“El Choclo” (“The Corn Cob”), written by lyricist, composer and musician Ángel Villoldo, is one of these tangos that made history. Actually, you’ve probably danced on El Choclo, more often than you think!
Listen to El Choclo by the Orquesta Tipica Victor
A sneaky debut
On November 3, 1905, pianist Jose Luis Roncallo and his classical orchestra gathered as usual to perform for the upper class clientele of the Restaurante Americano in Buenos Aires.
A few days earlier, Angel Villoldo had shown Roncallo the melody of a Tango – it was by far the best Villoldo had written but Roncallo fretted at the idea of playing a tango for the “creme-de-la creme” of Buenos Aires society, at a time when tango was still only heard and danced in poor neighborhoods.
Yet, the tune was so compelling that Roncallo decided to sneak it as a “danza criolla”, a Creole dance. And that’s how the song was premiered on November 3, 1905 in the exclusive Restaurante Americano.
El Choclo sheet music
Why the name “El Choclo”?
There is some controversy about the meaning of the song title. According to Villoldo’s sister, “El choclo was a tough guy, a nightclub owner and a pimp based in the surroundings of Junín and Lavalle streets. He was called by that name because of the color of his hair.”
Another theory is that Villoldo named the song the corn cob, because “I loved it from the very first note, and for me the ear of corn is the tastiest ingredient of the ‘puchero’, a meat and vegetables stew …” The “puchero” reference might have reflected Villoldo’s hope that the Tango would bring food to his table. To earn a living is commonly referred to as earning the “puchero” in lunfardo, Buenos Aires song.
After its successful debut in 1903, in 1905 El Choclo became the first ever tango to be recorded. To this day, it probably still is one of the most popular tangos in Argentina.
See you tomorrow for our next Tango Advent Calendar window!
Nati & Bruno
Source and more information about el Choclo: