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

tmp_1253-Luis Rubistein.JPG-1348152787

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.

Ojos maulas (Cowardly eyes)

(Fantastic) Photo: Pugliese signing a contract with his band. The singer in the flamboyant white suit is Roberto Chanel, who is featured in this post. The tall fellow in the middle is Alberto Morán.


Tango is often seen as the urban musical culture of Buenos Aires, in contrast with the more folkloric-sounding genres from the countryside, like chamamé, chacarera and zamba. However, there are also many tangos about the pampas and gaucho life. The following lyric is one of the best among them.

Ojos maulas (Cowardly eyes), lyrics by Alfredo Faustino Roldán.

Lloran las guitarras con suaves acordes
arden los fogones con luz de ilusión,
y hay dos ojos maulas que ingrato se esconden,
de un mozo tostado más lindo que el sol.
Él sabe el secreto
que guarda en su pecho
la infiel paisanita
que lo trastornó
y canta empañando de pena sus versos,
los tristes recuerdos de un día de amor.

The guitars are crying with soft chords,
the campfire burns with illusory light,
and two cowardly, ungrateful eyes hide
from a tanned lad, handsome like the sun.*
He knows the secret
she keeps inside her chest,
the cheating peasant girl
who drove him mad,
and he starts singing,
clouding his verses with grief,
the sad memories of a day of love.

“Fue una mañanita te acordás mi china,
cuando la puntita del sol asomó
te encontré solita, allá en las glicinas.
Vos me diste un beso y mil te di yo.
Te acordás mi china que amor nos juramos
y nos abrazamos con honda pasión,
y después que pronto se hicieron cenizas
las dulces caricias de aquella ilusión?”

“One morning, you remember my girl?**
When the sun began to come up,
I found you all alone, in the wisterias.
You gave me a kiss, and I gave you a thousand.
Do you remember that we swore to love each other,
and that we hugged with deep passion?
And then, how soon the sweet caresses of that love turned to ashes?”

(“Escuchá mis quejas y luego decime,
si han habido causas pa’ hacerme traición
y dejar que sufra y así me resigne
maneando los gritos de mi corazón.
Pero que voy a hacerle si se marchitaron
las lindas violetas que un día te di
y al dirse las pobres en mi alma dejaron
un puñao de angustias que gimen así.”)

(“Listen to my grudge and then tell me,
what was your reason to cheat on me,
and make me suffer and give up,
hobbling with the screams of my heart?
But what can I do, now that the beautiful violets I gave you one day have withered and as they died, the poor flowers left inside my soul a handful of sorrows that moan like this.”)

YouTube link (Pugliese-Chanel)

*I have kept this Spanish expression intact. A sun tan seems appropriate for the hard life of a gaucho.
**Mi china, literally: my Chinese/Asian girl. This was a gaucho way of calling a woman. I don’t think it had anything to do with China, but it might have to do with the shape of someone’s eyes. In that sense it’s also an affective nickname in Argentina more generally for someone with slightly East Asian-looking eyes.

Soñé con un amor

Photo: Jorge Omar


Tango music is often melancholic, sad, desperate, full of loneliness, bitter. Even if the music sounds really cheerful, like Donato’s Sinsabor, the words aren’t. There are also other subjects than heartbreak, like life on the Pampas, tough guys in the old neighbourhood, nostalgia for Buenos Aires, crime and the “old country” (the immigrant’s longing) etc. Such lyrics are not always sad, but not especially cheerful either. There is a tiny minority of very positive tangos. I am glad to present you one today.

Soñé con un amor (I dreamt about a love), lyrics by Jesús Fernández Blanco.

En la mañana fragante
cuando la vida se llena de esplendor,
surgió anhelante la flor de mis pasiones
y tejiendo ilusiones, soñé con un amor.

On that fragrant morning
when life was filled with splendour,
the eager flower of my passions
sprang up, and I dreamt about a love,
weaving together my hopes and desire.

Todas las aves canoras
y las estrellas del cielo al asomar,
y las auroras, mis ansias comprendían
y con fe me decían, tus sueños ve a alcanzar.

All the melodious songbirds,
and the shining stars of the sky
and the beautiful daybreak
understood my yearning
and assured me that I would
fullfil my dreams.

Soñé con un amor, en el vergel,
soñe con un amor, eterno y fiel,
y ese sueño amado, que al cielo le pedí
hoy lo veo logrado, y mi vida es feliz.
Soñé con un amor de juventud,
soñé con un amor de plenitud,
con un amor sincero, que nunca morirá
fulgurante lucero que sin fin brillará.

I dreamt about a love, in the orchard,
I dreamt about an eternal, faithful love,
and this beloved dream I asked God for
is now realised, and my life is happy.
I dreamt about a love of youth,
I dreamt about a love of abundance,
about a true love, that will never die,
a shining star that will sparkle forever.

YouTube link (Lomuto-Omar)