalgic streets of Buenos Aires, and they sure do come in various different forms. They are not only literally about old streets and corners of Buenos Aires, but also its different types of inhabitants, typical scenes and traditions, varying from lost lovers, tango dancers, immigrants, street fighters, prostitutes and mothers to street poverty, a room where someone was living in the past, the dancing halls, old cafés and carnival. This nostalgia is almost the trademark of the D’Agostino-Vargas orchestra, but it can be seen in many other orchestras as well, as the whole genre is essentially a mixture of melancholy and nostalgia. There are also a lot of songs without that typical nostalgic vibe, for example the many lost love songs that do not necessarily refer to life in Buenos Aires in one way or another, but this time I’ve chosen a Tanturi-Campos song which more or less does: the narrator regrets having (probably) cheated on a sweetheart long ago (the French name is not a coincidence, these have to do with immigration, foreign allure as well as with prostitution and are everywhere in tango lyrics), and he keeps wandering the streets of the city looking for her, in vain. Together with the dreamy, violin-rich music and the empathetic singing, this in turn makes ME long for the unique nostalgic ambience everything in Buenos Aires irradiates as well as its immortal heritage of tango music.

Lyrics: Horacio Sanguinetti
Composition: Luis Visca

En el silencio tembló tu voz,
tu voz herida diciendo adiós.
Después tus ojos, bajo el negro
sombrerito de castor,
lloraron nuestra separación.
Y es esta pena, mi linda Ivón,
que araña siempre mi corazón.
Mis juveniles primaveras
no podían comprender ni razonar,
mi gran error.

In the silence, your voice trembled,
your anguished voice saying goodbye.
And your eyes,
from under your little black fur hat,
wept over our parting.
And that is the sorrow, my sweet Ivón,
that afflicts my heart to this day.
In my youthful springtime,
I couldn’t even begin to understand
my great mistake.

¡Dónde andarás, Ivón!
De calle en calle mi amor te nombra.
¡Dónde andarás, Ivón!
De barrio en barrio te busco, alondra.
Y me parece que estás huyendo de mi,
sintiendo terror de mi sombra.
¡Y con razón, Ivón!
Y yo sangrando, sin tu perdón.

What has become of you, Ivón?
Street by street, my heart calls your name.
Where are you now, Ivón?
All over the city, I look for you, my skylark.
It’s like you are running from me,
terrified of my shadow.
And with good reason, Ivón,
while I bleed regret,
without your forgiveness.

(Mi pecho, hoy late con emoción,
así latía, tu corazón.
Recuerdo ahora que su ritmo
parecía de reloj…
Aquella noche de nuestro adiós
y aquella noche para los dos
significaba la perdición,
alucinando de inconsciencia
tu presencia la busqué
recién después y tarde fue.)

(Like today my chest beats with emotion,
so your heart used to pound,
and I now remember how its rhythm
seemed like a clock…
That night of our goodbye
was the night that for both of us
led to our undoing,
and with restless desire,
I sought your presence,
but it was all too late.)

Adiós para siempre (Goodbye forever)

I have always considered the D’Agostino-Vargas orchestra (yes, let’s just mention both of them) to have the most “porteño” sound of all the orchestras, “porteño” being the Spanish adjective for Buenos Aires, so in other words, the most Buenos Aires-like or Buenos Aires-representing musical style of them all. Their discography contains not only, as far as I can tell, the most songs that refer to certain streets, corners and places of Buenos Aires, but it’s actually the orchestra sound which, in my opinion, is almost signature for evoking a yearning for the city in older times. Nostalgia is the key word here: whenever I hear this powerful combination of orchestra and singing, I always get in this dreamy, nostalgic Buenos Aires mood, and there are a few songs which I consider the absolute best in that regard. I’ve always loved “Adiós para siempre”, and I’m delighted to present this song to you today in the form of a translation video. I hope you will be able recognize the sentiment I’ve described above, along with perhaps a bit of the passionate melancholy of a lost love, which actually goes well with nostalgia, since tango music is often a combination of melancholy and nostalgia anyway.

Adiós para siempre (Goodbye forever)
Lyrics: Nolo López
Composition: José María Rizutti

“Adiós para siempre”, decía su carta,
“yo sé que sos hombre y sabrás comprender.
Te pido que nunca maldigas mi nombre,
pensá que tu madre también es mujer.”
-¡No sé por qué causa se fue de mi lado!,
¡no sé, si es un sueño, o si es realidad!
Parece mentira que a veces la vida
se ensañe con uno con tanta crueldad.

“Goodbye forever”, her letter said,
“I know you are a real man, you’ll understand…
all I ask of you is to never curse my name,
because remember, your mother is a woman too…”
I don’t know why she left me…,
is it a dream… or is it real?
I can’t believe how sometimes,
life can be so awfully cruel…

¡Hoy solo!…
lloro en silencio por ella.
A cuestas
llevando voy mi dolor
y el recuerdo del pasado
se ha metido despiadado
muy adentro del corazón.
encontrarla en mi camino.
pedirle una explicación.
Pero temo, que me niegue
y me diga, es mentira
nada hubo entre los dos.

