Skip to main content

El bazar de los juguetes

The last Milonga Falucho of the year celebrated the the holiday season with made-on-the-spot pasta at Arte Cafe in Chelsea and live music from the Javier Sanchez Quartet (Sergio Reyes, violin; Martha Kato, piano; Andrew Rothstein, bass; and Sanchez, bandoneón). The recitation by Renée and John struck a holiday note too, followed by DJ María Valentina with the classic Caló-Podesta recording to begin the next tanda.

El bazar de los juguetes (1954)
Letra de Reinaldo Yiso
Música de Roberto Rufino

The Toy Store (1954)
Lyrics by Reinaldo Yiso, trans J. Osburn
Music by Roberto Rufino

Patrón cierre la puerta, no me mire asombrado,
le compro los juguetes que tiene en el bazar.
Yo se los compro todos, no importa lo que gasto,
dinero no me falta para poder pagar.
Por una sola noche yo quiero ser rey mago,
para que los purretes de todo el arrabal
mañana al despertarse aprieten en sus manos
el sol de esta alegría que yo les quiero dar.

Lock up, shopkeeper, it’s not my intent to give you a scare,
believe me, I’ll pay you for all the toys in your store.
I ‘ll buy everything in here, for I’ve money to spare;
once I’ve bought all of this, there’ll be plenty more.
For only one night, I want to be one of the magi,
so that all the poor little children, asleep in the slum,
wake up in the morn, see gifts by their beds, and not want to cry;
the sun of joy in their hands, that’s what I’m going to give them.

Al bazar de los juguetes,
cuantas veces de purrete,
me acercaba para ver.
Para ver de allí, de afuera,
desde atrás de esa vidriera
lo que nunca iba a tener.
Si mi vieja era tan pobre
le faltaba siempre un cobre
para comprarnos el pan.
Y hoy que puedo,
que la suerte me sonríe,
yo no quiero que haya un pibe
que no tenga
ni un juguete pa' jugar.

To this little bazaar of toys,
I came many times as a boy,
eyes wide at the things on your shelf;
I’d come close to the glass and I’d stare
at all the trinkets that I wouldn’t dare
think I’d ever, never have myself.
Yes, my mother was so very poor,
with maybe a penny, nothing more,
to put bread on our table.
And now I’m able,
by the luck that smiles on me,
to do what I can so there’ll never be
a child without
a game or a toy to play with.
Yo sé lo que es sentirse en una nochebuena,
teniendo por regalo un solo cacho 'e pan,
sabiendo que los otros, cruzando la vereda,
dejaban sus juguetes allí, en medio del zaguán.
Yo sé lo que es sentirse besado tiernamente
por una pobre madre que no me pudo dar
ni el más humilde y pobre de todos los juguetes
por eso se los compro por eso nada más.
I know the way it feels to know you’re poor on a Christmas Eve,
to expect no more by your bed than a stale piece of bread,
and knowing that others, just crossing the sidewalk, will leave
their toys in the gutter, forget they are there, and walk on ahead.
I know how ’tis when a tender kiss is followed by a tear,
when it’s all she can give you, a mother so poor,
not the cheapest or humblest of the toys you have here;
that’s why I’ll buy every one in the store. 

Listen to Alberto Podesta sing El bazar de los juguetes with the great Miguel Caló orchestra:

The subject matter of this charming holiday tango reminded me of Dickens, but in fact it is in a tradition of social consciousness found frequently in tango lyrics, films, and music, especially in the ’40s and ’50s. Nonetheless, it is an atypical tango which, though tinged by nostalgia, is free of romantic bitterness. In rhyme and rhythm, I was not uninfluenced by the spirit of Clement C. Moore, who wrote “The Night Before Christmas” on an estate a few blocks from the Chelsea restaurant where the translation was presented.
—John Osburn


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…

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…

Bailarín compadrito

In the human comedy of tango, the compradito is a mythic figure, a sort of urban gaucho with a swaggering attitude, done up in a looped scarf and a slouched hat that mimicks upper class style and taunts its values. He's a stock character in tango shows and artistic depictions, and perhaps he resembles some types we see on our own dance floors. In dancing the song, one might take on or resist the persona. The composer-lyricist Miguel Eusebio Bucino was himself a dancer and bandoneón player who debuted at Teatro Maipu and performed internationally. DJ Carlos Quiroga played de Angelis's rousing version at Falucho/Chelsea following John and Renée's recitation.

Bailarín compadrito (1929) Letra y música de Miguel Eusebio Bucino

Upstart Dancer (1929) Lyrics & Music by Miguel Eusebio Bucino, trans. J. Osburn Vestido como un dandy, peinao a la gomina
y dueño de una mina más linda que una flor,
bailas en la milonga con aire de importancia,
luciendo la elegancia y haci…