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tigres de la ira

Absinthe in the Tango Lyrics

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The things went this way:


In South America -as in Spain- Absinthe was known as "Ajenjo". In Argentina between 1890 - 1914 existed the only absinthe´s disteillery in South America that I have record named Ajenjo Arbide ("The distillery was a small one, and it was not in the city of Buenos Aires, but in the town of Rosario, about 300 kilometers north of the capital city") [1].




By the other side Pernord Fils was distribuited in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, that caused that Absinthe was also known as "Pernord" and with this name Absinthe appear in some tango lyrics.


The other name used to reffer to "Ajenjo" in Tango Lyrics was "Suisse".




After this brief history introduction I want to post in this topic Tango songs about Absinthe or in connection with.


To the begining, the most famous of them: "Copa de Ajenjo/Cup of Absinthe"




(not is the best "video", but maybe is one of the best interpretations of the song)


L: Carlos Pesce.
M: Juan Canaro.


Suena tango compañero,
suena que 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 compañero,
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 compañero
como una recordación,
si lloro porque la quiero,
son cosas del corazón!
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...


My translation:



Sounds, tango my friend,


Sounds, cause I want to sing,

This night I wait for her

And I know she´s not gonna arrive,

And in this cup of Absinthe

In vain my pains I want to drown,

Sounds, tango my friend,

Sounds, I want to cry.


I loved her so much

And haunted by her charms

Today I lost my dignity;


I`m a hopeless drunk

That in the cup of the oblivion


Wants his happiness;

Whims of fate are

That a woman loved him,

If my fate is marked

Who knows she´s gonna back…

But I wait for her!

Sounds, Tango my friend


Like a rememberance,

If I cry cause I love her,

Is because things of the heart are!

Serve another Absinth drink

Nobody cares if I´m gonna get drunk,

Cause this night I wait for her

And I know she`s not gonna arrive…





[1] This information was provided by Oscar Vicario, the great grandson of one of the proprietors and published at The Virtual Absinthe Museum.




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While we knew of the Argentinian and tango connection not many have investigated the history that much. This is great to hear, an absinthe tradition in South America that had an effect on culture.


I wonder how many modern tango dancers know of this connection? Makes me want to learn to dance for a change.

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Most of the information about the tango lyrics connection I have taken it from the Eduardo Berti's argentinian introduction to the Phil Baker's book “The Dedalus of Absinthe”.

The complete tango connection with the absinthe I think that it's more complex and the lyrics are only the tip of the iceberg. The Tango El Pescante narrates the voice of a carriage driver singing “In my adventures I lived madness of love and Suisse” (Suisse is a way to saying Absinthe), this tango lyrics was written by Homero Manzi with music of Sebastian Piana. It's strange that this Tango written in 1934 refers to Absinthe, for its european ban, but the most of the Tango Lyrics referring to Absinthe are of the decades of 20 and 30, in connection with the beginig of the european tours of the Tango artists.


Nor should we forget the European immigration between 1880 to 1914 to Argentina and its influence on social life. Maybe the reference to the figure of Eduardo Arolas, bandoneon player and composer who along with Carlos Gardel and Enrique Cadícamo were part of the Montmartre's bohemian it's the clearest example. Arolas born in Buenos Aires In 1892 of French parents, dying in Paris in 1924 “ill and alcoholic”. In 1949 his friend enrique Cadícamo wrotes the Tango Adiós Arolas (Se llamaba Eduardo Arolas) drawing the fee verte image in the Arolas life.


Adiós Arolas (Se llamaba Eduardo Arolas)

L: Enrique Cadícamo
M: Ángel D'Agostino

Con tu bandoneón querido, With your beloved bandoneon,
Eduardo Arolas te fuiste, Eduardo Arolas you gone,
enfermo de amor y triste lovesick and sad
en busca de olvido. in search of oblivion.
No se apartó de tu lado never left your side

aquel amor del que huías that love of wich you fled

y al escapar te seguía and in your scape follows you
una sombra de mujer. a womans shadow.


El veneno verde del Pernod The green poison of Pernod
fue tu amigo de bohemia, was your friend at the bohemia,
y tu triste inspiración and your sad inspiration
floreció en tu bandeneón blossomed in your bandoneon
como flores de tu anemia. as flowers in your anemia.
Y una noche fría de París, And in a cold night of Paris,
pobre Arolas te morías, poor Arolas you died,
cuarto oscuro de pensión, dark room of a boarding house,
una lluvia fina y gris light and grayish rain
y la muerte tras cartón. and the sudden death comes.

Aquella noche en Montmartre That night at Montmartre
estaba en copas, de fiesta, was drinks and party,
y vos oyendo tu orquesta and you hearing your orchesta
pensando sanarte. thinking being healthy.
Las notas de un tango tuyo The notes of one of your Tango
desde el cabaret llegaban from the cabaret arrives
y el bandoneón te rezaba and the bandoneón prays
un responso compadrón a responsory for his friend.


[edited 19/02/2014 por mi inglés]

Edited by tigres de la ira

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