Francisco García Jiménez

Real name: García Jiménez, Francisco
Nicknames: Joe Francis
Poet and lyricist
(22 September 1899 - 5 March 1983)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Julio Nudler

s it happened with Homero Manzi or Enrique Santos Discépolo, Francisco García Jiménez, born in Buenos Aires, did a lot of things during his lifetime as well: he was journalist, playwright, movie script writer and historian, but he owes his prestige and perdurance to the tango lyrics he wrote. In 1920, when tango with lyrics was still in its early stages, he astonished us with “Zorro gris”, desired garment with which the cabaret girl wrapped up the coldness of her soul. In those remarkable verses the learned, precise and refined poet —who lavished on dozens of unforgettable tangos— is already present.

Always ahead of his contemporaries, in 1925 he revolutionized all was known with “Suerte loca”, of an elaborate style which evinced both his masterly handling of language and the clarity of his ideas, because he never allowed the difficulty of versifying to twist his purpose, in this case the making of a manifesto with deep skepticism, structured on metaphors referred to the card game. Mounted this unique lyric on the magnificent musical piece written by the bandoneonist Anselmo Aieta, the result is a tango of irresistible seduction.

The case of “Barrio pobre” is exceptional as well. Written on music composed by the singer and guitarist Vicente Belvedere, it reached a prolongued success after the 40s, especially through Carmen Duval's rendition with the accompaniment by Argentino Galván. The advanced conception of this work arouses disbelief on those who get to know it was written in 1926. It also seems unbelievable that Carlos Gardel had not sung it.

In 1928, Aieta and García Jiménez produced “Alma en pena”, a tango of rare perfection. On this the lyricist composes an authentically theatrical scene, with a forsaken lover who, at the bottom of his lover's balcony, picks up as a charity the promises of glory that she is now making to another one. With these verses, poetically and argumentally faultless, García Jiménez reached the summit of his art. Many more tangos he would write yet, some of them excellent, but he already was unable to surpass his earlier peaks. Before the age of 30, he had surrendered the best of himself.

According to José Gobello, García Jiménez was a good poet who spoiled his craft by composing lyrics for previous musics. Nearly all his lyrics reveal—he says— a laborious amount of words urged by the melody. This is painfully true in the stanzas of “La última cita”. However, our impression is that García Jiménez achieved what anyone else would have found impossible: to add to that beautiful but indocile piece by Agustín Bardi a lyric which does not sound forced but natural, and which would have had a life of its own regardless of the melody. For that reason several vocalists managed to sing it so skillfully.

García Jiménez only exceptionally resorted to lunfardo, being “Lunes”, of 1929, with its sharp social painting, and “Farolito de papel”, of 1930, with its superb metaphors, his most successful lyrics where he made most extensive use of it.

A learned and polished lyricist, he did not stand out, in general, by either his popular breath or his warmth. He preferred the flawless construction of his verses, the sublimated feelings and that distance which softens contours. This favored the beauty of his images, as it happens in the waltz “Palomita blanca” or in the tango “Rosicler”, so impregnated of poetic imagination. On other occasions, the poet gave way to the script writer, as it happens with “Carnaval” or with “Siga el corso”. At times romantic, as in “Tus besos fueron míos”; nostalgic, as in “Malvón”, or simply human, as in “Mamboretá”, García Jiménez belongs to that group of inspired creators to whom we owe that the tango lyric does not mar its music.

His work includes many other tangos of great value, among them these stand out “Bajo Belgrano”, “Entre sueños”, “Mariposita”, “Ya estamos iguales”, “Tiempo” and “Anteayer”.