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Only in tango could a lyric so mordant and haranging mark an occasion so festive, both the 3rd Anniversary of Milonga Falucho and the inauguration of its new home at Scopa on Seventh. Milonguero master Juan Carlos Stasi, who runs the milonga Porteño y Bailarín in Buenos Aires, was the special guest reciter with John. On the bandstand were Pablo Estigarribia (piano) and Javier Sánchez (bandoneón).

Desencuentro (1962)
Letra de Catulo Castillo
Musica de Anibal Troilo

Mismatch (1962)
Lyrics by Catulo Castillo, trans. J. Osburn
Music by Anibal Troilo

Estas desorientado y no sabes
Que trole hay que tomar para seguir.
Y en ese desencuentro con la fe
Queres cruzar el mar y no podes.

Y’re confused ’n’ all mixed-up and ya still dunno
What trolley you oughta take to keep goin’.
And in that lousy mismatch ya had with faith
What ya wan' is to cross the sea, but now ya can’t go.

¿La araña que salvaste te pico
- Que vas a hacer? -
Y el hombre que ayudaste te hizo mal
- ¡Dale nomas! -
Y todo el carnaval
Gritando pisoteo
La mano fraternal
Que Dios te dio.

The spider that ya rescued went ’n’ bit ya
-Whatcha gonna do?-
And the man ya helped ’as gone ’n’ wronged ya
-Keep on givin’!-
And the whole carnival band
Is screamin’ aloud and stompin’ on
The brotherly hand
That God held out to ya.

¡Qué desencuentro!
Si hasta Dios esta lejano!
Lloras por dentro.
Todo es cuento, todo es vil.

What a wild mismatch!
Yeah - even if God ’as gone far-’n’-wide!
Y’re cryin’ inside.
All’s a sad story, everything’s vile.

En el corso a contramano
Un grupi trampeo a Jesus...
No te fies ni de tu hermano,
Se te cuelgan de la cruz.

Set one way ’n’ goin’ another
A groupie tricked ’n’ betrayed Jesus…
Ya can’t trust not even y’r own brother
'cuz they’ll hang ya on the cross.

Quisiste con ternura, y el amor
Te devoro de atras hasta el riñon.
Se rieron de tu abrazo y ahi nomas
Te hundieron con rencor todo el arpon.

Ya loved tenderly ’n’ true, and then love - it
Ate ya all up all the way down back o’ the kidneys.
They made fun of y’r embrace ’n’ then ’n’ there
Plunged that nasty ’arpoon all the rest o’ the ways.

Amargo desencuentro, porque ves
Que es al reves.
Creiste en la honradez
Y en la Moral.
Que estupidez!
Por eso en tu total
Fracaso de vivir,
Ni el tiro del final
Te va ha salir.
A bitter rotten mismatch, for ya see
That it’s all topsy.
Trustin’ honor’bility
An’ in right ’n’ wrong?
Such stupidity!
So now that y’r lifelong
Flop’s endin’ with a thud,              
E’en a last shot’d go wrong
And turn out a dud.

Listen to Roberto "El Polaco" Goyeneche sing Desencuentro here:


This is a grim, even cruel tango made more humane by its conversational tone–a frank telling of the truth to an unfortunate soul, a friend, perhaps, who has made a hash of life. The contractions and the phonetic renderings of “you” as “ya” reflect this personal edge, while also tightening the syllables in a way more consistent with the Spanish. This encourages an interpretation “in role,” with a speaker and imaginary listener, a theatrical monologue in a larger drama.

John Osburn