Cambalache   1 comment

CAMBALACHE
Bazaar (1935)
LYRICS by: Enrique Santos Discepolo
MUSIC by: Enrique Santos Discepolo
TRANSLATION by: Alberto Paz
Last updated on: 12/25/11
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Several times in the twentieth century, self-appointed monitors of good taste and manners have used censorship to silence the people’s voice in Argentina. In one notorious instance of taking intolerance to their maximum degree, military rulers waged a “dirty war” against the people of Argentina silencing the dissenting voices of the people by making them “disappear” from the face of the earth. The infamous Secretaria de Prensa y Radiodifusion has been in the past the hideout of coward footmen of the military regimes that held Argentina hostage for many years at a time. Safely protected by the forces of repression, these individuals found no better things to do than attempting to “cleanse” the language of the popular music of Buenos Aires, a.k.a. the Tango. In other words they pretended to legislate culture by the use of power.
The Tango lore is full of anecdotes referring to the periods in which it felt the wrath of the censors, the castrators of the social expression of the people at large who in many instances where inhabitants of the south part of the city. One may only guess where the censors lived or aspired to move to.
During the presidency of Gen. Juan Peron (1940-50’s), the forces behind SADAIC, the Society of Authors and Composers, finally decided to bring the issue of censorship directly to Peron. Led by Homero Manzi, the group began to arrive to Casa Rosada, the presidential office. Alberto Vacarezza, a well known playwright had been mugged on the bus on his way to the meeting. Alerted to this fact, Peron using a very graphic lunfardo expression greeted Vacarezza saying, “me entere que lo afanaron en el bondi.” Everybody knew at that moment, with Peron using the street language to refer to Vacarezza’s being mugged on the bus, that the long period of Tango censorship had ended.
It is a common mistake to assume that the lyrics of the Tangos were written by uneducated pimps and compadritos. To the contrary, from Pascual Contursi to Homero Manzi, most celebrated authors were very well educated and consummated poets. The fact that they choose to use the language of the people to write poetry to Tango music earned them the respect of all of us who love the Tango with a passion, but most of them, were seldom given the proper recognition by the ruling intellectual elite.
Today, the Tango snobs of the world quote Borges or Marechal, who finally caved in to the pressure of their European fellow socialites who appreciating the Tango could not understand why they despised it so much. Even, today, the injustice continues, very few people acknowledge the gigantic work of Manzi, Contursi, and Discepolo and many others.
Let’s talk about Discepolin. In the fundamental poetic line of Discepolo we see the moralist observing the social context and complaining bitterly about the depravity that surrounds him. He desperately searches for God and painfully denounces the lack of values.
Discepolo contributed to a more instinctive and metaphysical vision of the Tango. In many ways he called for ethical parameters for a sociopolitical scene lacking moral attributes. His first fundamental work was “Que vachache” written in 1925 but the subject of this commentary is “Cambalache” which he wrote about ten years later.
An interpretation of his lyrics may help understand why the military rulers that came into power in 1976 “recommended” that it not be broadcast on radio and television.
Of particular interest are the verses,
“Mixed with Stavinsky (a notorious swindler), you have Don Bosco (catholic priest founder of the Salesian Order) and La Mignon (a well kept lover), don Chicho (the nickname of the infamous head of the Buenos Aires mafia) and Napoleon, Carnera (a popular Italian boxer) and San Martin (Argentina’s general who led the forces of liberation from Argentina to Chile and Peru).
CASTELLANO
ENGLISH
Que el mundo fue y sera una porqueria,
ya lo se…
En el quinientos seis
y en el dos mil también!
Que siempre ha habido chorros,
maquiavelos y estafaos,
contentos y amargaos,
valores y dublés…
Pero que el siglo veinte
es un despliegue
de maldad insolente
ya no hay quien lo niegue.
Vivimos revolcaos en un merengue
y en un mismo lodo
todos manoseaos…

Hoy resulta que es lo mismo
ser derecho que traidor..!
Ignorante, sabio, chorro,
generoso o estafador!
Todo es igual! Nada es mejor!
Lo mismo un burro
que un gran profesor!
No hay aplazaos ni escalafon,
los inmorales nos han igualao.
Si uno vive en la impostura
y otro roba en su ambicion,
da lo mismo que sea cura,
colchonero, rey de bastos,
caradura o polizon…

Que falta de respeto,
que atropello a la razon!
Cualquiera es un señor!
Cualquiera es un ladron!
Mezclao con Stavisky va Don Bosco
y “La Mignon,”
Don Chicho y Napoleon,
Carnera y San Martin…
Igual que en la vidriera irrespetuosa
de los cambalaches
se ha mezclao la vida
y herida por un sable sin remache
ves llorar la Biblia
contra un calefon.

Siglo veinte, cambalache
problematico y febril!
El que no llora, no mama,
y el que no afana es un gil.
Dale nomas! Dale que va!
Que alla en el horno
nos vamo a encontrar!
No pienses mas,
sentate a un lao.
Que a nadie importa
si naciste honrao.
Que es lo mismo el que labura
noche y dia, como un buey
que el que vive de los otros,
que el que mata o el que cura
o esta fuera de la ley.

That the world was and always be filth,
I already know…
In the year five hundred and six
and in the year two thousand too!
There always have been thieves,
traitors and victims of fraud,
happy and bitter people,
valuables and imitations
But, that the twentieth century
is a display
of insolent malice,
nobody can deny it anymore.
We lived sunk in a fuzz
and in the same mud
all well-worn…

Today it happens it is the same
to be decent or a traitor!
To be an ignorant, a genius, a pickpocket,
a generous person or a swindler!
All is the same! Nothing is better!
They are the same, an idiot ass
and a great professor!
There are no failing grades or merit valuations,
the immoral have caught up with us.
If one lives in a pose
and another, in his ambition, steals,
it’s the same if it’s a priest,
a mattress maker, a king of clubs,
a cad or a tramp.

What a lack of respect,
what a way to run over reason!
Anybody is a gentleman!
Anybody is a thief!
Mixed with Stavisky, you have Don Bosco
and La Mignon
don Chicho and Napoleon,
Carnera and San Martin.
Like in the disrespectful window
of the bazaars,
life is mixed up,
and wounded by a sword without rivets
you can see a Bible crying
next to a water heater.

Twentieth century, bazaar
problematic and feverish!
If you don’t cry, you don’t get fed
and if you don’t steal, you’re a stupid.
Go ahead! Keep it up!
That there, in hell
we’re gonna reunite.
Don’t think anymore,
move out of the way.
Nobody seems to care
if you were born honest.
That is the same the one who works,
day and night like an ox,
than the one who lives from the others,
than the one that kills or heals
or the one who lives outside the law.


Copyright (c) Planet Tango 1998-2011 All Rights Reserved

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Posted February 15, 2011 by Alberto & Valorie in Discepolo

Tagged with , ,

One response to “Cambalache

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  1. Hola!
    Estoy buscando la letra de Cambalache pero en algún formato tipo srt o sub, con los tiempos, cosa de poder unirlo a un video, ¿tenés idea dónde lo puedo conseguir? En opensubtitles.org no está…

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