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El ciruja   Leave a comment

EL CIRUJA
The ‘surgeon’ (1926)
LYRICS by: Alfredo Marino
MUSIC by: Ernesto de la Cruz
TRANSLATION by: Alberto Paz
Last updated on: 11/18/13
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Sing along with EDMUNDO RIVERO

 When you thought that your Spanish was good enough to add that touch of authenticity to your tanguero personality, somebody with connections dropped the word “lunfardo” in between sips from a silver metal straw, similar to the one Pablo Veron was sucking from when he first received Sally Potter at his Parissian pad. ‘Lunwhat’ you said? Then you got this academic explanation about secret languages used by lawyers, medical doctors, engineers, and how the scoundrels of early Buenos Aires also had their own secret language. Now you not only have to deal with the cliche about the pimp and the prostitute, but you may have to put up with some creep muttering strange words with an air of importance.Relax, the only connections that the guy has, are a modem and a Company provided e-mail address. Tango passion is not a substitute for good sanitary practices, so also forget about sucking the mate brew from the communal metal straw. If the bacteria doesn’t get you, the laxative effects of the green concoction will.Take what Tango brings to you in stride and accept the fact that it has taken over one hundred years of evolution for the music, the poetry and the dance to reach us at this stage of our lives. It does not matter what others do or have done before. Nobody can really improve their dancing by pretending to be someone else. What counts is your own experience, how you live your life and how the Tango is now part of it.

This had been the subject of a conversation with La Mariposa a.k.a. Valorie, as we were cruising along I-5 through the San Joaquin Valley in California on a scorching August afternoon. This is the fastest way between Northern and Southern California, and it is also the gateway that connects you via I-10 to Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, San Antonio, Houston and New Orleans.

We had done the trek upand down I-5 many times passing the time and watching the straight line of asphalt dissapear as far as the eyes can see. CD after CD was being popped in and out of the car stereo by the best DJ on wheels any man can hope for. She has a knack for picking out the right set to go along with the scenery and the time of the day. Rodolfo Biagi in the early hours of the morning when the eyes sneak in a few treacheous winks after an all night ride. Osvaldo Pugliese in the middle of the night under a star studded sky bathed in a milky mist by a silver dollar size full moon, as the Joshua trees of the Arizona desert wave their petrified salute. Carlos Di Sarli early in the evening, when local commuters slow down our pace
unaware of our eagerness to get swiftly to wherever it is that our Tango travels take us. But I digress…

Long car trips have given us the opportunity to catch up with the music we haven’t had the chance to listen to for a long time. Such was the case one evening when the thundering voice of Edmundo Rivero filled the air with the quintessential lunfardo lyrics of El ciruja. “What does ‘ciruja’ mean?” she asked. A couple of hours later she was still writing the story of The Surgeon after having listened to Rivero countless times while I tried to interpret the lunfardo content of the lyrics into a context of English that even Lucy Ricardo would understand.

For inquisitive minds, there is a Lunfardo Dictionary written by Jose Gobello, who is the founder and president of the Lunfardo Academy in Buenos Aires. I have used it for many years because contrary to popular belief most Argentines of my generation only picked up a few words of lunfardo here and there as we grew up on the streets of the city. The language originated as a fusion between the dialects brought to Buenos Aires by the rogue elements from all over Europe, and a code of words used by thieves and criminals in jail in order to confuse the guards. With the passing of time new generations of tenement inhabitants incorporated a characteristic dialect which became the unofficial language of the slums. For the cultural elite,
lunfardo represented the idiom of the uneducated and the lower class. In spite of all their prejudice, popular theater plays, known generally as sainetes, the circus and the encounters of the rich and well-to-do with the populace at seedy bars and brothels, began a steady migration of lunfardo words into the mainstream of popular jargon.

In 1917 Pascual Contursi wrote some verses for a melody already in existence. The music had been around for a while under the name of Lita composed by Samuel Castriota. Contursi’s ironic account of a sappy pimp in love bleeding over the flight of a whore began with the lunfardo expression, “Percanta que me amuraste…” (Woman who abandoned me…) They say that Gardel fell in love with the song, risked his reputation as a Creole Crooner, and going against sound advice, he presented it it on stage under the name of Mi noche triste. It was the beginning of a new era for the Tango. Tango lyrics had arrived. For years to come, popular bards burned the midnight oil pouring out chronicles of love, hate, pain and sorrow.

