Horacio Molina and the tango

Elegance, musical precision and an intimate voice devoid of shrillness are the things that define Horacio Molina’s manner of singing, A tanguero well immersed in the spirit of the tango but one who differs from the aggressive and excessively macho stereotype of the malevo.

The first song of his that I recall having heard is “Naranjo en flor” (Orange Tree in Blossom). It was frequently played on the radio by Alejandro Dolina on his program “La venganza será terrible” (Vengeance Will be Awful), a late late night show that continues to be on the air. There are voice timbres that enchant you. Horacio Molina’s is one of these.

Eugenio Daneri: Estrella federal

Naranjo en Flor (1944 - tango). Music: Virgilio Expósito. Lyrics: Homero Expósito. Album: Ecos

Era más blanda que el agua,
que el agua blanda,
era más fresca que el río,
naranjo en flor.
Y en esa calle de estío,
calle perdida,
dejó un pedazo de vida
y se marchó…

Primero hay que saber sufrir,
después amar, después partir
y al fin andar sin pensamiento…
Perfume de naranjo en flor,
promesas vanas de un amor
que se escaparon en el viento.

Después… ¿qué importa del después?
Toda mi vida es el ayer
que me detiene en el pasado,
eterna y vieja juventud
que me ha dejado acobardado
como un pájaro sin luz.

¿Qué le habrán hecho mis manos?
¿Qué le habrán hecho
para dejarme en el pecho tanto dolor?
Dolor de vieja arboleda,
canción de esquina
con un pedazo de vida,
naranjo en flor.

She was softer than water,
than the softest of waters.
She was fresher than the river,
orange tree in blossom.
And in that summer street,
in that lost street
she left a piece of her life
and went away…

First you must know how to suffer
then how to love, and then to leave
and in the end wander without thoughts…
Perfume of an orange tree in blossom,
vain promises of love
that ran off with the wind.

Then… what matters then?
All my life is yesterday
that detains me in the past,
eternal and old youth
that has made me a coward,
like a bird without light.

What did my hands do to her?
What could they have done
to leave so much pain in my breast?
Pain like that of an old woods,
song of a street corner
with a piece of life,
orange tree in blossom.

Bar in the Plaza Dorrego. Photos of Wang Wei

Molina is a confessed and enthusiastic admirer of Carlos Gardel. And like him, not only has a unique voice but also a particular manner of interpreting each song, a way of making vivid before our eyes each verse that he sings. And, of course, the pursuit of the tango-song or ballad which was given such an impetus by Gardel and which is recovered by Molina in our days as no one else does. This is what he speaks of in these two videos which embrace a large part of our musical history and where he expresses his artistic postulations on how he considers that the tango should be interpreted.

Horacio Molina’s biographies usually describe a family lineage that is evident to any porteño who hears his manner of speaking. (This 2007 interview scans with the minuteness of a connoisseur this characteristic of a social and economic class and of a cultural upbringing so peculiar to many of our families). And as to his musical formation, his transit through bossa nova and jazz should not be overlooked. These musical genres influence the way in which Molina interprets the tango, while not making him betray its essence.

Garúa (Drizzle, 1926 - tango). Lyrics: Enrique Cadicamo. Music: Aníbal Troilo. Album: Horacio Molina a pedido (2005)

Qué noche llena de hastío y de frío!
El viento trae un extraño lamento
Parece un pozo de sombras, la noche;
y yo en las sombras camino muy lento.

Mientras tanto la garúa
se acentúa con sus púas
en mi corazón…
En esta noche tan fría y tan mía
pensando siempre en lo mismo
me abismo;
y por más que quiera odiarla
desecharla y olvidarla,
la recuerdo más…

Solo y triste por la acera
va este corazón transido
con tristeza de tapera…
Sintiendo tu hielo
porque aquella con su olvido
hoy le ha abierto una gotera…

como un duende que en la sombra
más la busca y más la nombra
¡Si hasta el cielo se ha puesto a llorar!

Qué noche tan llena de frío y hastío.
No se ve a nadie cruzar por la esquina.
Sobre la calle, la hilera de focos
lustra el asfalto con luz mortecina.
Y yo voy como un descarte,
siempre solo,
siempre aparte,

Las gotas caen en el charco de mi alma;
sobre los huesos, calado y helado.
Y humillando este tormento
todavía pasa el viento empujándome…

How full of tedium and cold is the night!
The wind brings a strange complaint.
It seems to be a pit of shadows, the night,
and I, amidst the shadows, walk very slowly.

Meanwhile the drizzle
sharpens its darts
in my heart…
In this night so cold and so mine,
obsessed by one thought
I plunge into the abyss;
and as much as I want to hate her,
cast her aside and forget her,
I remember her all the more.

