English tangos. Do they exist?

Perhaps I'm seriously sheltered, but every AT song I know/have heard is in Spanish, but are there any in English?

I'm talking real AT, not things like They Had it Coming from Chicago or English songs with a solid (ballroom) tango beat, but pure AT songs, but in English, or any other language.

I know Gotan Project's stuff, but that's not so much about the lyrics as the origins of the music.


New Member
The Tango "I Am You" from "The Tango Lesson" has words in English to it. But since Sally Potter is the only one I know of who has sung it, it's better without the words.


Well-Known Member
"tango till they're sore" by Tom Waits is the only one that comes to mind, and the Masochism Tango by Tom Lehrer. Neither are traditional tangos though. I'm sure there must be some.......


Well-Known Member
bordertangoman said:
"tango till they're sore" by Tom Waits is the only one that comes to mind, and the Masochism Tango by Tom Lehrer. Neither are traditional tangos though. I'm sure there must be some.......
this is a link to Carlos Lenoir - Classical Tangos In English!!!!
but not having heard it I cannot say if the English langauge carries the (usually melancholy) :cry: :cry: feeling of the Argentine originals.
"Classical Tangos In English" Cd

Dear Tango Lovers,

Just because my CD is available on a British Web-site doesn´t mean that it is itself British. It is absolutely porteño. I was born in Buenos Aires and grew up in the States. I think indistinctly in both languages so after 9 months of hard work, I managed to translate the best tangos of the Golden Era. I hired Raúl Parentella for the music (music arranger of Julio Iglesias' "Tango" CD) and sang in (American) English but with AT syncopation. The CD contains all the lyrics as well as nice photographs of Buenos Aires.

I'd would love to email you a review made by the Buenos Aires Herald as well as a summary of the numeous opinions I have received from all around the world. Let me know your e-mail addresses so that I can do this.

I am presently trying to find somebody interested in distributing the CD in the USA (as well as most other countries). If you want to buy the CD, please let me know and we can try to find some way of mailing it to you.

I hope this works:

Newspaper article published in the Buenos Aires Herald
January 26, 2004

Good Translation of Tango Classics

Audio Review by Alfredo Cernadas Quesada

On the cover of this remarkably well produced record a dapper gentleman looks out from the window of an ancient bar marrón that reeks of tango. The disc cover reads Classical Tangos in English. It’s not the first time his musical genre appears in anglo attire. Only a few months ago I reviewed one by Gillian Peyró, an English lady married to an Argentine musician, but the approach was on the demure side. And the record was poorly packaged. In this release, the performer, Carlos Lenoir, has reo pizzaz and, in spite of the language, porteñismo to spare. His voice is on the raspy side, more late Goyeneche than Del Carril, but it sounds right, as does the choice of North American rather than British pronunciation.

It all began almost as a private prank, but Lenoir’s translations proved so adequate that, prodded by his friends, he decided to make this disc. Tango music has been recorded before by famous English-speaking singers, but with lyrics that had precious little if any relation with the original text. Such as Adiós Muchachos which, as sung by Louise Armstrong, was transformed into I Get Ideas. Lenoir’s translations are not only true to the original texts: they don’t sound ridiculous and are eminently singable, every syllable falls right on each note. And the choice of items is a collection of some of the best known tangos in the repertoire: Mi Buenos Aires Querido, Cafetín de Buenos Aires, Malena, Uno, Yira Yira, Melodía de Arrabal, Chorra, Cambalache, Caminito, Nada, Por Una Cabeza, Volver. The musical arrangements were done by no less than Raúl Parentella, who also plays the piano with a frist rate ensemble that includes two bandoneons and a violin. Lenoir also took the outstanding photographs that adorn the exemplary booklet. Since it won’t be easy to find this disc in the stores, the following addresses will be useful for those interested in this record: carloslenoir@fibertel.com.ar / www.markowiczgroup.com



“...The musicianship is excellent and it sounds very good...”

