Cuando el corazón (When your heart…)

canaro y maida portraits.png

Update: Live version of the song (with subtitles) added below.

Who says tango always has to be sad? Sure, it is melancholic music in general, but its lyricists covered a variety of topics and some orchestras, like Canaro’s, included more ‘cheerful’ songs than others. Like I wrote last time: there’s more to tango than broken hearts and autumn rain, and this time we will look at a more ‘uplifting’ aspect of love… something I won’t spoil for you now, better just find out for yourself below. However, tango wouldn’t be tango without a slight hidden edge of melancholy, but again, I prefer you find out in this lyric yourself, or maybe disagree… comments are welcome.

Cuando el corazón (When your heart…)
Lyrics: Carmelo Santiago
Composition: Francisco Canaro

Una estrella que cayó del firmamento,
hecha carne por milagro de la vida.
¡En momentos en que mi alma estaba herida!
con sus luces mi destino iluminó.
Hoy no siento ya el dolor de mis heridas,
todo es alegría, un canto al amor.

A star fell from heaven
and miraculously became a woman.
Just when my soul was in torment,
her shining light lit my path.
Now, I no longer feel the hurt of my wounds,
everything is joy, an ode to love.

Cuando el corazón…
cuando el corazón nos habla de un amor,
revive la fe, florece la ilusión.
Cuando el corazón recuerda a una mujer
la vida es gozar y el vivir querer.
Cuando el corazón palpita con ardor,
todo es vida y luz, en todo hay emoción;
canto a la esperanza, fe en el porvenir;
amar a una mujer eso es vivir.

When your heart…
when your heart speaks of love,
your faith is restored, your hope revived.
When your heart remembers a woman,
life is a delight and to live is to love.
When your heart beats with fervour,
life is full of light, everything evokes emotion,
a song of hope, faith in the future,
loving a woman, now that’s real living!

Unsung part:
(Cascabeles de cristal hay en tu risa

y caricia en el calor de tu mirada,
en tu boca de coral está engarzada
de un beso de ternura angelical.
Una estrella que cayó del firmamento,
inspiró mi verso, con su titilar.)

(Your laugh rings out like crystal bells,
and the warmth of your look caresses me,
your mouth of coral is embellished
by a kiss of angelic tenderness.
A star fell from heaven
and inspired my poem with its twinkling.)

Dos ojos tristes (Two sad eyes)

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For this new and upcoming series of translations with subtitled videos, I am honoured to be assisted in my translation and editing work by a team of friends from the UK and Argentina. My special thanks goes to Terry Meinrath, the best ”literary” editor I could possibly wish for.

I love this song because it really immerses you into its story, by combining the sadness and nostalgic melancholy of long-lost love with a somewhat lighter, sweet nostalgia that is so typical of Buenos Aires’ magical streets and corners, and of some other tango songs as well. It’s an excellent recording by Pugliese who put this lighter, somehow uplifting tone in some of his earlier songs. The music, together with the evocative lyrics, truly transport me to a silent alley in a rainy, cold winter afternoon in Buenos Aires, to one of its old, former glory-ridden corners with many similar histories of intense love and sad farewells. Sound a little gloomy, right? Don’t worry: our next song will be a bit more cheerful. There is more to life than broken hearts and autumn rain.

Dos ojos tristes (Two sad eyes)
Lyrics: Luis Rubistein
Composition: Oscar de la Fuente

Te vi en la vieja esquina, junto al buzón
como dejando una queja,
y tras la lluvia fina, corazón
llorar tu pena vieja.

You were standing on the old corner, next to the postbox,
as if you were trying to leave a lament in there,
and in the drizzle, my heart,
you cried over your old sorrow.

Hay una angustia
y un recuerdo de tiempo atrás,
dos trenzas negras
y unos ojos que no están más.
Dos ojos que eran tristes
como un adiós,
y que no vuelven jamás.

There is enduring regret
and a memory from a distant past,
two black braids
and two eyes, no longer there,
two eyes that were sad,
sad as in a farewell
and that would never return.

Nunca pensó que tras de sus besos
llegara el olvido y matara su embeleso.
Llegó el otoño con su carga de hastío
y el desamor llenó mi alma de frío,
frío sin fin de mi dolor…
Penas, de haber dejado en un beso
su inútil regreso… y el otoño la llevó.

Who would have thought that after her sweet kisses
callousness could come and sour her affection…
Autumn arrived with its burden of weariness
and her indifference filled my soul with cold,
the endless cold of my suffering…
Sorrow, of having left in a kiss the vain hope of
of her return… but autumn took her away.

Si yo te contara (If I were to tell you)

Photo: Jorge Omar


Lomuto sounds relatively cheerful for a tango orchestra, especially with the distinctly optimistic voice of Jorge Omar. There is also a slightly more melancholic, yet energetic Canaro version of this song, which includes the first part between the brackets below. Both versions are interesting. The text itself is not cheerful at all.

Si yo te contara

(Vos decís, que yo siempre ando amargao,
que no sé ya sonreír,
que ya nada me divierte,
que tengo una preocupación
amarga, tonta y sin razón.
Y decís, que te apena verme así
porque siempre me reí
de las cosas de la vida.
Hermano de mis noches de bohemia
yo te quiero confesar mi gran verdad.)