Alone and sad along the sidewalk
goes a heart overcome
with sadness like a hovel…
Feeling your frost
because she, with her disdain
has today made its roof leak.

like a sprite who, among shadows
seeks her and names her ever more
Even the sky has begun to cry!

What a night so full of coldness and tedium.
No one is seen crossing the corner.
Over the street, the line of lanterns
shine on the pavement with a webbing light,
And on I go like a castaway,
always alone,
always apart,
remembering you…

Drops fall on the muddy pool of my soul,
on my bones, drenched and frozen.
And humiliating me in my torment,
the wind shoves against me…

It’s funny to realize that the image of Buenos Aires portrayed in the lyrics of tangos is usually that of a rainy city in perpetual winter. As if there were no sun and as if the blossoming trees that carpet the streets with diminutive colours did not exist. The Buenos Aires of tangos appears to rarely have summers.

Thus it is in Cadicamo’s exquisite poetry in “Niebla del Riachuelo” (Fog over the Riachuelo) that Molina sings here in a show of intimate colour, only accompanied by a guitar. In this tango, the piers on the Riachuelo, at the legendary maritime scenery of La Boca are a symbol of melancholy. Anguish and disquiet seem to me especially well expressed in these verses that say: “nunca más su voz / nombró mi nombre junto a mí…” (“never more did her voice name my name by my side”). Here the double condition of the voice, that is intangible but at the same time embodied, joined with one’s own name which may be uttered by that voice but no longer perceived by one’s own ears, is a palpable sign of physical estrangement.

From the show Horacio Molina a pedido - 2005

Niebla del Riachuelo (1937 - tango). Music: Juan Carlos Cobian. Lyrics: Enrique Cadícamo

Turbio fondeadero donde van a recalar,
barcos que en el muelle
para siempre han de quedar…

Sombras que se alargan
en la noche del dolor;
náufragos del mundo
que han perdido el corazón…

Puentes y cordajes
donde el viento viene a aullar,
barcos carboneros
que jamás han de zarpar…

Torvo cementerio de las naves
que al morir,
sueñan sin embargo
que hacia el mar han de partir…

¡Niebla del Riachuelo!
Amarrado al recuerdo
yo sigo esperando…
¡Niebla del Riachuelo!
De ese amor, para siempre,
me vas alejando…

Nunca más volvió,
nunca más la vi,
nunca más su voz
nombró mi nombre junto a mí…
esa misma voz que dijo: "¡Adiós!".

Sueña, marinero,
con tu viejo bergantín,
bebe tus nostalgias
en el sordo cafetín…

Llueve sobre el puerto
mientras tanto mi canción
llueve lentamente
sobre tu desolación…

Anclas que ya nunca,
nunca más, han de levar,
bordas de lanchones
sin amarras que soltar…

Triste caravana
sin destino ni ilusión,
como un barco preso
en la “botella del figón”…

Murky harbour where ships
that will forever
remain docked end up.

Shadows that lengthen
in nights of sorrow
shipwrecked people of the world
who have lost their hearts…

Decks and riggings
through which the wind howls,
coal ships
which will never set sail…

Gloomy cemetery of ships
which, although dying,
dream nonetheless
of sailing towards the sea…

Fog of the Riachuelo!
Moored to memory
I keep on waiting…
Fog of the Riachuelo!
You’re taking me away
from that love forever…

She never returned
I never more saw her,
Never again her voice
named my name beside me…
that same voice which said “goodbye!”

Dream, sailor,
of your old brig
drink your nostalgia
in the sordid café…

It rains over the port
while my song
rains slowly
over your desolation…

Anchors that never,
never more will aweigh,
decks of barges
with no moorings to let loose…

Sorrowful caravan
without destination or hope,
imprisoned like
the ship in a bottle in the café…

Fortunato Lacámera: Ship with flag, 1940

Lamentation for things which one no longer has, for things which are lost and will not return, is a characteristic of the elegiac tone of the tango. It may be for love which is running away from us, but it also may be for childhood or youth, or for a neighbourhood that has changed and no longer is what it once was. Just like in this waltz that describes my own neighborhood as I never got to know it.

Caserón de tejas (Big house with tiled roof, 1941 - waltz). Music: Sebastián Piana. Lyrics: Cátulo Castillo. Album: Horacio Molina a pedido (2005)

Barrio de Belgrano,
caserón de tejas,
¿te acordás, hermana,
de las tibias noches sobre la vereda…?
Cuando un tren cercano
nos dejaba viejas
raras añoranzas
bajo la templanza suave del rosal…

Todo fue tan simple,
claro como el cielo,
bueno como el cuento
que en las dulces siestas
nos contó el abuelo,
cuando en el pianito
de la sala oscura
sangraba la pura ternura de un vals…

Revivió, revivió
en las voces dormidas del piano
y al conjuro sutil de tu mano
el faldón del abuelo vendrá…
Llámalo, llámalo,
viviremos el cuento lejano
que en aquel caserón de Belgrano,
venciendo al arcano,
nos llama mamá.