Christophe “Chris” Beck (Composer for the Film and
TV Industries – USA)

“…The material seems very interesting. Also, the task you carry out of transmiting the tango beyonds its danceable forms is admirable. Count on me for anything related to the wider diffusion of tango in all its diversity…”

Alfredo Alderete (President – National Tango
Academy of Germany)

“...I liked it very much. People in the music business (here) tell me that the quality is excellent. Congratulations because it is great material. Count on me for whatever you consider convenient...”

Pablo Larguía (Web Entrepreneur,
Film Producer, etc. – Spain)

“...It is very well sung and expressed and also, very well accompanied...”

Ricardo Lew (Composer, Arranger, Guitar Player
and Sessionist – Argentina)

“…Remarkably well produced record…translations true to the original texts…emminently singable…some of the best known tangos…outstanding photographs adorn the exemplary booklet…”

Alfredo Cernadas Quesada (Audio review published
in the Buenos Aires Herald)

“...I liked it a lot, very much. When I listen to it, it moves me a lot each time. I was never a tango fanatic and I am not a specialist on the topic; however, I must say that the production is very good...”

John Alex Mitchell (Radio Producer - Germany)

“...The CD is very well done. I play it often in the car (and) find it most pleasant. He has a nice voice, not too intrusive or too loud, as other singers are wont to do...”

Norton Hyman (Tango Dancing Instructor – USA)

“...It is very original and very good…I liked it a lot. Also, I congratulate you for having the courage of singing in English in a country that is full of tango orthodox...”

Mundo Burgos (Tango Singer - Germany)

“..I enjoyed the CD...I thought it was excellent. I found it most pleasant…you sing nicely and ‘canyengue’ (true to tango mannerisms and churlishness). My congratulations...”

Dr. Miguel Velloso (Argentine Ambassador
to the P.R.C.)

“…Very amusing and enjoyable. Congratulations on the enterprise…”

Andrew Graham Yooll (Senior Editor –
The Buenos Aires Herald)

“...The translations are superb. You have captured the spirit , and as poetry, all are very meaningful and poignant. You did an excellent job of capturing the subtle meanings of the songs and you especially stayed true to the cadence…”

Beverly Brown (Amateur Tango Dancer – USA)

“...I know how hard it is to translate songs and especially tangos and because of this, before anything else, I congratulate you for such task. Translating twelve tangos is a hell of a job and this alone merits respect and recognition. One can notice that there was hard work in all areas and this is truly appreciated …”

Lucila Gandolfo (Professional Singer – Argentina)

“...Beautiful production. I liked the arrangements - you hired somebody outstanding. I also liked how your voice sounds...”

Estela Lagomarsino (Amateur Tango Dancer – Argentina)

“...I have to congratulate you for this excellent work in the translation of the lyrics, but even more important for me, for your performance in singing the lyrics. Your delivery conveyed the feeling of the tango. The first time I listened the CD, it was quite emotional because the language was transparent. Even though it was in English, the lyrics gave me the same feeling as if they were sung in Spanish. The record transported me to the times of my youth and reminded me of the culture of the tango. I wish you much success in distributing this CD and feel free to share my comments if they can help others enjoy your work...”

Raúl Curbelo (Electronics Engineer – USA)

“…(I was) Astounded…”

Gustavo Yrazu (Business Consultant – Argentina)

“...Wow. what can I say? My first ‘feelings’ were: incredible. I have been listening to music from all over the world for the last 40 years, specially tangos. I know my tangos by heart, specially those of Gardel. The first thing that impressed me were the perfect translations. And I must emphasize the perfect style when you sing; very similar to Castillo because of your tone of voice. I imagine you master tangos and that you must like them a lot. My wife Heather, who is British but lived all her life in Paraguay and has a lot of family in Buenos Aires loves it - now plays it every day. You did an incredible job...”

Dirk Dillen (IT Executive - Australia)

“...You chose some of the best tangos and the feel is authentic. Your voice suits the tangos...”

Corina Poore (Animated Cartoon Designer - England)

“...I want to express my sincere appreciation for your efforts...”

