Los Mareados (Music: Juan Carlos Cobian /Enrique Cadicamo (1900-1999)

Performed live by the CT Tango Ensemble:

Juan Simon – Voice
Stanislav Angelov – Accordion
Jacek Domagala – Violin
Albert Combrink – Piano

Filmed during the run of Tango Show El Beso – December 2004 at The Little Theatre – Cape Town, produced by El Cacha Tango Company, directed by Heinrich Reisenhofer (www.elcacha.com)

Juan Carlos Cobian

A deceptively simple little Tango, Los Mareados starts with a quasi-recitative, building to a very dramatic climax. It’s composer, pianist and tango-innovator Juan Carlos Cobian (1896-1953), was born in Pigüé, Buenos Aires. His fame rests on both his playing as a pianist, and his compositions. He was perhaps the first to fill in the bass line with embellishments when the melody rests. This practise was later taken up by other masters such as Francisco de Caro. Alongside the composer Enrique Delfino, Cobian was the main creator of the so-called “Tango-Romanza”. Born of Spanish father and Argentine mother, he showed early pianistic promise imitating the lessons of his sister Delores, who encouraged her parents to let her younger brother take lessons as well. After graduating from the “Conservatorio Williams” at the age of 17, he did the rounds in Buenos Aires playing for silent movies and beer houses until landing a job with the best paid bandoneonist of the time, Genaro Esposito. He was arrested for evading military service, but the time to good use, writing a number of tangos.

“Tango-poet” Enrique Cadicamo

Novelist and “Tango-poet” Enrique Cadicamo (1900-1999), born  Luján, Buenos Aires, was an early prize-winner of the Max Glücksmann competition for new tangos. His lyrics are rich in the Lunfardo style. Lunfardo is not so much a Latin dialect of Spanish, as it is a specific use of a “sub-set” of that language, rich in imagery that might be lost on the audience – or not, depending on how one is using it. Lunfardo is frequently found in the lyrics of Tangos, supplying nuances and double-entendres with overtones of sex, drugs and the criminal underworld. It is an integral part of the Spanish spoken in Argentina, Uruguay, even parts of Paraguay and Chile. But for all practical purposes, Lunfardo is not understood by the general Spanish speakers from other countries. In the mouths of some, Lunfardo is mere slang. In the pen of Cadicamo, it’s power even attracted the ire of censorship.

Buenos Aires 1943

From “Los dopados” to “Los Mareados” to “En mi passado” and back again.

Cobian originally composed Los Mareados as an instrumental tango. The lyrics were added by Raúl Doblas and Alberto Weisbach for use in the play “Los Dopados” (The doped) which premièred in Buenos Aires in 1922. The acidic text describes two lovers breaking up and swearing to get angrily and madly drunk together on “Champagne that kills your little soul”. The show was soon forgotten.

Two decades later, Cadicamo heard an old record of the song with Cobian himself on the piano. He wrote new words, repeating the central theme of the bitter champagne-drinking break-up. So, in 1942 Los Mareados was recorded again and was an instant hit on the local radio stations. But not for long: just three years before Juan Domingo Perón became president, the military government clamped down on Lunfardo elements in all forms of public life. Suspect literature and music were banned, and Los Mareados was no longer allowed radio play.

Eva & Juan Perón

Cadicamo, locked in an office with an intimidating armed military official, was “requested” to rewrite the lyrics. And so, the tame “En mi pasado” was born. No more drunken Champagne-tinged skirmishes: the lovers part calmly and without sex, alcohol or violence.

Los Mareados was only heard in its original form again in 1949. A delegation of poets and musicians begged for a special hearing with the president of the nation, General Juan Domingo Perón. Perón was swayed by the passion of a group that included the greats Anibal Troilo and Francisco Canaro, and lifted the ban.

Los Mareados Lyrics (Cadicamo) in the original Spanish (and Lunfardo)

Rara.. como encendida te hallé bebiendo linda y fatal…
Bebías y en el fragor del champán, loca, reías por no llorar…
Pena Me dio encontrarte pues al mirarte yo vi brillar
tus ojos con un eléctrico ardor, tus bellos ojos que tanto adoré…

Esta noche, amiga mía, el alcohol nos ha embriagado…
¡Qué importa que se rían y nos llamen los mareados!
Cada cual tiene sus penas y nosotros las tenemos…
Esta noche beberemos porque ya no volveremos a vernos más…

Hoy vas a entrar en mi pasado, en el pasado de mi vida…
Tres cosas lleva mi alma herida: amor… pesar… dolor…
Hoy vas a entrar en mi pasado y hoy nuevas sendas tomaremos…
¡Qué grande ha sido nuestro amor!…
Y, sin embargo, ¡ay!, mirá lo que quedó…

Ave. de Mayofe - Buenos Aires c.1930

Los Mareados Lyrics (Cadicamo) in a very loose English Translation by Albert Combrink

How strange! As if you were on fire, I found you drinking – contagious and fatal.
You drank, and in the noise of the Champaign, you were crazy – laughing so that you did not cry.
It pained me to see you like that, your brilliant eyes shooting an electric bolt – your beautiful eyes that I adored.

Tonight, my friend, alcohol will be our friend. What matters is that we be inebriated, and we recall how intoxicated we used to be.
Everyone has sorrows, and we have ours.
Tonight we will drink, because we can no longer see  who we used to be.
Today you enter my past – part of the history of my life.

My soul takes three things with it: Love, a Scale, and Pain.
Today you enter my past. We will take new paths.
How great was our love.
And yet, despite everything, our love looks at what is used to be.

Download Free Sheet Music of “Los Mareados” in a piano arrangement by Tango Pianist and Arranger Rogelio Marra.