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Balada para un loco (1969)

Ballad for a Lunatic
lyrics by Horacio Ferrer (1933-2014)
music by Ástor Piazzolla

(spoken)
The afternoons in Buenos Aires have a certain… ¿qué se yo? [1]—y’know? I’ve just left home, headed down Arenales. The streets, and me, the same as ever…when suddenly, from behind a tree, he appears.

A strange cross between one of the last homeless bums, and the first stowaway on a voyage to Venus: a half melon rind on his head, his shirt’s pinstripes painted on his skin, a leather sole nailed into each foot, and a “Taxi for Hire” flag held in each hand.

It seems that I’m the only one who sees him, because as he walks among all the people, the mannequins wink at him, the traffic lights flash three sky-blue lights at him, and the corner fruit stand’s oranges rain their blossoms down upon him.
And just like that, half dancing and half flying, he doffs his melon, he greets me, he presents me with a taxi flag, and says,

(sung)
“I already know that I’m loony, loony, loony…[2]
can’t you see, coming down Callao street, a rolling full moony?
And a band of astronauts and children
dance a waltz all around me…
Come! Dance! Fly!

“I know that I’m loony, loony, loony!
I watch Buenos Aires from a sparrow’s nest
and I saw you there, so sad—
Come! Fly! Feel!
This crazy crush I have on you…[3]

“Crazy! Crazy! Crazy!
When the sun sets on your porteña solitude,
up the shores of your bed sheets I will come,
carrying a poem and a trombone,
to keep your heart awake.

“Crazy! Crazy! Crazy!
Like a demented acrobat I will leap
into the abyss of your cleavage until I feel
that I’ve driven your heart crazy with freedom—
Just wait and see!”

(spoken)
And talking like this, the lunatic invites me into his imaginary sports car[4], and we’re going to run along the cornices with a swallow in the engine!
The madhouse cheers us on: 
“Long live the lunatics who invented Love!” And an angel, a soldier, and a little girl play us a sweet little dancing waltz.

All the beautiful people come out to wave at us…and the lunatic—my lunatic, ¿qué sé yo?—sets the bell towers ringing with his laughter, and finally, he looks at me, and quietly sings:

(sung)
“Love me like this, loony, loony, loony,
scale the heights of this lunatic’s tenderness inside of me,
put on this wig made of larks and fly!
Fly with me now! Come, fly, come!

“Love me like this, loony, loony, loony,
Open up to these loves, we’ll give it a try,
the magical complete insanity of coming back to life…
Come, fly, come! Trai-lai-lai-larara!”

He’s crazy, and I am crazy,
We’re both crazy, after all…crazy, crazy, crazy…
He’s crazy, and I’m crazy too!

Amelia Baltar with Astor Piazzolla

Roberto “El Polaco” Goyeneche with Astor Piazzolla

Notes:
The lyrics above are for Amelia Baltar’s version. Goyeneche recites the spoken parts from the perspective of the lunatic himself, but apart from this and a few minor tweaks, the lyrics are essentially the same.
1)”¿Qué sé yo?” (Lit., “What do I know?”)—A common porteño colloquialism, with a variety of uses. Here, its meaning in English is equivalent to the French je ne sais quoi. A few verses down, it is more of interjection of emphasis, akin to “Dammit!”
2) The word that I’ve translated as “loony” is “pianta’o” a Lunfardo word. Piantar means “to leave, abandon, dump (as in a lover).” The word refers to someone who has “taken leave” of his or her senses. Later, as in the title, Ferrer uses the standard Spanish “loco,” which I’ve translated as “crazy.”
3) The original is “berretín“, which refers to any capricious whim, though here it is rather clearly a romantic infatuation.
4) In the original, “mi ilusión super-sport.” The Chevy muscle car branded the 400 Super-Sport was popular in Argentina, with the 1968 model considered most desirable by auto enthusiasts.

(Spanish original after the jump)

Balada para un loco

(recitado)

Las tardecitas de Buenos Aires tienen ese..¿qué sé yo, ¿viste? Salgo de casa, por Arenales. Lo de siempre: en la calle y en mí. . . Cuando, de repente, de atrás de un árbol, se aparece él.
Mezcla rara de penúltimo linyera y de primer polizón en el viaje a Venus: medio melón en la cabeza, las rayas de la camisa pintadas en la piel, dos medias suelas clavadas en los pies, y una banderita de taxi libre levantada en cada mano.
Parece que sólo yo lo veo: porque él pasa entre la gente, y los maniquíes le guiñan; los semáforos le dan tres luces celestes, y las naranjas del frutero de la esquina le tiran azahares.
Y así, medio bailando y medio volando, se quita el melón, me saluda, me regala una banderita, y me dice…

(cantado)

“Ya sé que estoy piantao, piantao, piantao…
¿No ves que va la luna rodando por Callao?
Que un corso de astronautas y niños, con un vals,
me baila alrededor… ¡Bailá! ¡Vení! ¡Volá!

Ya sé que estoy piantao, piantao, piantao…
Yo miro a Buenos Aires del nido de un gorrión;
y a vos te vi tan triste… ¡Vení! ¡Volá! ¡Sentí!…
el loco berretín que tengo para vos:

¡Loco! ¡Loco! ¡Loco!
Cuando anochezca en tu porteña soledad,
por la ribera de tu sábana vendré
con un poema y un trombón
a desvelarte el corazón.

¡Loco! ¡Loco! ¡Loco!
Como un acróbata demente saltaré,
sobre el abismo de tu escote hasta sentir
que enloquecí tu corazón de libertad…
¡Ya vas a ver!”

(recitado)

Y, así diciendo, el loco me convida a andar en su ilusión super-sport, y vamos a correr por las cornisas ¡con una golondrina en el motor!

El manicomio aplauden: “¡Viva! ¡Viva! ¡Viva! ¡Los locos que inventaron el amor!” Y un ángel, un soldado, y una niña nos dan un valsecito bailador.

Nos sale a saludar la gente linda…
y el loco—loco mío, ¡qué sé yo!
provoca campanarios con la risa,
y al fin, me mira, y canta a media voz:

(cantado)

“Quereme así, piantao, piantao, piantao…
Trepate a esta ternura de locos que hay en mí…
ponete esta peluca de alondras, ¡y volá!
¡Volá conmigo ya! ¡Vení, volá, vení!

Quereme así, piantao, piantao, piantao…
Abrite los amores que vamos a intentar
la mágica locura total de revivir…
¡Vení, volá, vení! ¡Trai-lai-la-larará!”

(casi gritado)

¡Locos al fin los dos!
¡Locos! ¡Locos! ¡Locos!
¡Loco él y loca yo!

About Derrick Del Pilar

Born and raised in Chicago, I came to the tango while studying at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires in 2006. In 2008 I earned my B.A. with majors in Creative Writing and Spanish & Portuguese from the University of Arizona, and in 2009 I earned an M.A. in Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. My specialty is the history & literature of early 20th century Argentina.

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The sound files on this site are included for illustrative purposes only. Those wishing to obtain high quality versions for their personal collections should purchase commercially available copies. If you can't get to a record store in Buenos Aires, a great many tangos are available, song by song, from http://www.tangotunes.com/ and others can be found on iTunes (transfer quality varies widely). Many CDs are available through online retailers such as Michael Lavocah's superb http://milonga.co.uk/.

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