(You tell me that I am always so bitter,
that I never smile anymore,
that I am unable to have fun,
that I am always so worried,
with such bitter, stupid and pointless worry.
And, you say that it saddens you to see me like this,
because I was always laughing away life’s problems.
Brother of my bohemian nights,
I want to confess my great secret. (literally: truth))

Si yo te contara
todo el daño que me han hecho,
si vos supieras
toda, toda la verdad…
Esta verdad que me hace mal,
esta verdad que es mi dolor.
Si yo te contara
sufrirías como yo.

If I were to tell you
how much they hurt me,
if you only knew
the whole truth…
This truth that harms me,
this truth, my sorrow.
If I were to tell you,
you would suffer like me.

YouTube link (Lomuto-Omar)

Youtube link (Canaro-Maida)


Roberto Chanel (white suit), with Pugliese (below, glasses) signing a contract.


Amiga (Female friend) – YouTube Link (Pugliese-Chanel)
Lyrics: Horacio Sanguinetti

Hoy que estoy solo y enfermo
me regalas tu bondad
y te acercas a mi lado
para consolar mi mal.
Qué alegría me da verte,
que placer oír tu voz;
al mirarte los recuerdos
me hablan de tu gran amor.

Fuiste amiga en horas buenas
y en las malas mucho más.

Now that I am ill and lonely,
you come to give me
your love and gentleness
and you approach me here
to alleviate my suffering.
What a joy it is to see you,
how pleasant to hear your voice,
and now that I look at you
my memories tell me of your great love.

You were my friend in good times
and in the bad, much more still.

ya se jugó el último dado de mi suerte…
cómo envenena esta pena de perderte.
Este verso
es mi lágrima sincera
para ti la verdadera
compañera del dolor.
ya se jugó el último dado de mi suerte…
Qué me importa de la muerte
si te llevo en el adiós.

Fuiste amiga en horas buenas
y en las malas mucho más.

(Female) friend,
the last dice of my destiny has been thrown.
how poisoning is this agony of losing you!
This verse
is my sincere tear,
for you the true companion
of this grief.
the last dice of my destiny has been played,
but what does death matter to me
as I carry you within my farewell?

You were my friend in good times
and in the bad, much more still.

(En mi vida de bohemio
fuiste siempre una canción
y hoy que ya todo es invierno
tu presencia es como un sol.
Tu palabra, tu ternura
es lo mismo que una flor,
una flor en mi amargura
perfumando mi dolor.)

(In my bohemian life
you were always like a song
and now that winter submerges me
your presence is like the sun.
Your words, your tenderness,
are like a flower to me,
a flower in my bitterness
that gives off a scent to my suffering.)

Nada más

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Nada más: one of the most passionate and desperate tango lyrics ever. We have the luxury of several interesting recordings, especially the immortal dance version (with limited singing, the second part) recorded by Juan D’Arienzo in 1938. This poem is so powerful that I wanted to translate the full text, as sung by the incredibly emphatic Ada Falcón, who was abandoned herself by Francisco Canaro. The first line of the second part is the best phrase I have ever heard in tango. Pure class!

Nada más (Nothing more), lyrics by Luis Rubistein

No quiero nada, nada más
que no me dejes
frente a frente con la vida.
Me moriré si me dejás
porque sin vos no he de saber vivir.
Y no te pido más que eso
que no me dejes sucumbir…
te lo suplico por Dios
no me quités el calor
de tu cariño y tus besos,
por si me falta la luz
de tu mirar que es mi sol
será mi vida una cruz.

All I ask you
is to not abandon me like this,
face to face with life.
I will die if you leave me,
because without you, I cannot live.
Please, that’s all I ask you,
don’t let me wither…
I beg you, for God’s sake,
don’t rob me of the warmth
of your affection, of your kisses,
because if I lack the light
of your look, which is my sun,
my life will be a suffering.*

¡Cuánta nieve habrá en mi vida!
sin el fuego de tus ojos
y mi alma ya perdida
sangrando por la herida
se dejará morir…
y en la cruz de mis anhelos
llenaré de brumas mi alma.
Nublará/morirá el azul del cielo
sobre mi desvelo
viéndote partir…

How much snow will there be in my life…
without the fire of your eyes!
And my soul, yet lost,
bleeding through this wound,
will lay down and die.
And on the cross of my yearning
I shall fill my soul with darkness.
The blue of the sky will cloud/die**
above my distress
of watching you depart.

No quiero nada, nada más
que la mentira de tu amor como limosna.
¿Qué voy a hacer si vos te vas
con el vacío de mi decepción?
No, no te vayas… te lo ruego…
no destrocés mi corazón…
si no lo hacés por amor,
hacélo por compasión,
pero, por Dios, no me dejes.
Jamás te molestaré
seré una sombra a tus pies
tirada en algún rincón…

I want nothing, nothing more
than the deceit of your love
out of pity***.
If you leave me, what am I going do
with the void of my disillusion?
No, don’t go… I beg you…
don’t ruin my heart…
If you won’t do it out of love,
do it out of compassion,
but, for God’s sake, don’t abandon me.
I won’t trouble you,
I will be a shadow at your feet,
thrown away into some corner.

YouTube link (Ada Falcón with Canaro)

YouTube link (D’Arienzo-Echagüe)

YouTube link (Canaro-Maida)

*Literally: ”my life will be a cross”, referring to Jesus’ suffering, a metaphor repeated in the second part.
**In the original poem, the intended word seems to have been ”cloud”, but Alberto Echagüe sings ”die” instead.
***More literally, ”your love as an alm”, a beggar’s alm.

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