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.)

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)

tmp_1253-Luis Rubistein.JPG-1348152787

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.)