Adios, arrabal: Return of a repentant rascal

Adios_arrabalAdiós, arrabal (1930)
Music: Juan Bauer
Lyrics: Carlos Lenzi
Recorded by Angel D’Agostino, sung by Angel Vargas

Mañanita arrabalera
sin taitas por las veredas
ni pibas en el balcón.
Tus faroles apagados
y los guapos retobados
en tu viejo callejón.

Daybreak in the arrabal,*
not a wiseguy* on the sidewalks,
not a girl on the balconies.
Your street lamps are snuffed out, 
and so are the obstinate guapos
along your old alleyways.

Yo te canto envenenao
engrupido y amargao
hoy me separo de vos.
Adiós arrabal porteño
yo fui tu esclavo y tu dueño
y te doy mi último adiós.

I sing to you, stricken,
embittered and disillusioned,
for today I’m leaving you forever.
Goodbye, arrabal porteño,*
I was both your slave and your master,
but this is our last goodbye.

Madrecita, yo fui un reo
y en tus brazos hoy me veo
lleno de felicidad.
Dime mi buena viejita
dónde está mi noviecita
que no la puedo olvidar.

Dear mother, I’ve been a cad, 
and in your arms today I find myself full of happiness.
Tell me, dear old girl,
Where’s that little sweetie of mine
Who I can’t forget?

Hoy ya vuelvo arrepentido
hecho más hombre y más bueno
a la vida del hogar.
Perdóname, que tu hijo
tiene un pensamiento fijo
y nadie lo hará cambiar.

Today I come home to my family,
Repentant, a better man and a better person.
But you must forgive me, for your son
harbors an indelible memory
that nobody will ever change.

El baile Rodríguez Peña
el Mocho y el Cachafaz
de la milonga porteña
que nunca más volverá…
Carnavales de mi vida
noches bravas y al final
los espiantes de las pibas
en aquel viejo arrabal.

The dances at Rodriguez Peña,*
El Mocho and Cachafaz*
The milonga porteña*
That I’ll never see again…
The time of my life at Carnaval,
Wild nights and in the end,
The girls giving us the slip,* 
In the old arrabal.

*arrabal: Impoverished districts at the Buenos Aires city limits populated by immigrants living under harsh conditions. Heartland of tango.

*wiseguy: taita. Alternate meanings are bully, tough guy, punk, pimp. 

*streetlamps…guaposTus faroles apagados y los guapos retobados en tu viejo callejón. This is an interesting poetic construction. Literally it means, "Your streetlights are snuffed out/extinguished/quiet, and (so are) the wild/obstinate/rebellious/saucy guapos of your old alleyways." The guapo was at one time an important, highly respected figure of the arrabal, a popularly acknowledged knifefighter, peacemaker, election fixer, and dandy living according to a strict code of honor. During the era referred to by the song (i.e., the late teens and early nineteen-twenties, the era of El Cachafáz and Rodriguez Peña) the original guapos (those that still survived) would have been old men with little or no day-to-day influence. The guapo had assumed a more mythical than practical status, and a man who styled himself a guapo or who was referred to as such was something else entirely. The word apagado, then, conveys multiple meanings: the streetlamp have been snuffed out because day is breaking, while the guapos are either quiet, because it's early morning, or extinct, because times have changed. (See Tango Decoder's version of "De puro guapo (1927)" for more on this theme.)

*porteño: Lit. “Of the port,” meaning native to Buenos Aires.

*dances at Rodriguez Peña: Probably refers to the legendary dancehall “San Martín” on Rodriguez Peña Street.

*El Mocho and Cachafaz: Two great forebears of modern tango dance.

*espiante: Escape or slipping out of one’s grasp. (Lunf.)

2 thoughts on “Adios, arrabal: Return of a repentant rascal

  1. Lucia Figueroa

    I love you have chosen the Angeles version of this song. Angel Vargas was very emotive when he sang, my all times favorite!
    When he practically talks:
    “El baile Rodríguez Peña
    el Mocho y el Cachafaz
    de la milonga porteña
    que nunca más volverá…”
    You feel the nostalgia along with him. Brilliant!


  2. Tango Decoder

    Thanks, Lucia! Yes, that really is a nostalgic bit. I love it too! Stay in touch. You know, you might like to join Tango Lyrics & Translations on FaceBook. Fun group. Also, The Tango Now Playing in My Head, also on FB. un abrazo, M



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