Sunday, November 7, 2010

Soy Aquel Viajero (1947)

Fellow blogger El Ingeniero has been pestering me for the past week to post something, reminding me that the past two posts have not been made by me! Given that most of my posts in the past few months have been nothing but complaining and more complaining, I wanted to make a post that was not bitchy. But I really have not been able to think of anything substantial to write about that is not negative. Maybe I need to seek professional help.
Anyway, as my usual cop out when my mind goes blank, I decided to transcribe and translate the lyrics to a song that I really like:

Soy aquel viajero
Music: Héctor Grané - Lyrics: Justo Ricardo Thompson
Orquesta Carlos Di Sarli
Vocals: Alberto Podestá
Date recorded: 28/05/1947

This is a song I don't think I've heard being played at milongas except when I've played it. Indeed, it doesn't seem to be a very famous song. Searching on YouTube yields to only a demo by Homer and Cristina that I did not even bother opening (don't get me started), and there is no transcription of the lyrics on or anywhere else, it seems. It seems this song is not usually included in the Di Sarli-Podestá tandas because it was recorded at a substantially later date than the bulk of Di Sarli-Podestá's works, although I didn't realize this until I looked up the details at So I listened to the song and wrote the lyrics down:

Contemplo desde el barco a la ciudad
sombreada por la luz que da el anochecer...
pronto el turbión de su calle
me arrastrará por encontrarte.
Y siento que la duda y la emoción*
aumenta la ansiedad que traigo al regresar
otra vez con la esperanza
de atarme a tus besos que no sé olvidar.
Miro a los que esperan y se van
y la ilusión de verte agranda más mi soledad.
Soy aquel viajero que partió sin un adiós
y sabe que al llegar tu voz no escuchará.
Tengo que encontrarte, corazón,
no sé si por mi bien o si esta vez para llorar;
sólo sé que he vuelto por tu amor que no olvidé,
que no podré olvidar jamás

I'm that traveler

From this boat I contemplate the city
shadowed by the light given by the nightfall...
Soon, the flood of its street
will drag me to find you
and I feel the doubt and the emotion
makes me more anxious as I return
with the hope of tying myself down
with your kisses that I cannot forget.
I look at those who wait and leave
and my hope of seeing you extends my loneliness.
I'm that traveler who left without farewell
and knows that your voice he will not hear.
I have to find you, love...
I don't know if it will be for my good or this time I'll cry;
I only know I've returned for your love that I have not forgotten
and will never forget.

*Thanks to those who have helped us decipher the slurred singing. After hearing it again, it sounds more like "La duda y..." rather than "súbita". Special thanks to Derrick, Fernando, and gloonie.


  1. I vote for ??????=Gomina, it is a "sticky" emotion!

  2. Related question: how much can you transcribe tango lyrics by listening? Do lunfardo words make it more difficult? I know that some songs have lots of lunfardo and some don't have much.

  3. I don't know, Dr. Agsol Rac, the word preceding the word emoción sounds like an esdrújula, which gomina is not. I also read two other suggestions, one being súbita (meaning sudden) and the other dúbida, but I'm almost certain that this word begins with a g. I'll keep looking for a satisfactory alternative.

    Leo, as you note here, some songs have more lunfardo than others. I only attempt transcribing tango lyrics by listening when I cannot find the lyrics elsewhere. Lunfardo can make things difficult - what I try to do is write down what the word sounds like, and search in online lunfardo dictionaries. What I've found to be more of a challenge is the often poor quality of the recording, which makes it difficult to understand what the vocalist is saying, especially when it's a fast song. In that case, I share the song with other Spanish speakers, preferrably Argentinians, to ask for their opinion.
    Most of the time, though, there's no need to transcribe the lyrics, as they can be found somewhere on the net.

  4. Hi: The word is "súbita" meaning sudden. Podestá and Ardit, the two recordings I've heard say something like "dúbida" which is a simple error of pronunciantion that are hundreds in tango singers, except for a few like Goyeneche they were great singers but knew nothing of words and their meaning. There are many examples of bad pronunciation and this is a case simply because Podestá perhaps ignored the meaning or in the recording he had a bit of confussion and misspelled it. Ardit simply copied the text of Podestá and repeated the mistake, taking no care of the meaning of what he is saying. This is my humble opinion, no lunfardo in this lyrics, do not look in that direction, the clue is súbita and that's it. Hope to have helped to clarify a bit. Sorry for my English it would have been better in porteño. Bye, bye
    Fernando from Buenos Aires

    1. Thanks, Fernando! Updated (5 years later... better late than never right?)

  5. Hi, according to hermanotango, who also transcribed the lyrics, the word you were having trouble with is "subita". So "Sudden emotion".

    Thanks for the post.

  6. Hola Jaimito, et al,
    Don't know if you still look at this blog, or if you're still interested in this, but a few weeks ago I happened to find an old copy of the original sheet music for "Soy aquel viajero" on sale on eBay. It arrived today, so I can tell you that the lyric, as Thompson wrote it for publication, is
    "Siento que la duda y la emoción..."
    So simple! Podestá, then Ariel Ardit later, simply slur to fit those syllables into the melody.
    Un abrazo,

    1. It has been a long while since I'd logged in, but thanks a lot!