Skip to main content

Adiós Buenos Aires

This tango has a carefree stride, bittersweet but not regretful, glad for the memories as the traveler-narrator sets forth. On the night of René and John's recitation, the Pablo Cafici-Rodolfo Zanetti Duo was joined for an impromptu six-handed encore by Pablo Estigarribia.

Adiós Buenos Aires (1938)
Letras de Leopoldo Torre Rios
Musica de Rodolfo Sciammarella

Goodbye, Buenos Aires (1938)
Lyrics by Leopoldo Torre Rios, trans. J. Osburn
Music by Rodolfo Sciammarella

Debo alejarme de mi tierra tan querida,
debo alejarme, sangrando el corazón,

como el poeta he de decir en mi partida
adiós Buenos Aires, amigos adiós.

From this much belovéd land I must make my way
I must take my leave, although my heart is bleeding.
Before I go, as a poet might, I would have to say:
adiós Buenos Aires, all my dear friends, goodbye.

Noches porteñas que supieron de mi dicha,
mudos testigos hoy de mi dolor,
cada rincón me trae algún recuerdo

todo, todo me habla de su amor.

City nights that understood the joy I took in life
stand today in mute witness to my pain,
the corner of every street brings me a memory:
all of it, all, to me speaks of her love again.

No sé que rumbos tomarán mis pasos,
lejos de esta tierra me lleva el destino,
yo tengo en el alma penas y fracasos
que olvidar quisiera por algún camino.

I do not know of what paths my feet will take
as fate carries me far from this land with so heavy a load,
in my soul I carry pain and loss and heartache
that I so long to forget down one or another road.

Y si entre las brumas espesas de Londres
o en la algarabía infernal de New York,

arranque esa pena que siempre se esconde
adiós Buenos Aires, amigos adiós.

And then if amidst the soupy mists of London
or in the infernal din and commotion of New York
this sorrow that lays constantly hidden bursts forth again:
adiós Buenos Aires, all my dear friends, goodbye.

Listen to the classic Orquesta Típica Victor-Ángel Vargas recording here:

Notes
The key to this lyric is that in leaving Buenos Aires the traveler will speak “like a poet.” Attention is called to a rhyme scheme of great clarity and simplicity: this is an affectingly unpretentious tango. That said, its meaning is artfully ambiguous. Is about the love of a city or a lover? Is the speaker leaving to escape heartache, or does it arise as a result of the leave-taking? Either way, the bittersweetness of travel, relocation, and “moving on” are evoked. Songs like Ian Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds” or Tolkien’s “The Road Goes Ever On” come to mind. “Goodbye” is a universal theme, so that a word for it in one language is likely to be known in others. Adiós is one of those, like ciao or au revoir or aloha, that doesn't need translating, so keeping it alludes to the original and is thematically enriching. The phrase "all my dear friends, goodbye" is owed to Derrick del Pilar's translation at Poesía de gotán.
—John Osburn













Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Se dice de mí

Although written for the Uruguayan singer Carlos Roldán in 1943, Tita Merello made Se dice de mí  her own in 1954, and it has been sung by women ever since. At Milonga Falucho at Café Argentino in Brooklyn, Renée mimed the lyrics as John recited his English translation of the version made famous by Merello. It was the first milonga in this series. Live music for the evening was provided by Emiliano Messiez (piano) and Adolfo Trepiana (bandoneón).

Se dice de mí (1943) Milona
Letra de Ivo Pelay Música de Francisco Canaro

They Say This of Me (1943) Milonga
Lyrics by Ivo Pelay, trans. J. Osburn Music by Francisco Canaro
Se dice de mí... se dice de mí... se dice de mí... Se dice que soy fiera, que camino a lo malevo, que soy chueca y que me muevo con un aire compadrón, que parezco Leguisamo, mi nariz es puntiaguda, la figura no me ayuda y mi boca es un buzón.
They say this of me… They say this of me… They say this of me… They say that I’m a beast, that I swagger like a tough, that I strut like I’m hot stuff wit…

Amarras

This is a familiar tango, often played in D'Arienzo tandas at milongas. The music is spry at times and even cheerful, with flashes of darkness, yet the lyrics are entirely on the dark side. To explore this paradox, John and Renée recited the lyrics at Milonga Falucho/Chelsea as DJ Carlos Quiroga played a well-known version in the background. There was no live music for the night, instead a dance performance by Alejandra Hobert and Adrian Veredice.

Amarras 1944 Letra de Carmelo Santiango Música de Carlos Marchisio
Moorings 1944 Lyrics by Carmelo Santiango, trans. J. Osburn Music by Carlos Marchisio
Vago como sombra atormentada bajo el gris de la recova, me contemplo y no soy nada... Soy como mi lancha carbonera que ha quedado recalada, bien atada a la ribera. Yo también atado a mi pasado soy un barco que está anclado y siento en mi carne sus amarras como garfios, como garras. Lloro aquellos días que jamás han de volver; sueño aquellos besos que ya nunca he de tener, soy como mi lancha carbonera que ha…

Gitana rusa

This is a different sort of tango. Although the themes of love and loss are familiar, the Slavic style and setting are unusual and the narrator's relationship to the woman he addresses is enigmatic. The music and the lyric have a murky provenance; it may originally have been composed under the title "Tus ojos" ("Your Eyes") by Severio Sadán in the Ukraine in honor of his unseen daughter-in-law in Buenos Aires, then modified by orchestra leader Juan Sánchez Gorio, who registered it in his name and asked Horacio Sanguimetti to write the words with which we are familiar. More of this tenuous history may be read here. In the event, Renée and José Luis Lavayen taught the pre-milonga class, and live music was enjoyed from Maricio Najt (piano) and Javier Sánchez (bandoneón).

Gitana rusa (1942) Letra de Horacio Sanguimetti Música de Juan Sánchez Gorio
Russian Gypsy (1942) Lyrics by Horacio Sanguimetti, trans. J. Osburn Music by Juan Sánchez Gorio
Pintó tus ojos
el azabach…