By Canaro, Battistella, Charlo, 1912
Pinta Brava. Fiery, sexy, arrogant, in your face. A volcano, an earthquake. A real latin girl who will haunt your nights and won’t be forgotten that easily. Hold your breadth…
The story behind Pinta Brava
Pinta Brava is a young girl with big dreams. She quits being a maid, leaves her family and moves to downtown Buenos Aires. There, she hopes to earn a better living and escape the poverty that she’s known since childhood. Once in Buenos Aires, she soon becomes a regular at milongas where she mingles with the poor, the thugs and the ‘Niños Bien’, the wealthy sons of society families. She hopes that in a milonga, she’ll meet people, get an opportunity to escape her fate and gain some independence. How she ends up marrying a wannabe thug, a good for nothing, nobody knows, but she sure lives to regret her choice.
Pinta Brava is most likely one of the first tangos composed by Francisco Canaro, violinist, leader and composer (Nov. 26, 1888 – Dec. 14, 1964). Canaro’s orchestra is one of the most prolific and famous orchestras in the history of tango. A legend.
Who knows, Pinta Brava might have existed or the song might have been inspired by several girls. One thing is certain though, it is based on real facts – it doesn’t say: a cop, but the cop, a dead end, but the dead end and a crazy guy but the crazy guy. What makes this tango fascinating is its use of ‘lunfardo’ words, the slang born in Buenos Aires, and of other colourful expressions. ‘Mas pelada que Alvear’ is a reference to Argentina’s president, Alvear who was mocked for his baldness. ‘Meter la mula’ is a humorous way to say ‘to play tricks’, and comes from certain merchants who, in an attempt to overcharge for their goods, cunningly placed the leg of their mule on the scale.
This song has been translated in collaboration by Tanguito, Argentine Tango Academy in London and María Cecilia Perna, Spanish teacher and milonguera in Buenos Aires.
We hope you enjoy this translation. If you have any comments, don’t hesitate to drop either of us a line.
Quién te juna, quién te embroca,
Pinta brava presumida,
pa’ largarte por Florida
como un Ford a patinar.
No manyás, che pelandruna,
Despitá, no seas chitrula,
Se te manya el expediente,
El dorima que te echaste,
No podés meter la mula,
Mucho viento en la sesera
Who’s watching you, who’s keeping
an eye on you,
Feisty Pinta Brava,
off the leash on Florida street,
parading the streets like a Ford.
Don’t you realise, you silly girl,
Get out of here, don’t be stupid,
People can see what you’re like
You’re full of yourself,
This husband you took,
You can’t pull a fast one,
You’ve got so little between your ears,