A fledging middle class just loved the vocals which somehow reflected their own lives. Everybody could identify with infidelity, treason, broken hearts, blind ambition and revenge. In 1926, Alfredo Marino had the brilliant inspiration of writing the lyrics of a Tango with a heavy lunfardo content. It has become the quintessential lunfardo Tango lyric. The story is very simple and predictable, but the talent of Marino has made El ciruja a classic.

The word ‘ciruja’ at first brings the image of a hobo, a vagrant, a scavenger, and that is what probably our friend with the connections would try to impress you with, but the truth is that Marino uses a pure lunfardo expression to nickname his protagonist, the surgeon, because of his knack for the handling of the blade. Not only does he call him the surgeon, but he uses a shortened version of the actual Spanish word ‘cirujano,’ ciruja.

CASTELLANO
ENGLISH
Como con bronca y junando
de rabo de ojo a un costado,
sus pasos ha encamindo
derecho pa’l arrabal.
Lo lleva el presentimiento
de que en aquel potrerito
no existe ya el bulincito
que fue su unico ideal.Recordaba aquellas horas de garufa
cuando minga de laburo se pasaba,
meta punga al codillo escolaseaba
y en los burros se ligaba un metejon.
Cuando no era tan junao por los tiras
la lanceaba sin tener el manyamiento,
una mina le solfeaba todo el vento
y jugo con su pasion.

Era un mosaico diquero
que yugaba de quemera,
hija de una curandera,
mechera de profesion.
Pero vivia engrupida
de un cafiolo vidalita
y le pasaba la guita
que le chacaba al maton.

Frente a frente dando muestra de coraje
los dos guapos se trenzaron en el bajo,
y el Ciruja, que era listo para el tajo,
al cafiolo le cobro caro su amor.
Hoy ya libre ‘e la gayola y sin la mina
campaneando un cacho ‘e sol en la vereda,
piensa un rato en el amor de la quemera
y solloza en su dolor.

Appearing “angry” and “looking”
through the side of his eyes
he has directed his steps
straight for the slum.
He just knew what was going to happen
his intuition took him to that place,
to that vacant lot, where he just knew
his little shack, his ideal little place, no longer existed.He remembered those hours of great parties
when “lacking” “work,” he spent his time
“pickpocketing” and “playing cards”
and he had a passion for the “ponies.”
When he was not “well known” by the “cops”
he could “rob at knife point” without “knowing”
that a “girl” was “robbing” all the “money” from him
and toyed with his love.

She was a “common woman” with “airs of grandeur”
that “toiled” around as a “burning dump scavenger”
she was the daughter of a quack woman,
“shoplifter” by trade.
But she was “deluded”
by a pimp of long standing
who’s got all the dough
that the bully spent on her.

Face to face showing big courage
the two brawlers crossed knives in the dark
the Ciruja who was fast with the knife
made the pimp pay too dearly his love.
Out of jail now and with no maiden
staring at the sun on the sidewalk
thinks awhile in the girl’s love
and sobs in his pain.

Copyright (c) Planet Tango 1998-2013 All Rights Reserved

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Lo han visto con otra   Leave a comment

LO HAN VISTO CON OTRA
They’ve seen him with someone else (1928)
LYRICS by: Horacio Pettorossi
MUSIC by: Horacio Pettorossi
TRANSLATION by: Alberto Paz
Last updated on: 1/6/12
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Sing along with EDMUNDO RIVERO with ORQUESTA HORACIO SALGAN

Requested by Juan from Switzerland. “Te agradezco anticipadamente y te felicito por el maravilloso trabajo que hacen, para poder compartir con argentinos por el mundo amantes del tango. Saludos, Juan”
CASTELLANO
ENGLISH
Lo han visto con otra, te han dicho esta tarde
lo han visto con otra, con otra mujer,
Que no lo querias hacias alarde
mas hoy confesabas tu hondo querer.
Ya ves vecinita, lo ingrata que has sido
ayer te burlabas de su pobre amor
pero hoy una amiga te ha dicho al oido:
“Lo he visto con otra”, y lloras de dolor.

