By Fresedo and Ray – 1937

Argentine tango London | Siempre es Carnaval spacer_small

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.

Nathalie, Tanguito

The music

The lyrics

¡Cuántos viven disfrazados
sin saber que así quedaron!
¡Cuántos se oyen sin reír!

Este mundo es escenario
de un gran cine continuado
que nos hace consumir.
Cuánto, al fin, se macanea,
ya que nunca es todo cierto,
y es un juego el acertar:
“La señora está indispuesta”
o “ha salido hace un momento”;
y el esposo se hace el muerto

si es que vienen a cobrar.

Y siempre es carnaval.
Van cayendo serpentinas,
unas gruesas y otras finas
que nos hacen tambalear.
Y cuando en tu disfraz
la careta queda ausente
en tu cara de inocente,
todo el año es carnaval.
¡Y viva el carnaval!
Vos ves siempre lucecitas.
Sos la eterna mascarita
que gozás con engañar.
Y cuando en tu disfraz
la careta queda ausente
en tu cara de inocente,
todo el año es carnaval.

¡Qué tuviste una fortuna!
¡Qué de oro fue tu cuna!
Que esto cuesta: ¡Qué se yo!
Las mujeres y los hombres
por tu amor tocan la luna
y otras cosas más por vos…
¡Y si hablás de tu familia!…
tu pretérito imperfecto
lo pasaste como un rey.
Yo quisiera que me digas,
y dejando un poco de esto,
si la cuenta vos has hecho
¿cuántos pesos me debés?

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.
Streamers fall,
some thick, some thin,
they make us wobble.
And when in fancy dress,
you wear no mask
on your innocent face,
all year round it’s carnival.
Long live the carnival!
You always see glimmers.
You wear an eternal mask
and you find pleasure in being deceitful.
And when in fancy dress
you wear no mask
on your innocent face,
all year round it’s carnival.

How fortunate you’ve been!
With your cradle made of gold!
What does it cost… How would I know!
Women and men
reach out to the moon out of love for you
and do so many other things, all for you…
And if you talk about your family…,
you use the past tense
like a king!
I’d like you to tell me,
and I’ll take a little bit off,
if you’ve done the maths:
how many pesos do you owe me?