The educated Tanguero

Essential Tango Knowledge

El Adiós

This is one of the important Tangos, well known and performed by many artists. As a DJ, my typical association is „DONATO/LAGOS, strong rhythm, 10 out of 10, frequently played and asked for“. I have never looked into the text and really do not know who wrote the title and who actually has sung it, so let us look a bit deeper into this matter. (BTW: If you do not know the song, further down, you can find some videos with the music).

The first resource we have to look at is always TodoTango. Searching for „El adios“ reveals a whole lot of interesting resources [1]. First of all, the song has been written by Maruja Pacheco Huergo in 1937, the lyrics have been written by Virgilio San Clemente. Maruja is here a shortage of Maria Esther, so the composer is a female (!), which is a bit uncommon in Tango. San Clemente is well known as the Author of the vals “Viejo Jardin”, played by Carlos Gardel.

The lyrics of “El Adios” can be found on TodoTango [1]. Here the Spanish version:

En la tarde que en sombras se moría,
buenamente nos dimos el adiós;
mi tristeza profunda no veías
y al marcharte sonreíamos los dos.
Y la desolación, mirándote partir,
quebraba de emoción mi pobre voz…
El sueño más feliz, moría en el adiós
y el cielo para mí se obscureció.
En vano el alma
con voz velada
volcó en la noche la pena…
Sólo un silencio
profundo y grave
lloraba en mi corazón.

Sobre el tiempo transcurrido
vives siempre en mí,
y estos campos que nos vieron
juntos sonreír
me preguntan si el olvido
me curó de ti.
Y entre los vientos
se van mis quejas
muriendo en ecos,
mientras que lejos
otros brazos y otros besos
te aprisionan y me dicen
que ya nunca has de volver.

Cuando vuelva a lucir la primavera,
y los campos se pinten de color,
otra vez el dolor y los recuerdos
de nostalgias llenarán mi corazón.
Las aves poblarán de trinos el lugar
y el cielo volcará su claridad…
Pero mi corazón en sombras vivirá
y el ala del dolor te llamará.
En vano el alma
dirá a la luna
con voz velada la pena…
Y habrá un silencio
profundo y grave
llorando en mi corazón.


The song consists of three verses, so it is a quite long one. All three verses can be divided in a first part (8 lines) and a second part (6 lines). Here is the English translation [2]:


In the afternoon dying in shadows,
very nicely we said farewell;
You didn’t notice my deep sadness
and as you left we both smiled.
And desolation, from watching you go,
broke with emotion my poor voice …
The happiest dream, died in the goodbye
for me, the sky became dark.
In vain the soul
with veiled voice
poured in the night the sorrow …
Only a silence
deep and serious
cried in my heart.

As time has passed
you always live in me,
and these fields that saw us
together, smiling
wonder if oblivion
has cured me of you.
And among the winds
my complaints go
dying in echoes,
looking for you …
while far away
other arms and other kisses
imprison you and tell me
you will never return.

When spring return,
and the fields show their colors,
again the pain and memories
will fill with nostalgia my heart.
Trilling birds will populate the place
and sky will cast its clarity…
But my heart will live in shadows
and the wing of pain will call you.
In vain the soul
will tell the moon,
with veiled voice, the sorrow…
And there will be a silence,
deep and serious
crying in my heart.


Oops, again a very sad song, which initially does not really fit to the music. This is the way of Tango…….


TodoTango refers to YouTube as a Video source for the song in a version by Rodrigo y Nacho:



Interesting here, is that I couldn´t remember to hear a song that long during my Tango-“education”. So I looked into the version of Edgardo Donato and suddenly I understood. Donato recorded the song with Horacio Lagos as an Estribillista in 1938. An Estribillista is a singer, restricted to singing only part of the lyrics, so that the orchestra is the predominant part of the song. This was used to create music for dancers with a strong beat. More on the different roles of Tango singers can be found here [3].

This is the version of Edgardo Donato:



Another Version of the song was recorded by Francisco Canaro in the same year with Roberto Maida as an Estribillista as well (are there any songs Canaro hasn´t recorded J ?). This song is also frequently played in Milongas (says the DJ). Interestingly, the singer starts with the second part of the first verse (“En vano…..”), then skips to the first part of the verse (“En la tarde….”).

From there I started to search for other versions of the song with the full text. My collection revealed a version by Ignacio Corsini (“El caballero cantor”). This version also was recorded in 1938 and here the whole song was performed.


Another version was performed by Angel Vargas with the Orch. Angel Vargas/Armando Lacava in a more modern style in 1954. Here the verses 1 and 2 are performed by the singer, missing out number 3. The fresh style of the arrangement clearly shows the development of tango into a more sophisticated style.



Another stylish development comes from one of the big masters of modern tango music himself. Osvaldo Pugliese recorded “El Adios” with Jorge Maciel as a singer in 1965 in his own unique style. The text is also shortened. Maciel just sings Verse 1.1, 2.1, 2.2 and repeats 2.2.



There are two other recordings in my collection. A beautiful one by Julian Plaza (sung by a female singer) and a pure instrumental one by Trio Hugo Diaz. This one is just spectacular because the harmonica of Diaz is simply unique.



Another one comes from Color Tango (Pugliese 2.0) by Roberto Alvarez sung by Roberto Decarre.



For Tango Shows the song is also quite popular. For me the most spectacular one is the show by Gustavo Naveira and Giselle Anne, presented in 2008 in San Francisco. They are dancing the Donato version:



This is another example by Sebastian Arce and Mariana Montes dancing the Pugliese version.




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