Tango, tango,
vos que fuiste el amigo
confidente de su amor.
Tango, tango,
hoy precisa de tu ayuda
para calmar su dolor
Tango, tango,
vos que estas en todas partes
esta noche es la ocasion
de que llegue hasta su reja
el eco de una queja
de un triste bandoneon

Yo tengo una pena que llevo en el alma
por una perversa que no se olvidar
sus ojos muy negros robaron mi calma
y sufro en silencio yo no se llorar
Ya ves yo no tengo tampoco alegrias,
por eso me apena el verte sufrir,
tambien en mis noches muy tristes y frias
las horas son largas, no puedo dormir.

They’ve seen him with someone else, they told you this afternoon
they’ve seen him with someone else, with another woman,
That you didn’t love him, you had been boasting
but now you confessed your deep love.
So you see, little neighbor, how ungrateful you’ve been
Yesterday you mocked his poor love
but today a friend has told you in the ear:
“They have seen him with another woman,” and you cry from the pain.

Tango, tango,
you who were the friend
confident of his love.
Tango, tango,
today she needs your help
to sooth her pain.
Tango, tango,
you who are everywhere
tonight is the occasion
that it come into her gate
the echo of a moaning
of a sad bandoneon.

I have a pain that I carry in my soul
for a perverse one that I didn’t know how to forget
her very black eyes stole my calm
and I suffer in silence and I do not how to cry
You see I have no joys either,
that’s why I’m sorry to see you suffer,
also in my nights very sad and cold
the hours are long, I can not sleep.


Copyright (c) Planet Tango 1998-2012 All Rights Reserved

Sur   1 comment

SUR
South (1948)
LYRICS by: Homero Manzi
MUSIC by: Anibal Troilo
TRANSLATION by: Alberto Paz
Last updated on: 8/13/12
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Sing along with EDMUNDO RIVERO with ANIBAL TROILO

The corner of San Juan and Boedo Avenues, is an intersection made famous by Homero Manzi in his tango Sur. An act of Congress in 1995 that declared the bar at that location an area of historical Interest. That is why the exterior of the building has been preserved as is. In 2000 the bar was renamed Homero Manzi.
The lyrics of the tango evoke the younger years of Homero Manzi first living with his parents near San Juan and Boedo and later being a pupil at a school in the neighborhood of Pompeya. With his verses, Manzi links the two neighborhood in a romantic image of a time that is part of his memories.
CASTELLANO
ENGLISH
San Juan y Boedo antigua y todo el cielo,
Pompeya y, mas alla, la inundacion,
tu melena de novia en el recuerdo,
y tu nombre flotando en el adios…
La esquina del herrero barro y pampa,
tu casa, tu vereda y el zanjon
y un perfume de yuyos y de alfalfa
que me llena de nuevo el corazon.

Sur… paredon y despues…
Sur… una luz de almacen…
Ya nunca me veras como me vieras,
recostado en la vidriera
y esperandote,
ya nunca alumbrare con las estrellas
nuestra marcha sin querellas
por las noches de Pompeya.
Las calles y las lunas suburbanas
y mi amor en tu ventana
todo ha muerto, ya lo se.

San Juan y Boedo antigua, cielo perdido,
Pompeya y, al llegar al terraplen,
tus veinte años temblando de cariño
bajo el beso que entonces te robe.
Nostalgia de las cosas que han pasado,
arena que la vida se llevo,
pesadumbte del barrio que ha cambiado
y amargura del sueño que murio.

Old San Juan and Boedo street corner, the whole sky
Pompeya and farther down, the floods
Your bride’s loose hair in my memory
and your name floating in the farewell
The blacksmith’s corner, mud and pampa,
your house, your sidewalk, and the deep ditch
and a scent of weeds and of alfalfa
that fills my heart all over again.

South, a large wall and then…
South, a light from a general store…
You’ll never see me again, like you saw me,
reclined on the glass window
and waiting for you.
I’ll never illuminate with the stars
our walk without quarrels
on the evenings of Pompeya…
The streets and the suburban moons,
and my love on your window,
all is dead, I know it…

Old San Juan and Boedo street corner, lost sky,
Pompeya and reaching the embankment,
your twenty years trembling with affection
under the kiss I then stole from you.
Nostalgia of things that have past,
sand that life swept away,
sorrow of the barrio that have changed,
and bitterness of a dream that died.

Copyright (c) Planet Tango 1998-2012 All Rights Reserved

Posted May 25, 2010 by Alberto & Valorie in Homero Manzi

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