Enrique Cadícamo

Real name: Cadícamo, Domingo Enrique
Nicknames: Rosendo Luna y Yino Luzzi
Poet, lyricist, composer, writer and theatral writer
(15 July 1900 - 3 December 1999)
Place of birth:
General Rodríguez (Buenos Aires) Argentina
José Gobello

e was born in General Rodríguez, province of Buenos Aires. His first book of poems, Canciones Grises, dates back to 1926. Although with Alighieri’s advocation and imbued with certain Verlaine-like melancholy it is not free from tango qualifications: «El Pigall ha quedado desierto y bostezando, / enmudeció la orquesta sus salmos compadrones, / las rameras cansadas se retiran pensando / en sus lechos helados como sus corazones» (The Pigalle has been left deserted and yawning. The orchestra muted its challenging psalms, the tired whores leave thinking of their beds cold as their hearts). Two other poem books, with a very different approach but with an identical literary preoccupation, would follow this one: La Luna delBbajo Fondo (1940) and Viento que Lleva y Trae (1945). Furthermore Cadícamo has published a novel, Café de Camareras (1969), and a book of memoirs, El Desconocido Juan Carlos Cobián (1972).

«An everlasting boy —wrote León Benarós—, Cadícamo seems to live counter clockwise. He keeps his hair intact, of a pale blond color, that becomes square at the back of his neck and rather long in a juvenile fashion... He wears light-colored ties —once we saw him with one of a subtle yellow color— and his sports coats add him youth. He wants to forget about time because he knows that time —“that dark enemy that sucks our blood”, according to Baudelaire’s lines—, feeds on our illusions, on our life...» (Enrique Cadícamo, in Tanguera, nº 29, with no date).

The first Cadícamo’s tango was “Pompas de jabón” with music by Roberto Goyheneche. About it the specialist Jorge Favetto says: «Recorded by Gardel in Spain on December 27, 1925 with the sole accompaniment of the guitarist José Ricardo in the electric system because in that country that system was known months before it was used in Buenos Aires. It was the poet Enrique Cadícamo’s first tango that Gardel recorded and the beginning of his notable creations. Furthermore Enrique Cadícamo was the author of the last tango that Gardel recorded in Argentina before his last tour: the tango “Madame Ivonne”, recorded on November 6, 1933. Later on November 7, onboard the Conte Biancamano, he went to France and from there to New York. He arrived in the latter on December 22, 1933».

After this an uncountable number of tangos of different levels followed —at least 20 of them recorded by Gardel—. Even though their quality was not even, they were not completely anodyne or with bad taste. In the Cadícamo’s tango oeuvre we shall find pieces quite well constructed like “Che papusa, oí” and “Anclao en París” and others clearly weak like “Tu promesa” and “Al subir, al bajar”. However all his output is distinguished by a notable literary decorum. Some examples follow:

Compadrón” is a lyric written for a previous music by the pianist Luis Visca and was spread by Sofía Bozán who by that time was performing for a season in Rosario. “Che papusa, oí” dates back to 1927. Víctor Soliño recalls: «The first Alberto Vila’s record could not be a failure. However the possibilities of a boom diminished when Alberto said that, as homage to the ones responsible for this venture, his first disc had to be Athenian (he referred to the Troupe Ateniense of Montevideo). And he chose “Niño bien”.

«We were not convinced that “Niño bien” had the value or the drive that meant a significant contribution to the smash hit they aimed for. We thought it was necessary to strengthen it. Matos Rodríguez —another trouper of the early years— was definitively based in Buenos Aires. He was Athenian and was, also, the composer of “La cumparsita”. Wow! So we turned to him for help. “Che papusa, oí”, with lyric by Cadícamo was the lifejacket that fortunately fell among the waves that swayed our inquietudes and our fears.» (Mis Tangos y los Atenienses, Montevideo, 1967, pages 30 and 31).

The lyrics of “Anclao en París” was written by Cadícamo in Barcelona in 1931. He sent it to Carlos Gardel who by then was in Nice (in whose Casino he had made his debut on January 15 that year). Guillermo Barbieri, one of the guitarists of the singer, composed its music and Gardel recorded it soon later.

Tres esquinas” alludes to the crossing of Montes de Oca and Osvaldo Cruz Streets in the neighborhood of Barracas, and to the café called Tres Esquinas, later Cabo Fels, located in that place. The lyric was written by Cadícamo in 1940 for a previous music composed by Ángel D’Agostino (that of the unpublished tango entitled “Pobre piba”). It was premiered that year by Ángel Vargas who sang with the D’Agostino Orchestra.

Other interesting tangos are: “Muñeca brava”, with reminiscences of some Celedonio Flores’s tangos, written to a music by Luis Visca that had won the 6th prize for tangos without lyrics of the 5th contest organized by Max Glücksmann in 1928; “Cruz de palo”, recorded by Gardel on March 1, 1929; “De todo te olvidas” that quotes some famous quatrains by Evaristo Carriego —the ones entitled Tu Secreto that are part of the Ofertorios Galantes of the Misas Herejes— and was awarded the 1st prize for tangos with lyrics in the 6th Max Glücksmann contest held at the Palace Theatre in 1929; “Niebla del Riachuelo” sung by Tita Merello in the movie La Fuga directed by Luis Saslavsky and premiered at the Monumental cinema theater on July 28, 1937. “Pa’ que bailen los muchachos”, the monumental “Los mareados”, with music of the tango “Los dopados” composed by Juan Carlos Cobián, and “Garúa” were recorded by Aníbal Troilo with Francisco Fiorentino on vocals.

And in like manner we may go on commenting successful titles until getting exhausted with that purpose. Undoubtedly, Enrique Cadícamo was one of the most prolific authors of our popular music.