Now, all alone,
I cry for her silently.
I carry this lonely pain,
and memories of the past
rage mercilessly,
deep inside my heart.
I wish I could…
find her on my path,
and then…
ask her…. “but why?”
however, I fear that she’ll scorn me
and say instead, “it’s all lies…”
“there was nothing between us.”

(Por eso que a veces no quiero acordarme,
y busco olvidarla, ahogando el dolor.
Parece mentira, qué flojos que somos,
las cosas, hermano, que tiene el amor.
Malhaya con ella, qué Dios me perdone,
lo digo con rabia porque ella se fue.
Quisiera gritarle, maldita mil veces,
me acuerdo y no puedo, mi madre es mujer.)

(Sometimes, I just don’t want to remember,
and I try to forget her, drowning my sorrow.
It seems incredible how weak we are,
brother… the things that love does to us…
Curse that woman! Forgive me, Lord,
I say that in anger, because she left me.
I would like to scream at her,
“damn you, woman!”, a thousand times…
but I can’t, because I remember..
my mother is a woman too…)

Alternative verses in red:

First part, first half:

“Adiós para siempre”, decía su carta
“tal vez, algún día, sabrás comprender.
Quizá te atormenten mis cuatro palabras
escritas con llanto, en este papel.”

“Goodbye forever”, her letter said,
“perhaps, one day, you’ll understand.
I hope these four words of mine,
written in this note, in tears,
will not torment you.”

Third part:

(Por eso que a veces, no quiero acordarme
y busco olvidarla, ahogando el dolor.
¡Parece mentira, lo flojo que somos!,
¡las cosas, hermano, que tiene el amor!
Qué triste sin ella, se hace la vida,
¡adiós esperanza, adiós ilusión!
El alma envejece, se siente vencida
y sólo esperamos, el fallo de Dios.)

(Sometimes, I just don’t want to remember,
and I try to forget her, drowning my sorrow.
It seems incredible how weak we are,
brother… the things that love does to us…
Life is so sad without her…
goodbye dreams, goodbye hope!
The soul grows old, we feel defeated
and we can only wait to be judged by God.)

Amando en silencio (Loving in silence)

Even in the heart of the Golden Age, in this case in 1941, we can still find examples of songs that only have refrain singing instead of the more “full” singing that had become the standard in tango orchestras. Likewise, for the Donato orchestra of those years, the limited presence of the singers in today’s song, “Amando en silencio”, is quite odd, but at the same time it also proves that you can also have fantastic music because of that limited role. Simply try to listen to how the singing is integrated in the rest of the orchestra as some kind of additional instrument, with the singing being a kind of solo that does not distract from the harmony of the rest of the music. If you want to learn more about this, be sure to follow my new video series ”Tango Music Analysis” in which today’s song will also appear.

I have translated the rest of the lyrics as well, so don’t miss out on the full poetry of this romantic and sensitive tango. The unsung parts are shown in brackets.

Amando en silencio (Loving in silence)
Lyrics: Francisco García Jiménez
Music: José Pécora

(Todo mi amor
está en secretos pensamientos,
en escondidos sentimientos,
nostálgico y soñador…)

(All my love
is in secret thoughts,
in hidden feelings,
wistful and dreamy…)

(Novia ideal,
hay un dolor
que me encadena,
Y frente a tu pudor,
mi fiebre pasional
no es más
que una/muda adoración.)

(My perfect love,
there’s a sorrow
that chains me,
and before your virtue,
my impassioned fever
is nothing more than
silent adoration.)

Amando en silencio…
callando mi ruego,
ahogando este fuego
cobarde, quizás.
Conservo el encanto
de un sueño hechicero,
por eso no quiero
saber la verdad.

Loving in silence…
stilling my desire,
smothering this fire
cowardly, perhaps.
Maybe I’ll keep the spell
of this bewitching dream
as I do not want
to know the truth.

(Amando en silencio…
pagando mi error,
sintiendo el horror
de quebrar este sueño,
ya es vano el empeño
de ocultar esta mentira.)

(Loving in silence,
paying for my mistake,
feeling the horror
of shattering this dream,
as it is hopeless to try
to conceal this lie.)

Mas allá (Beyond)


Even though I consider Osvaldo Fresedo’s music with Roberto Ray the absolute best period of his career, there are also some really nice, upbeat tracks with Ray’s immediate successor, Ricardo Ruiz. Likewise, as a DJ, the music with Ray is part of my staple, but I also enjoy throwing some Ruiz tracks at people, because even though it’s not really the best-known music, it’s a style right from the heart of the Golden Age, and what few people know is that several of these tracks have excellent, dreamy poetry. One of the best examples is Más allá, a usual tale of the sorrows of love, but with a beautiful metaphor of the afterlife and eternity. This lyric is one of the many gems written by José María Contursi, a somewhat tragic man who dedicated pretty much all of his poetry to, yes, Gricel, his unattainable lover. I will soon dedicate a post to both of them over at Tango Archive. In the meantime, enjoy this translation!

