Reinaldo Spitaletta

“Flores del alma” or a farewell waltz

t was like a farewell. When I listened to it —precisely, the music came from well-lit jukeboxes— in neighborhood cafés, I got a lump in my throat and I did not know why. In the lyrics of the waltz “Flores del alma” there is a mixture of memory and oblivion, of joy and disgrace, which was painful, but, also, made us happy because it was not a tragedy. It was (and it is) a revelation, with ingredients of promise and comfort.

The customary recording, the one which was played frequently, was the rendition by Carlos Dante and Julio Martel, with the anodyne and popular orchestra led by Alfredo De Angelis, and I don’t know if there was another rendering for playing at barrooms. It’s likely, but I don’t remember it. It began with some lines which, at that time seemed to me, were full of glory: «Recuerdos de una noche venturosa que vuelven en mi alma a florecer» (Memories of a blissful evening which blossom again in my soul). They produced images, maybe the ones of girls on balconies, or perhaps behind windows, waiting for their lover —Love— to appear round the corner.

«Recuerdos que se fueron con el tiempo, presiento que reviven otra vez» (I foresee that memories, that had disappeared with the passing of time, come back again), and in the following lines there was a sort of struggle between today and yesterday, what has departed and what has returned, what it is now and what does not exist anymore. Of course, we used to listen to it as an entire thing, without paying much attention to each line, but as a whole, or sometimes, all was blurred into confusion, in a faded episode, in which there were love affairs and disillusionments.

In the second stanza, our attention was attracted by the sounds recalling night, loneliness and the moon, and later came oblivion and those words —like an existential proof— such as «you know I love you and I’ll always do», to provide certainty, as if the passing of time would not alter anything and everything would come true as we say and wish in the present, or it is imagined or foreseen. «I did not love anyone like I loved you», which sounds good, if we observe with close attention, is commonplace among lovers or among those who were in that situation. And time later, (will there be any time later?) we come to know that all has been an illusion.

The waltz, with words by Alfredo Lucero Palacios and Lito Bayardo, and music by Juan Larenza, ends with a departure and the «bitterness of a goodbye» which reaches a final conclusion, categorical and doubtful at the same time, with «maybe after the years you will forget me, but I’ll never do! ». Many years passed by, I don’t know how many, without listening to the sweet and sad little waltz, until I saw the movie Tango, by Carlos Saura, in which Viviana Vigil and Héctor Pilatti sing it. Then some sparkles of memories from my teen years came to mind, when in barrooms frequented by workmen and down-and-out fellows, from time to time it was played by the slot machines.

It was not, I must confess, a waltz very dear to me, like, for example, “Bajo un cielo de estrellas”, “Pedacito de cielo” or “Romance de barrio”. I kept it in who knows what unknown territory until I heard an electrifying rendition, very old and beautiful, by the Pedro Laurenz orchestra, with Martín Podestá on vocals. The vocalist was allowed to sing only the first two stanzas, because the rest was played by the orchestra in a wonderful way, with delicate, striking phrasings, with a sentimental approach by the instrumentalists, and then my soul was touched by memories and reveries.

A song like this, perhaps elementary and because of that, heartfelt, hosts times and geographies gone by, pieces of memory, the brevity of being… lost illusions. It is made for farewells, to say goodbye to people and things that we will never see again, some of them may be part of oblivion, which very few flowers has.