Thursday, November 19, 2009
Oh, well, you'd recognize it if I hummed it to you. It's 'La Cumparista,' and maybe the best known tango extant. The funny thing is that it's a Uruguayan composition. The Argentines swarm all over the tango, but Uruguayans have decent claim to a lot of tango history, though they seem rather staid for such inflamed music. The Argentines claim Carlos Gardel, the main man of tango, whom I have also seen identified as Uruguayan by birth, French by birth, and Italian by birth. Gardel is still a presence in Buenos Aires; we spent a few days in his old neighborhood, Abasto. He was a good-looking guy, always pictured in a snap-brim fedora. I wouldn't venture an opinion about his place of birth. Here's 'La Cumparsita,' along with wonderful old photos of Montevideo. A professional dancer told me that the tango is a fiendishly difficult dance, with complicating hooks and flourishes. To me it always sounded like a straightforward 1-2-3-4 or maybe 1-2, 1-2. But, then again, I can barely cross the livingroom without banging into the coffee table, so what do I know about any kind of dancing? The music knocks me out. We went to a concert in Madrid of music by Astor Piazzola, whom I recommend to you.