Más allá (Beyond)
Lyrics: José María Contursi
Composition: Joaquín Mauricio Mora

Han pasado tres años ya
y no sé qué será de ti.
Me parece escuchar, tan cerca de mí
tu voz bañada en llanto.
Es horrible vivir así
sepultado en la oscuridad,
de mis ojos sin luz
que no te han de ver jamás.

Three years have already gone by
and I wonder what has become of you.
I seem to hear, so close to me,
your sorrow-soaked voice.
It’s awful to live like this,
buried in the darkness
of my lightless eyes,
which shall never see you again.

Más allá donde el viento
tal vez, un amor escondió,
ha podido sus penas contar
mi corazón.
Más allá de la muerte y de Dios,
óyeme, más allá…
puede ser que me aleje de ti
la eternidad.

Beyond, where the wind
perhaps hid a love,
my heart could
pour out its sorrows.
Beyond death and God,
listen to me, in the beyond,
I hope eternity may
finally distance you from me.

Unsung part:

(Cuántas veces la soledad
mis tristezas acarició,
y queriendo olvidar
busqué en el alcohol
calmar mis inquietudes.
Pero el alma se doblegó
recordándote más y más,
y hoy me mata saber
que no te veré jamás.)

(How many times has
loneliness caressed my suffering,
and hoping to forget,
I tried drowning my
despair in alcohol.
But my soul surrendered,
yearning for you even more,
and now what torments me,
is that I will never see you again.)

Sólo compasión (Nothing but pity)

angel d'agos

I’ve always personally always seen Solo compasión, a very popular track by the Two Angels duo, as the most “exciting” song of the entire orchestra, with a lot of great rhythmical elements going on for an intense dancing experience, but at the same time also with a melodic warmth a lot of the more rhythmical tangos out there tend to lack. I have some stellar memories of dancing to this classic piece with one of my favorite tangueras, and I really felt its lyrics deserved to be more accessible to non-Spanish speakers. Unfortunately it took me over one year and a half to finally break through a kind of mental blockade that kept me from finishing this project. I hope you can appreciate the amount of work I put in these projects and mentally support me to keep making them in the future.

Short disclaimer: There’s also a common version of this tango by José García, but for my videos I usually only tend to stick to the ”best” version of a song, unless other versions are really noteworthy in one way or another.

Sólo compasión (Nothing but pity)
Lyrics: Luis Castiñeira
Composition: Benjamín Holgado Barrio

Yo sé que vivo arrinconado
vencido, triste y cambiado…
pero la culpa no es tuya,
no temas ni me huyas,
que todo lo he olvivado…
Ya ves, te miro sin encono
y ahogando un llanto… perdono.
No sé qué siento por vos,
¿será ternura or amor
o sólo compasión?

I know I am now a lonely man,
defeated, miserable and changed,
but it’s not your fault…
don’t be afraid, don’t stay away,
because… I’m over it now.
Look… I’m not bitter….
and stifling my tears… I forgive you.
I’m not sure what I feel for you,
is it tenderness or love
or nothing but pity…?

por la que nunca comprendió mi amor.
por la que busca mi perdón.
Yo que también alzo mi cruz
perdono cual Jesús, a Magdalena…
por la que nunca comprendió mi amor.
por la que un día se extravió.
Ya te dirá mi corazón
si es esto compasión
o restos de un amor.

Pity, for the woman,
who never understood my love.
Pity, for the woman,
who seeks my forgiveness.
I who also carry my own cross
forgive you, like Jesus forgave Magdalena…
Pity, for the woman,
who never understood my love.
Pity, for the woman,
who one day went astray.
But my heart will tell you…
whether this is nothing but pity
or what’s left of my love!

Unsung part:

(Yo sé muy bien por qué has venido
cruzando sombras de olvido.
Te fue golpeando la vida
y has vuelto arrepentida,
buscando lo perdido.
Para tus penas y fracasos
abierto tengo mis brazos.
¡Cómo los voy a negar!
Si no te pude olvidar
en horas de pesar.)

(I know all too well why you have come,
through the shadows of forgetfulness.
It was life that wore you down,
and you have returned repenting,
seeking what you lost.
To soothe your hurt and pain,
I open my arms.
How can I reject you…
if I couldn’t forget you
in my darkest hours.)

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  • José María Contursi and his Gricel

    My favourite poet, who dedicated his dramatic, desperate work to a real woman, Gricel...

  • The lyrics come alive

    Troilo (right), rehearsing a song with Fiorentino and the crazy pianist Goñi.

  • The Holy Altar To D’Agostino-Vargas

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