Cambalache: the forbidden tango by Enrique Santos Discépolo that is still valid 90 years after its creation

Cambalache: the forbidden tango by Enrique Santos Discépolo that is still valid 90 years after its creation
Cambalache: the forbidden tango by Enrique Santos Discépolo that is still valid 90 years after its creation

The mythical “Cambalache”, by Enrique Santos Discépolo

Economic crisis, fraud, corruption, hopelessness…Enrique Santos Discépolo believe Swap in full Infamous Decade. This is what the journalist had baptized Jose Luis Torres to the Argentine period that extended from September 6, 1930, when the first civic-military coup d’état took place against the radical president Hipólito Yrigoyenuntil June 4, 1943, when another de facto government overthrew the conservative Ramon Castillo. And the pen of the distinguished composer was able to describe that era like no one else.

That the world was and will be a mess, I already know, in 506 and in 2000 as well. That there have always been jets, Machiavellians and frauds, happy and bitter, values ​​and dublé… But that the twentieth century is a display of insolent evil, there is no longer anyone who denies it. We live wallowing in a meringue and in the same mud we all grope each other“, begins by saying the lyrics of the tango written by request in 1934, with words from Creole lunfardo and suburban idioms.

The original idea was for the piece to be released with the premiere of the film The soul of bandoneon, which was going to hit theaters in February 1935. And, in fact, that’s what it had been commissioned for. However, the producer Luis Cesar Amadorifriend of Discepolíndecided to take her to Sofia Bozan so that he could sing it at the Maipo Theater within the framework of the magazine Emerald 400. So, despite the anger of Angel Mentastifounding partner of Argentina Sono Film, who did everything in his power to prevent it, tango was heard for the first time at the end of 1934 in the voice of The Black.

Discépolo with Osvaldo Fresedo, José Razzano, Francisco Canaro and Aníbal Troilo (General Archive of the Nation)

If it was a betrayal? “Today it turns out that it is the same to be right as to be a traitor, ignorant, wise, stupid, generous, a swindler. Everything is the same, nothing is better, a donkey is the same as a great teacher! There are no postponements or ladders, the immoral have made us equal… If one lives in imposture and another steals from his ambition, it doesn’t matter if he is a priest, mattress maker, king of clubs, cheeky or stowaway“, said the lyrics not without reason, which was later heard in the feature film directed by Mario Soffici under the interpretation of Ernesto Fama and together with the orchestra Francisco Lomuto.

In addition to giving some questionable maxims, the tango mentioned a series of characters who could well represent society in general: “But what a lack of respect, what an attack on reason! Anyone is a lord, anyone is a thief! Mix with Stavisky van Don Bosco and Mignon, Don Chicho and Napoleon, Carnera and San Martín. Just like in the disrespectful shop window, life has been mixed up. And wounded by a sword without a rivet you see the Bible crying against a heater.”. Who was she referring to?

Serge Alexander Stavisky He had been a famous swindler, born in Ukraine and nationalized French, who gained fame after defrauding the municipality of Bayonne of more than 200 million francs and who later died in 1934. Juan Melchor Bosco, meanwhile, was a man raised in the faith by his mother, in his native Italy, who created the Salesian congregation through which he dedicated himself to social work until his death, in 1888, and who was canonized in 1934. La Mignon, for its part, is an expression that refers to a woman who has an extramarital relationship, something very frowned upon for the time.

Carlos Gardel was one of those in charge of popularizing Cambalache

Don Chicho, the one who mixed with the French emperor Napoleon BonaparteIt was actually Juan Galiffia man born in Sicily who at that time was noted for his alleged links with the mafia and was known as the “Argentine Al Capone”, for which he had been deported in 1933. And Cousin Carnerawho was equated with the hero Jose de San Martinwas an Italian more than two meters tall who in 1933 became world heavyweight champion and after his retirement he dedicated himself to catching.

The very same Carlos Gardel He was responsible for popularizing this tango until his sudden death, which occurred on June 24, 1935, transforming it into a kind of anthem. However, starting in 1943, the military began a campaign to try to banish the Lunfardo language, as well as expressions that referred to drunkenness or that were considered immoral, which is why they decided to prohibit the radio broadcast of this work. And censorship continued until 1949 when, under the constitutional government of Juan Domingo Peronthe directors of Sadaic achieved an audience with the president to rescind this restriction.

“Twentieth century, bustle, problematic and feverish, he who does not cry does not suck and he who does not strive is a fool. Just give it a go, let’s go, we’ll meet there in the oven! Don’t think anymore, sit down, because no one cares if you were born honorable! He is the same as he who works night and day like an ox, as he who lives off others, as he who kills, or who heals, or who is outside the law.”, concludes the lyrics that 90 years later and now in the 21st century continue to maintain their validity.

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