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Un crímen (1942)

A Crime
lyrics and music by Luis Rubinstein

My drama, Your Honor, is this story [1]
that can begin at the end.
I know that with this grotesque notoriety
it’s not easy to seem sentimental.
I made her life so torturous,
and her soul put up with my madness—
my jealously turned into insanity
and in this living hell, I lost myself.

And I saw mist in her eyes
when my steely fingers
wove a necklace
around her pearly neck.
She rolled over, kissing my hands
and was barely able to scream—
her voice drowned without complaint
and so, quite tamely, her night ended.
I carry her anguish in my eyes
and I can’t get rid of it.

Your Honor, I want this story
of such a perverse and brutal crime
to leave not a single blemish on her memory—
let everyone know that she was good, and I did her wrong…

Orquesta Miguel Caló, singer Raúl Berón

Orquesta Ricardo Tanturi, singer Alberto Castillo

[1] The traditional form of address for a judge in U.S. English. The original song is addressed as a direct confession to a judge.


Un crimen

Mi drama, señor juez, es esta historia
que puede comenzar por el final.
Ya sé que en lo grotesco de mi gloria
no es fácil parecer sentimental.
La vida que le di fue una tortura
y su alma soportó mi frenesí,
mis celos terminaron en locura
y en medio de un infierno, me perdí.

Y vi neblina en sus ojos
cuando mis dedos de acero,
en su cuello de nácar
bordaron un collar.
Rodó besando mis manos
y apenas pudo gritar—
su voz se ahogó sin reproche
y así mansamente, tuvo fin su noche.
Tengo su angustia en mis ojos
y no la puedo arrancar.

Yo quiero, señor juez, con esta historia
de un crimen tan perverso y tan brutal—
que no haya ni una marca en su memoria—
que sepan que era buena y le hice mal…

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.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Un crímen (1942)

  1. What a beautiful tragic tango, so compelling …. can’t wait to dance it!
    I wonder which version you prefer to dance?

    Posted by Practica El Beso | 06.03.2015, 9:44 AM
    • Actually, despite its popularity at milongas (I’ve heard the Caló more version here in the States), I dislike dancing to this tango because of the particular gruesomeness of the lyrics—that is a personal choice, of course. Tragedy has a very long and beautiful history as part of human artistic expression, but I choose to engage with it in other ways, especially since at any given milonga in the states my partner would probably be unaware of the tragic nature of these lyrics, and I’d feel pedantic explaining in the middle of the tanda…
      However, I must say that though I generally don’t think that there is ever one “correct” way to dance to a given tango, I find it jarring when I see people dance to songs like this with athletic movements and big smiles on their faces, blissfully ignorant of the content of the lyrics…if there ever was a tango that demanded understated movements and somber respect, this is it.
      I decided to post this song yesterday of all days because it was the day of a demonstration in the Plaza de Mayo for ‪#‎NiUnaMenos‬, a movement combating a recent streak of highly publicized violence against women in Argentina. María Olivera, who is a dear friend of mine, posted this request for tango DJs in Buenos Aires yesterday: “How about for today we don’t play one single tango with lyrics that allude to violence against women? I think it would be a great way for us to support such an important social cause. Culture cannot turn a deaf ear to its own role in these issues. Today we shouldn’t dance happily to these kinds of lyrics.”
      Of course, neither María nor I think that we should “censor” any songs from tango DJs’ playlists—yesterday was just an occasion to show respect and solidarity. But of course in the English-speaking world, few suspect that such a happy-sounding song could have such dark content.

      Posted by Derrick Del Pilar | 06.04.2015, 8:25 AM
      • Totally agree with you when you say “I generally don’t think that there is ever one “correct” way to dance to a given tango”. If one travels into the “mood” of the orchestration and the lyrics echo that, we can express the sentiment in a free respectful manner.
        Your final comment “But of course in the English-speaking world, few suspect that such a happy-sounding song could have such dark content.”
        As an educator, I ask myself why we can’t shift the material in dance classes to put more value on the education of the music and interpretation of the mood?

        Posted by Practica El Beso | 06.04.2015, 10:35 AM
  2. Well, here we go again, with respect!, tango is tango!, for dance here in Argentina, most of people will concentrate in the steps more than in the lyrics!, other ways (the car won’t run silky). Of course, here everybody knows the lyrics, even what the Poet trying to express!, some with different meanings!. The opera singer Placido Domingo once said, The opera tells the story in 3 hours. The tango in 3 minutes!. And someone also said!, I never understood poetry until I listen tango lyrics!!. Remember Derrick?.

    Posted by miguel | 02.18.2016, 9:30 PM

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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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