Horacio Belmaña

Los mareados - “Los mareados”

hronicling the tango piece “Los mareados” brings us the pleasure of reuniting in that same story an exquisite figure of popular music, Juan Carlos Cobián, and one of the greatest poets of the genre, Enrique Domingo Cadícamo. This association has allowed us from long since to enjoy this beautiful piece which represents a true challenge for orchestras and singers.

This musical and poetical synthesis is the result of the happy blending of personalities between a musician who introduced its melody to tango —Cobián— and a poet —Cadícamo— who always knew how to adapt himself to the times by learning from the high poetry that included the Greek and the American classics.

Juan Carlos Cobián, a fine exquisite pianist, was born in the city of Pigüé (province of Buenos Aires), from where his family moved to the city of Bahía Blanca. He lived on 310 Moreno Street with his parents, Manuel Cobián, a Spaniard, and Silvina Coria. This was “La casita de mis viejos”. Today on that corner there are two modern towers, but a visible coquette notice remembers that beautiful circumstance.

Enrique Cadícamo, the last of the greatest tango poets, was born in Luján, (province of Buenos Aires) in the estancia (cattle ranch) Los Marieles. He was the tenth child of a couple of immigrants, Angel Cadícamo and Hortensia Luzzi. His name stands among the most prolific writers in the field of poetry as well as, and this made him a figure always in vogue, multiple fields. Not only he knew how to write about the different aspects of life but also to handle lunfardo and high-flown poetry.

Los mareados” has as first forerunner “Los dopados”. The latter was composed by Juan Carlos Cobián as a musical contribution to a theater play with the same name. The lyrics were written by Raúl Doblas and Alberto Weisbach, authors as well of the theater play.

The opening took place on May 4, 1922 at the Teatro Porteño. It was recorded by Roberto Díaz accompanied on piano by Cobián himself and Agesilao Ferrazano on violín, on January 13, 1924 on the Victor disc 77.222, which today is a rare collector item. Fresedo also recorded it as an instrumental on Victor nº 73.552, on May 20, 1922. These lyrics were substantially different and to show it we just quote the following:

Pobre piba, entre dos copas
tus amores han logrado.
Triste hazaña de un dopado
que hoy festeja el cabaret.

Los dopados” was soon forgotten but two decades later, according to Cadícamo’s narration in his memoirs, one day Troilo enthusiastically turned up at his apartment, carrying an old recording by Fresedo thinking that it was only an instrumental, to ask him to write a lyric. Both ignored that this tango already had lyrics. Cadícamo at first was somewhat reluctant because Cobián was then in the United States, but taking for granted his close friendship with the musician he decided to write “Los mareados”, what meant not only a new lyric but also the change of the tango title and he hoped, as it finally turned out, that they would surprise Cobián with a hit.

Different to the original version in which the first musical section was meant as an introduction without words, Cadícamo’s lyrics fill the three different sections of Cobián’s composition in a blending so perfect that the symbiosis of “Nostalgias” of 1936 is repeated. Troilo chose the perfect arrangement and released a boom by premiering “Los mareados” with Francisco Fiorentino on vocals at the Tibidabo cabaret back in 1942 with the lines so well-known to us:

Como encendida,
te hallé bebiendo
linda y fatal.

The airplay did not last long. In 1943 the censorship imposed by the military government obliging to suppress the lunfardo idioms, as well as any allusion to drunkenness or expressions which arbitrarily were regarded as immoral or negative for the language. This ruling distorted the lyrics so such an extent that, in many cases, its rendering was a serious problem for the leader and even more for the vocalist. Cadícamo was forced then to write a new lyric with a new name: “En mi pasado”. Even though it keeps the third section, it completely modifies the first two that begin as follows:

Separémonos sin llanto
y esta escena no alarguemos...
Es preciso que cortemos más,
te quiero tanto y tanto...

This version was recorded at that time by the singer Andrés Falgás.

Enrique Cadícamo was not a man used to stand pressures. When he was summoned by an official of the Dirección de Cultura that made objections to the lyrics of “Los mareados”, the poet sat in front of a typewriter and wrote some stanzas that subjected to the consideration of the official. «Do you like it now?», he asked. «This is better», answered the censor, to what Cadícamo, tearing up what he had just written, answered to him: «But I tell you this is bullshit».

Los mareados” reappeared in its authentic form in 1949. That happened when poets and musicians, trying to alleviate this unbearable situation, asked a hearing to the then president of the nation, General Juan Domingo Perón. The hearing was held on March 25, 1949. Headed by Homero Manzi, the delegation was comprised of, among others, Francisco Canaro, Aníbal Troilo, José Razzano, Charlo, Enrique Cadícamo, Alberto Vaccarezza and Lito Bayardo.

Everything unfolded quickly and informally. Perón greeted them and addressing Vaccarezza he asked him: «How are you getting along, Don Alberto? Is it true that you were pinched on a bus?». The ban was lifted with the simple expression of the President. Nothing else was needed. Neither laws nor decrees. Since then “Los mareados” returned to Cadícamo's authentic version which now allows us enjoying the renditions of the most famous orchestras and singers.

The story of this tango is a funny one. On Juan Carlos Cobián's music were written three lyrics which resulted in three titles: “Los dopados”, “Los mareados” and “En mi pasado”, but what turns out most curious is the possible influence of a third character: the French poet Paul Geraldy, whose true name was Paul Le Fèvre.

This poet reached a great popularity when he released the book “Toi et Moi” (You and I) published in 1913. The book was inspired by a muse, the opera singer Germanine Lubin, Geraldy's source of inspiration. He, in his wild 28 years of age, seduced his mistress with poems. One of them, titled “Finale”, says the following: «Ainsi, dèjá, tu vas entrer dans mon passé» (So now, you are going to step into my past). The version translated into Spanish by E. Diez de Medina, preferred to ignore that line. The translation of the Uruguayan Edmundo Bianchi destroyed it, leaving it this way: «Así, tú en mi pasado vas a entrar». But a third translation was the right one: «Hoy vas a entrar en mi pasado».

The researcher Ricardo Ostuni discovers the influence of Geraldy's poem, which he considers an antecedent that directly influenced Cadícamo or that at least inspired in him that line. Ostuni completed the lines of the stanza to demonstrate his theory:

Vas a entrar desde ahora
por siempre en mi pasado.
Y hoy de nuevo su vida
cada cual ha tomado,
y qué grandes creímos
nuestros dos corazones,
Y mirá en lo que ahora
nuestra pasión quedó.

We have a doubt which can be expressed by the question poised by the talented writer from Salta, Carlos Hugo Burgstaller: Was it a secret homage from Cadícamo to Geraldy? Was it a coincidence that both poets had imagined the same poetic line? I think that the issue can be cleared out by simply saying, that this coincidence is due to the feedback existing among poets, who usually inspire and influence each other.

A doubt, besides unimportant, that stumbles in front of the existence of a tango placed among the most beautiful pieces of the genre and that as time goes by it is heard with more joy. It is the same delight that writing these lines provoke on us when we pay homage to two big names like Juan Carlos Cobián and Enrique Domingo Cadícamo and, especially, to the symbiosis they achieved.