Music: Ricardo Tanturi. Lyrics: Enrique Cadícamo
Composed by Ricardo Tanturi with lyrics written by Enrique Cadicamo, A Otra Cosa, Che Pebeta is a song of rejection, with lyrics structured as a dialogue between the poet and his lost love.
Whether this dialogue with his previous lover is real or not, we can’t tell, for tango contains real dialogues as well as imaginary ones. In tango, dialogues can also be with an imaginary being, with someone real, with the public: there are dialogues with women, whether present or absent, with friends, with God, the neighbourhood, one’s mother, with the bandoneón and even with tango itself!
The dialogue of A otra cosa, che pebeta illustrates a theme which is central to tango songs: the story of a woman who leaves her life behind for a better one, usually following the promise of more money. Tango portrays many women who leave a place, be it their home, their neighbourhood, their work. In all cases, these travels end up badly: prostitution, madness, bad health and even death. These songs illustrate a shift in the Argentine society as women gain more independence and freedom, hence shaking the foundations of a very traditional and macho society.
Whether real or not, this dialogue is full of resentment, showing that the break up was unexpected and sudden. It is implied that the subject of the poet’s love has now found a better life, even if more futile, dishonest or venal – again a typical reaction in tango to women looking for more independence.
The title of the song is a pun on words. In Spanish, the expression A otra cosa, mariposa means “off to other things, butterfly”. The song is A Otra Cosa, Che Pebeta (off to other things, you chick), but still refers to the object of the poet’s affection as a butterfly, hence making a clear reference to this expression and tying in the song together.
A Otra Cosa, Che Pebeta has been translated by Tanguito, Argentine Tango Academy in London. If you feel have any comment or have other interpretations of the lyrics, please feel free to share your opinion, we’d love to hear what you think.
Cuando pases a mi lao,
no te hagás la que no ves;
si de sobra vos sabés
de que yo soy tu paso.
En la fábrica soñé
¡A otra cosa que yo
¿A quién vas a engañar?
When you walk past me,
don’t pretend you don’t see me,
because you know only too well
that I am your step.
In the factory, while I was dreaming
It’s time to flitter away from me,
Who are you going to cheat?