Isla de Capri (version by Alberto Gómez)

“Alberto Gómez? Who….??”
Many tango dancers are not necessarily familiar with some of the most important singers in tango history. Whether it’s Charlo, Ignacio Corsini, Ada Falcón or even pretty much the first ever tango singer, Carlos Gardel, these are all names that escape most people’s attention nowadays. However, that’s not strange considering how little they are connected to the actual music we dance to – maybe apart from some older orchestra tunes that are cherished particularly by certain DJs, collectors and crowds of dancers. In these older tunes, we can hear some of these famous singers, like Charlo and Alberto Gómez, sing a refrain within a song meant for dancing, yes, just a refrain and nothing else. However, many others who sang these refrains for the orchestras never reached the same level of status. And we also have to realize that in most of the more sophisticated music of the Golden Age, even those famous names are all absent, and their ‘place’ is taken by mostly a new generation instead.

“But Lucas! How did they become famous, then?”
That’s a good question. The key here is that tango singing and dance music always had a problematic relationship, because the ambitions of orchestras and singers often collided. From its inception until its decline, the tango genre attracted many people who wanted to shine as a soloist, following the original example of Gardel, and many became popular with their listeners this way. We have many recordings of singers who are simply accompanied by guitars or an entire orchestra for their voices to shine, and this subgenre is usually referred to as ‘tango canción’ (‘tango song’). Even in the middle of the Golden Age, singers routinely abandoned the best orchestras we know because they wanted to go solo and be in complete control of the music they created. For dancers nowadays, singing with Di Sarli or Troilo may seem like an immense honor, and to a large extent it was, but there was certainly more to be attained for a popular performer. Or at least it seemed, because while some of these men who became soloists did reach the prime of their career alone, others saw their career decline, and in some cases it’s not easy for us to determine what truly happened, because of a lack of recordings or historical sources.

(British accent) “But Lucas, you must be mad! Why on earth would you create an entire video just for a song not a single dancer ever cares about?”
Well, Alberto Gómez is one of the great, prolific solo singers, and I think it’s really nice sometimes to listen to dance classics from another angle and with voices that were popular and influential back in the day. These singers followed trends among the orchestras, but also the other way around, which means there are dance classics that were inspired by people outside of the orchestras. And in any case: because I understand Spanish, I can always listen to whatever renditions I want, but many of the visitors of my website have to rely on translations. While I generally think it’s more ‘useful’ to present translations of popular tracks, I also think it’s good to stimulate people to understand tango history a bit better and also get to explore the less obvious repertoire out there. Lastly, tango lyrics often have ‘unsung’ parts that are worth the attention but are easily overlooked, and the tango soloists tend to sing the entire lyric or at least a big part of it. All of these reasons are why I choose to present to you, in this case, a nice tango canción that may help you to appreciate the more famous Fresedo version in a different light.

Isla de Capri (Isle of Capri)sung by Alberto Gómez
Composition: Will Grosz
Lyrics: Miguel Ángel del Valle

Yo tuve un amor,
sueño embriagador,
en una isla de Capri.
Paisaje azul
rebosante de luz.
Mi canción de amor
dulce desgrané
en el perfume de Capri
y mi querer
en sus ojos canté.

I once had a love,
an intoxicating dream,
on the Isle of Capri.
A blue landscape,
of dazzling light.
I sweetly declared
my song of love
in fragrant Capri,
as I sang my adoration
to her eyes.

Labios de miel que besaron mis labios,
ojos de sol que me hicieron soñar
y en la emoción de sus besos tan sabios
desglosaba mi alma un cantar.
Y así, los dos por senderos de dicha,
bajo ese cielo radiante de amor
vivimos juntos un suave romance
que duró lo que dura una flor…
¿Y dónde estarás ahora
acordándote de mí?
Mientras mi querer te llora
vuela mi ilusión hacia ti.

Honey lips that kissed my lips,
sun bright eyes, making me dream…
and in the ardour of her knowing kisses
my soul broke into a song.
And so, together on pathways of bliss,
under a radiant sky of love,
we enjoyed a sweet romance
that only lasted as long as a flower.
And… where are you now,
thinking of me?
While my love cries for you,
my hope flies to your side.
my emotions fly to your side.

(Labios de miel que besaron mis labios,
ojos de sol que me hicieron soñar
y en la emoción de sus besos tan sabios
desglosaba mi alma un cantar.
No puedo olvidar
horas que viví
en una isla de Capri…
Cuánta emoción
desbordó mi canción,
ansias de vivir
dulce recordar
de gratas horas pasadas
y revivir
en un beso un cantar.)

(Honey lips that kissed my lips,
sun bright eyes, making me dream…
and in the ardour of her knowing kisses
my soul broke into a song.
I shall never forget
those days I spent
on the Isle of Capri.
My singing overflowed
with such strong emotion,
a yearning to live.
It’s sweet to remember
those pleasant times
and to relive
a song in a kiss.)