Posts Tagged ‘attraction’

This song pierces my heart every time I hear it.

The tango was written in 1935 by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo le Pera.  Gardel wrote the music and le Pera wrote the lyrics.  Both died later that year (June 24, 1935) when the plane they were travelling in crashed in Medellin, Colombia.

Por Una Cabeza means “by a head” in Spanish.  It is a horse-racing term referring to a horse winning a race by the length of it’s head.

Tangotodo.com writes that Por Una Cabeza is “A beautiful tango that tells us, with disdain and pride, about the life of a loner. A man trapped between two fires: his passion for race horses and an excessive attraction towards a beautiful and evil woman who lies to him and rejects him. The turf is a metaphor where everything is included: hopes, bets, falls and misfortune, both in races and in love”.

Here is the original remastered video that includes Gardel & le Pera :

Here is my favourite instrumental version performed by Itzhak Perlman (tears always start flowing at 5:53):

Here are the lyrics in Spanish:

Por una cabeza
de un noble potrillo
que justo en la raya
afloja al llegar,
y que al regresar
parece decir:
No olvidés, hermano,
vos sabés, no hay que jugar.
Por una cabeza,
metejón de un día
de aquella coqueta
y burlona mujer,
que al jurar sonriendo
el amor que está mintiendo,
quema en una hoguera
todo mi querer.

Por una cabeza,
todas las locuras.
Su boca que besa,
borra la tristeza,
calma la amargura.
Por una cabeza,
si ella me olvida
qué importa perderme
mil veces la vida,
para qué vivir.

Cuántos desengaños,
por una cabeza.
Yo juré mil veces,
no vuelvo a insistir.
Pero si un mirar
me hiere al pasar,
sus labios de fuego
otra vez quiero besar.
Basta de carreras,
se acabó la timba.
¡Un final reñido
ya no vuelvo a ver!
Pero si algún pingo
llega a ser fija el domingo,
yo me juego entero.
¡Qué le voy a hacer.


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“When I look at old diaries, I see a pattern going back to sixth grade: attraction comes on like a flu. Then, eventually, the fever breaks. I try to remember that inevitable dissolution when in the thrall of desire, but it’s hard — like, when you are sick, believing you will be well again, or in the depths of slushy February remembering the blazing sun of August.”

– Excerpt from a New York Times Blog Post by Ada Calhoun


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