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Desperate to quench the desire of a failed romance, the narrator of this tango seeks comfort in companionship and drink. After being recited by Renée and John in Milonga Falucho at Scopa on Seventh, it was performed live by Sofía Tosello (voice), Pablo Estigarribia (piano), and Javier Sánchez (bandoneón).

Nostalgias (1936)
Música de Juan Carlos Cobián
Letra de Enrique Cadícamo

Heartsickness [Nostalgias] (1936)
Music by Juan Carlos Cobián
Lyrics by Enrique Cadícamo, trans. J. Osburn

Quiero emborrachar mi corazón
Para apagar un loco amor
Que más que amor es un sufrir...
Y aquí vengo para eso,
A borrar antiguos besos
En los besos de otras bocas...
Si su amor fue "flor de un día"
¿Porqué causa es siempre mía
Esa cruel preocupación?
Quiero por los dos mi copa alzar
Para olvidar mi obstinación
Y más la vuelvo a recordar.

Let me inebriate my beating heart,
Snuffing the fire of a crazy love
That is more of suff’ring than of love…
And I have come here only for this,
To wipe away those old kisses
On the sweet red lips of other mouths…
If her love was but the bloom of a day,
How is it I am the one to pay
This cruel cost of worry and dread?
I’ll raise a cup to two of a kind,
Letting go all the stubborn things I’ve said,
And all the more she’ll come back to mind.

De escuchar su risa loca
Y sentir junto a mi boca
Como un fuego su respiración.
De sentirme abandonado
Y pensar que otro a su lado
Pronto... pronto le hablará de amor...
Yo no quiero rebajarme,
Ni pedirle, ni llorarle,
Ni decirle que no puedo más vivir...
Desde mi triste soledad veré caer
Las rosas muertas de mi juventud.
I’m sick at heart
To hear the inanity of her laugh
To feel against me mouth-to-mouth
Something hot like a smouldering fire.
And the anguish
Of feeling I have been thrown aside
And thinking of another at her side...
Soon he’ll… he’ll turn to her soon and speak of love…
Ah brother!
I don’t want to cut myself down,
Nor to beg nor in tears to drown,
Nor to say I can no longer live at all…
From the drear of loneliness I will watch fall
The dried up roses of my thorny youth.

Gime, bandoneón, tu tango gris,
Quizá a ti te hiera igual
Algún amor sentimental...
Llora mi alma de fantoche
Sola y triste en esta noche,
Noche negra y sin estrellas...
Si las copas traen consuelo
Aquí estoy con mi desvelo
Para ahogarlos de una vez...
Quiero emborrachar mi corazón
Para después poder brindar
"Por los fracasos del amor"...
Cry me, bandoneón, your tango grey,
Maybe one that will hurt you as much,
Some sentimental love or such…
Pluck the frayed strings of my puppet soul,
Longful and abandoned without console,
Sleepless on this night unlit by stars…
If another cup brings solace,
I’ll be here in a solitary wake
Downing another after another…
Let me inebriate my beaten heart
So after we can raise a cup
To all the joys of breaking up…

Listen to Sofía Tosello sing Nostalgias here.


"Nostalgia," with or without an “s,” isn’t an apt translation of the seemingly identical Spanish as it is used in this legendary tango. It doesn’t entail the recrimination, regret, or sexual longing that the original does. “Heartsickness” was the equivalent I hit upon. I felt differently about “cup” for copa, which would normally be “glass” in English. But “cup” implies what is in the vessel, as well as the container itself; and there is a tradition of “raising a cup” for nostalgia's sake, most famously in Auld lang syne.” The archaic ring, for a tango written in 1936, seems about right.
--John Osburn