Skip to main content

Como dos extraños

After John's recitation in English of this plaintive tango, María Graña's version was played for the crowd. It is more a canción than a dance tune, but several couples took to their feet in Esquina de Falucho at Café Argentino in Brooklyn. There were two sets of live music by Javier Sánchez (bandoneón) and Marizio Najt (keyboard).

Como dos extraños (1940)
Letra de José María Contursi
Música de Pedro Laurenz

Like Two Strangers (1940)
Lyrics by José María Contursi, trans. J. Osburn
Music by Pedro Laurenz
Me acobardó la soledad
y el miedo enorme de morir lejos de ti...
¡Qué ganas tuve de llorar
sintiendo junto a mí
la burla de la realidad!
Y el corazón me suplicó
que te buscara y que le diera tu querer...
Me lo pedía el corazón
y entonces te busqué
creyéndote mi salvación...

It’s being alone that daunted me…
the looming fear that I might die so far apart from you…
How, oh how, I wanted to cry,
feeling myself subjected to
the mocking cruelty of reality!
I obeyed no less than the heart’s demand
that I seek you out and give you back your love…
I did the bidding of the heart
believing if I found you
you would keep me from falling apart…

Y ahora que estoy frente a ti
parecemos, ya ves, dos extraños...
Lección que por fin aprendí:
¡cómo cambian las cosas los años!
Angustia de saber muertas ya
la ilusión y la fe...
Perdón si me ves lagrimear...
¡Los recuerdos me han hecho mal!

Now that we’re face to face I apprehend
that we, don’t you see, are as two strangers…
The lesson I learned in the end:
how the years as they pass really do change things.
The anguish of knowing that love will die
if faith and hope already have…
I didn’t mean for you to see me cry…
it’s the memories have made me ill!
Palideció la luz del sol
al escucharte fríamente conversar…
Fue tan distinto nuestro amor
y duele comprobar
que todo, todo terminó.
¡Qué gran error volverte a ver
para llevarme destrozado el corazón!
Son mil fantasmas, al volver
burlándose de mí,
las horas de ese muerto ayer…

The sun’s own light dimmed and went pallid
on hearing the coldness of your words and sighs…
Our love was unlike any other
and it hurt to realize
that it all—all of it ended.
How rash it was to see you this way,
to present you on a platter a heart destroyed!
The deadly hours of yesterday
are a thousand phantoms
come to taunt me again today…
Listen to María Graña sing Como dos extraños here:


Notes
This is a subtle lyric whose meanings multiply on successive encounters. It tells a story and captures a moment of personal crisis and deep realization. As usual, I set out to reflect the lines and rhyme schemes, I hope without taking too much license along the way.
—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…

Me quedé mirándola

Past and present merge as the narrator comes face-to-face with an old love, the reality of change, and the finality of endings. John and Renée recited this tango at the first Milonga Falucho of the new year, with Pablo Cafici (piano), Javier Sánchez (bandoneón), and DJ Carlos Quiroga, also celebrating.

Me quedé mirándola (1945) Letra de Roberto Miró Musica de Vicente Spina

I Stayed There Watching Her (1945) Lyrics by Roberto Miró, trans. J. Osburn Music by Vicente Spina
Después de un año atroz de soledad volvimos a encontrarnos sin querer, de pronto los recuerdos de otros días que cantaba y que reía acudieron en tropel. Mis labios balbucearon con temor, los ojos le contaron mi dolor, mis ansias de encontrarla fueron tantas que oprimida la garganta me quedé mirándola.
After a long atrocious year of solitude we chanced to find ourselves face-to-face again, but sudden memories so soon thereafter of other days of song and laughter came to mind in vicious hordes. My lips stammered and were afraid my eyes gave a…