Roberto Cossa

Julio Sosa’s betrayal

t was against “Cambalache”. Not only it was because of the great number of mistakes, but also because he meddled in one of the most emblematic lyrics of tango poetry. And furthermore he consecrated it as its most famous rendition.

Those who know something about our history know that Enrique Discépolo did not write tangos the way mushrooms grow, nor did he write them on a table napkin at a barroom after having had a couple of gin glasses.

He polished his lyrics with a poet’s chisel. And if there is something that obsesses a poet it is the word. And for a poet no word is equal to another one despite it looks alike.

I can picture the time when Discépolo had to choose the names when “bibles” and “boilers” were mixed, that is to say, opposing symbols of the mad world which was appearing back in the 30s. It’s quite probable that Discépolo had very carefully picked up the emblematic characters of his time (he must have written and crossed out names once and again) until he finally wrote: “Mixed with Stavisky go Don Bosco and La Mignon/ Don Chicho and Napoleon/ Carnera and San Martín”.

It’s evident, that the Varón del Tango mistook Stavisky (Alexandre, a high level Russian con man) for the musician Igor Stravinsky, also Russian. Persuaded of that, he replaced the supposed Stravinsky by Toscanini (Arturo), a name closer to the ears of his audience than the one of the composer of “The Rite of Spring”.

By the way, he removed Carnera (Primo Carnera, a world boxing champion in the 30s, of Italian origin) from the list and replaced him by Carrera (probably the Argentine billiards player who was nearly contemporary of Sosa’s).

But it does not stop there. Also with the unspeakable “se vamo a encontrar” (when the original said “nos vamo a encontrar”) Julio Sosa betrays the anarchist ideology of old Discepolín. In the last of the antinomies, the author places beside the “boilers” those who take advantage “of others” and not those who get money “from women”. That is to say, employers but not pimps.