By Fresedo and Ray – 1937
The lively and controversial ‘Siempre es carnaval’ (It’s always carnival) is one of Fresedo’s most famous tangos. It’s also a strong condemnation which is as timely today as it was back then. An amazing song…
The story behind Siempre es carnaval
The lively Siempre es carnaval (It’s always carnival) is one of Osvaldo (and Emilio) Fresedo’s most reknown tangos. To understand its origin and its real depth, it’s necessary to look at Fresedo’s life itself…
Being born in Buenos Aires to a wealthy family definitely influenced Fresedo’s art: his orchestra, refined and aristocratic, was the favourite of upper circles. However, the neighbourhood he grew up in equally had a bearing on him – when he was ten, his family surprisingly decided to move to La Paternal, a humble suburban neighbourhood. There he started playing the bandoneon and became acquainted with tango.
During his career, the longest one in tango history (over 1,250 recordings over 63 years), Fresedo was known as El pibe de La Paternal, the kid from La Paternal.
Despite its cheerful music and its definite carnival-like atmosphere, Siempre es carnaval is a condemnation of modern consumerist society, which compares consumers to carnival goers, and the lies they use to dodge paying their bills to carnival masks. While it starts with a general take on society, the song also seems to target one individual in particular, as shown by the end verse: ‘how many pesos do you owe me?’.
This song has been translated by Tanguito, Argentine Tango Academy.
We hope you enjoy this translation. If you have any comments, don’t hesitate to drop either of us a line.
¡Cuántos viven disfrazados
sin saber que así quedaron!
¡Cuántos se oyen sin reír!
Este mundo es escenario
Y siempre es carnaval.
¡Qué tuviste una fortuna!
How many live in fancy dress,
without realising they’ll remain like that!
How many listen to themselves without laughing!
This world is the stage
of a big non-stop cinema
that makes us shop.
How much ends up being lies,
nothing is certain at all,
and guessing correctly is a gamble:
“the lady is not available”
or “she left a minute ago”;
and the husband pretends to be dead
if anyone comes asking him to pay the bills.
And it’s always carnival.
How fortunate you’ve been!