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Todo es amor

This is an uncharacteristically happy tango, a love song that veers between sublime expression and delirious sweetness. It was a bittersweet choice for the double occasion of John's birthday and Milonga Falucho's last call in Brooklyn before moving to Manhattan. Music for the celebration was by Sofía Tosello (voice), Marizio Najt (piano) and Javier Sánchez (bandoneón). 

Todo es amor (1957)
Letras de Alejandro Roman
Música de Leo Lipesker

It's All Love (1957)
Lyrics by Alejandro Roman, trans. J. Osburn
Music by Leo Lipesker

¿Dónde está el por qué de mis ansias y mi fe?
¿Dónde la razón de mi intensa desazón?
Dónde, sino en tus sueños que me alientan tanto,
sino en tus labios que al brindar su encanto
me dan las fuerzas de luchar por ti.

Where is the source and wellspring of my yearning and my faith?
Where is the sense and reason of my ceaseless dis-ease?
Where, if not there in your dreams that embolden and reassure,
if not upon your lips or in the enchantments they conjure
that give to me the power to fight for you?

¿Quién le dio a mi voz el acento de tu voz?
¿Quién llenó de luz largas horas de ansiedad?
Alguien que desde el cielo señaló el camino
para poder unir nuestros destinos
y así lograr nuestra felicidad.

Who regaled my voice with the tenor and accent of yours?
Who was it gave light to my long dark hours of distress?
From heaven above us there’s one has pointed us the way    
to unite each as one our own destinies
and so in that way bring about our happiness.

Todo es amor,
la brisa y tú
jugando en el rumor,
y el ruiseñor
cantando en una flor
buscando amor, amor…

Everything is love:
the breezes and you
happy in the murmur of
and the mourning dove
cooing on the branch above
clamouring for love, for love…

Todo es amor,
la rosa y yo
trepando en tu balcón,
después los dos
temblando de emoción
buscando amor, amor…
Everything is love:
the red rose and I,
clambering to your window,
then you and I
atremble with an amorous glow   
clamouring for love, for love…

Listen to the classic version of Todo es amor here:

These are intriguing lyrics in how they shift between love as a cosmic mystery and a personal, if not treacly, expression of it. A Shakespearean grandeur (resembling the Sonnets) gives way to a pop song or Valentine’s card sentimentality. In the balcony and rose imagery, Shakespeare comes to mind again: this could be Romeo, climbing to Juliet’s bedroom. To express the grandeur, it was necessary to keep to the line length; time is needed to fill the space, not just to cross it. The rhyming is part of the sentimentality and had to be preserved. So “nightingale” became “mourning dove,” the “balcony” the “window” behind it, “searching” a “clamour,” and so on. In this joyous tango, love is a world of possibility rather than a graveyard of loss.
John Osburn


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