Barrio de Belgrano,
caserón de tejas,
¿dónde está el aljibe,
dónde están tus patios,
dónde están tus rejas…?
Volverás al piano,
mi hermanita vieja,
y en las melodías
vivirán los días
claros del hogar…

Tu sonrisa, hermano,
cobijó mi duelo
y como en el cuento
que en las dulces siestas
nos contó el abuelo,
tornará el pianito
de la sala oscura
o sangrar la pura
ternura del vals…

Neighbourhood of Belgrano,
tile-roofed big house,
do you remember, sister,
the warm nights on the sidewalk…?
When a nearby train
left us with an old
and strange nostalgia
under the soft warmness of the roses…

Everything was so simple,
as clear as the sky
good like the story
that in the sweet naptimes
our grandfather told us
while from the little piano
in the shaded parlor
the pure tenderness of a waltz flowed.

It has lived again, it has lived again
in the sounds sleeping in the piano
and by the subtle enchantment of your hand
grandfather’s coat-tail will appear.
Call him, call him,
we shall live the charm of that far away story
and in that big house of Belgrano,
conquering the arcane,
Mother calls us.

Neighbourhood of Belgrano,
tile-roofed big house,
where is the well
where are your courtyards
where are your grates?
You will go back to the piano
my old little sister
and in those melodies
the bright days
of our home will live….

Your smile, brother
shelters my mourning,
and just like the story
that in the sweet naptimes
our grandfather told us,
the little piano in the shaded
parlor will come back
to let the pure
tenderness of a waltz flow.

However, if melancholy is a porteño’s registered trademark, irony is not far behind it. This other tango, suggested by my father, can be read in this crossing between the feeling of sorrow and the laughing grimace of he who laughs at his own misfortunes. For what else can we find in the pleading voice of the woman: “Ay, mi amor, si vos pudieras…” (Oh my life, if only you could…) and the pun at the end: “el tapado lo estoy pagando / y tu amor ya se apagó” (I am still paying for the cloak / and your love is already extinguished).

Aquel tapado de armiño (That ermine wrap, 1929 - tango). Música: Enrique Delfino. Letra: Manuel Romero. Album: Ecos

Aquel tapado de armiño,
todo forrado en lamé,
que tu cuerpito abrigaba
al salir del cabaret.
Cuando pasaste a mi lado,
prendida a aquel gigoló,
aquel tapado de armiño
¡cuánta pena me causó!

¿Te acordás?, era el momento
culminante del cariño;
me encontraba yo sin vento,
vos amabas el armiño.
Cuántas veces tiritando,
los dos junto a la vidriera,
me decías suspirando:
¡Ay, amor, si vos pudieras!
Y yo con mil sacrificios
te lo pude al fin comprar,
mangué a amigos vi usureros
y estuve un mes sin fumar.

Aquel tapado de armiño
todo forrado en lamé,
que tu cuerpito abrigaba
al salir del cabaret.
Me resultó, al fin y al cabo,
más durable que tu amor:
el tapado lo estoy pagando
y tu amor ya se apagó
That ermine wrap
all lined with lamé
that warmed your little body
as you left the cabaret.
Brushing by me
Clinging to that gigolo
that ermine wrap,
the troubles it brought to me!

Remember? It was
at the height of our love;
I was broke, while
you adored ermine.
How many times, shivering together
in front of the store window
you sighed: Oh darling,
If only you could!
And I, with a thousand sacrifices
at long last was able to buy it for you:
I borrowed from friends and moneylenders
and didn’t smoke for a month

That ermine wrap
all lined with lamé
that warmed your little body,
as you left the cabaret
was, in the long run,
more lasting than your love:
I’m still paying for the cloak
and your love has already died.

Benito Quinquela Martín

6 comentarios:

A.J.P. Megkoronáz dijo...

Happy Christmas, Studiolum. I'm going to practise tangoing so I'm ready for New Year's Eve.

Studiolum dijo...

Thanks a lot, and happy Christmas to you, too. But as to Argentine tango, here all credits are due to Julia as a dance master.

Julia dijo...

"dance master"

But thanks, Tamás, and happy Christmas for you both!

Megkoronáz A.J.P. dijo...

¡Julia! Of course; I'm so sorry. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. ¡Feliz año nuevo!

Julia dijo...

Thank you, AJP, I hope you have enjoyed our (not so merry) tangos for your merry Christmas...!
¡Feliz año nuevo para toda tu familia!

Studiolum dijo...

On the Киевский Танго-Форум / Tango in Kiev forum Tanguera Балбеска has just translated from here the text of Caserón de tejas to Russian, with a warm recommendation of this post. Thank you, большое спасибо за перевод и за хорошие слова.