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A tango about absinthe

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Pierre Ordinaire (Dr_ordinaire)
Elitist Bastard
Username: Dr_ordinaire

Post Number: 440
Registered: 7-2001
Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 9:57 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Here's a historical oddity: a tango about absinthe.

The original title is "Copa de ajenjo", and "ajenjo" is Spanish for absinthe (and for wormwood), so it's "A cup of absinthe".

What is curious about this tango is the timing: the authors (Pesce/Canaro) did most of their writing after the mid 30's, mostly in the '40s and '50s. I have done a lot of consulting with tango experts but nobody can tell me the original date of this piece. The only reference I've found is of a recording being made in 1952. I've also found out that this tango is part of a collection of the 100 best tangos of the last century, so it must have been pretty popular at the time.

So let's say mid '40s. The interesting part is that for an Argentinean at that time the expression "A cup of absinthe" had a meaning. Could it be that Argentina, like Chile (thanks, Chev!) forgot to ban absinthe?

So here's the tango. Please be in the look-out for subtle insights and small poetic jewels. There aren't any. If you find any, blame a bad translation. The lyrics are the tritest, most unintendedly self-parodying drivel you can think of. Even the grammar is wrong. Boy loves girl, girl leaves boy, boy gets drunk and mopes. This is absinthe's turn, but you can find hundreds of tangos with variations on wine, gin, grappa, whisky and other assorted alcoholic beverages.

Copa de Ajenjo.

Suena tango compaņero,
suena que te quiero cantar,
porque esta noche la espero
y se que no ha de llegar,
y en esta copa de ajenjo
en vano pretendo mis penas ahogar;
suena tango compaņero,
suena que quiero llorar.

Pensar que la quise tanto
y embrujao por sus encantos
hoy perdi la dignidad;
soy un borracho perdido
que en la copa del olvido
busca su felicidad;
son caprichos del destino
que lo quiso una mujer,
si esta marcado mi sino
quien sabe si ha de volver...
pero yo la esperare!...

Suena tango compaņero
como una recordacion,
si lloro porque la quiero,
son cosas del corazon!
Sirva otra copa de ajenjo
que a nadie le importa si quiero tomar,
porque esta noche la espero
y se que no ha de llegar...

Cup of absinthe

Sound, tango, my buddy,
sound, that I want to sing,
because this night I wait for her
and I know she's not coming
and in this cup of absinthe
unsuccessfully I try to drown my sadness;
sound, tango, my buddy,
sound, that I want to cry.

To think that I loved her so much
and bewitched by her charms
today my dignity is lost;
I'm a filthy drunk
that in the cup of forgetfulness
searches for happiness;
Destiny's whimses
the way a woman wanted them,
if my "karma" is written
who knows whether she's coming back...
but I will wait for her!...

Sound, tango, my buddy
like a memento,
if I cry because I love her,
those are the ways of the heart!
Serve me another cup of absinthe
nobody cares if I want to drink,
because this night I'm waiting for her
and I know she's not coming...

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