Ricardo Tanturi (Castillo), 1941
APocas palabras (“Few words”) is amongst the tango tunes that will stay in your head long after they are finished: a love story like those only found in tango. Listening to Pocas Palabras, you will feel all the melancholy of tango and its poets, but also a reminiscence of time lost…
The story behind Pocas palabras
Tango is a music style and a dance born at the turn of the 20th century when massive waves of immigrants from Europe and Argentina countryside left their birthplace to settle down in Buenos Aires. As they gradually came to grips with what the city really had in store for them – which was far less promising than their dreams of ‘hacerse la América’, of making it big in the Americas, most of them were engulfed by a longing for what they had left behind and would probably never see again – their home, their family, their loved ones.
Because tango, as an art form, emerged as a way for them to give vent to their anguish and express their loss, tango lyrics generally delve into what one has lost, not what one still has.
Love is a typical example – tango lyrics usually are about lost loves rather than happy ones. The topic of lost love also reflects a drastic change in the Argentine society of the time, as women began to gain more power and independence and were therefore freer to choose a partner.
Through tango songs, poets expressed the reaction of men, at a loss in terms of how to best negotiate this change, and lost love became the common expression of their helplessness. Some songs try and explain why the woman they loved left them, some focus on the consequences of them being abandoned, while others are vaguer and in a way more sentimental.
Pocas Palabras is one of these love songs; it is the story of a man who at last finds his old love, and while he harbours no hope, would like her to admit that their love is still alive. The poet gives no explanations about what happened to them or why she had left him, which makes the song even more melancholy.
“Pocas palabras” has been translated by Tanguito, Argentine Tango Academy in London. We hope you enjoy this translation. If you have any comments, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.
No pretendo remover las cenizas del ayer,
de ese ayer inolvidable.
Solo quiero hacerte ver,
que aunque no lo quieras ver,
hay amores imborrables.
Después de tanto vuelvo a hallarte
Pocas palabras, vieja amiga
Pocas palabras de lo de antes,
I am not trying to stir the ashes of yesterday,
of this unforgettable yesterday.
I just want you to see,
although you don’t want to see it,
that certain loves can’t be erased.
After so long, I find you again,
Few words, old friend.
Few words about what happened before