Bob Boscarato (Executive – USA)

“...Santiago (son) who is a sound engineer was very impressed and rightly so. The presentation is extremely good; first class. The word he used was 'currado' (Spanish slang for excellence when it's the result of elaborate work and inspiration). Believe me, coming from someone as critical as him, he really means it. And I enjoyed it so much! The music is great and the translations are also very 'currados'. I really don't know how you managed to make the lyrics ride on the same amount of syllables. Congratulations to you and all those who participated in this incredible project...”

Lina Baillie (Housewife - Spain)

“…I had a blast listening to it from beginning to end. You sound great! My hat is off to you! Translating and singing tangos in English seems like quite a bold proposition. It takes guts and resolve to bring to life such a production…”

Richard Rice (Executive Search Consultant – USA)

“...It is absolutely fascinating to get to know the meaning behind the music…a splendid project …”

Jenny and Bob Davis (Music Lovers – England)

“...I find it incredible. His translation is perfect. I think he has done a great job...”

Cecilia Amarilis Fernández Sarmiento de Polimeni
(Professional Translator – Argentina)

“...It is excellently translated and adapted to the spirit of the original lyrics...”

Sergio Saichin (Finance Executive – USA)

“...I liked the CD very much. In first place, the good job of translation (which must have been hard work, for sure). I also liked the interpretation. I hope that it sells well and above all, that it is heard abroad in many different media ...”

Rolando Lequeux (IT Executive – USA)

“...My congratulations for the job! I love it!...”

Marcela Frias (Graphic Designer – Argentina)

“...We really like your CD. It is very good…”

Phil Oakes (Housewife – England)

Hope I haven't bored you guys!


Carlos Lenoir
Gotan Records
Welcome, indeed, Carlos. The reviews certainly are impressive and we're all looking forward to your input (because of your obvious expertise) in the area! :)
Dear tango friends,

I replied to your enquiries last Sunday or Monday and not receiving your reaction/s, I entered the forum and saw my reply was missing!!! I don´t get it but I will try to repeat here what I said then.

The problem is that cheques somehow get "lost" in the mail to Argentina, bank transfers are way too expensive,etc. The only viable way of sending me the payment is by Western Union. I understand you can do it by email and pay with your credit card. They will charge you 12 dollars to send up to 50 dollars to Buenos Aires (the slowest / cheapest service - 5 day payment). I will collect here what you send at the day's exchange rate in pesos (don't worry this is my problem). The downside is that you have to pay 12 dollars to W.U. over and above the cost of the CD plus postage.

The retail price of my CD is 10 dollars and the postage is 4 more so one CD will cost you 14 dollars which you send me plus 12 dollars to Western Union or 26 dollars in total. This is roughly what it will cost you to buy it from WRD in England and have them airmail it to you.

As an exeption (until I find a US distributor) I think the best thing is to send you two CDs (one for you and one as a present for a tango friend at your milonga) at my wholesale price of 7 dollars each plus 6 for postage (lower 48 states) or 20 dollars in total. When you add the 12 dollars of W.U. you pay 32 dollars in total or 16 dollars each which seems to be OK.

Please let me know if this is viable / thanks

Best regards,

English tangos

No. I don't believe any anglophone composer has ever written an Argentine-style tango, let alone put words in his own language to it. There are lots of tangos with English words - Hernando's Hideaway, Isle of Capri, I Can't tell a Waltz from a Tango, Never do a Tango with an Eskimo - and lots without words - Ecstasy, Blue Tango, Golden Tango, Pasion, Noches des Estrellas - but they don't sound a bit Argentine, not even the ones with Spanish names.

The same goes for other European tangos - In einer kleiner Konditorei, Liebe war es nie, Tango Roulette, Tango d'Amore, Jealousy, Satumaa, Syvä kuin meri, etc, etc, etc . . .

When genuine Argentine tangos are translated into another language the whole tune undergoes a change of character - Louis Armstrong's Kiss of Fire and I Get Ideas are nothing like the original El Choclo and Adios Muchachos. Yksin is a very popular tango in Finland but it bears little resemblance to Uno.

The only exception is the Finnish group Trio Corazon, which has a Gardelesque singer who sings El Choclo and other Argentine tunes in Finnish, but they still sound Argentine. I'm not sure if the group is still going - I last saw them in Sinäjoki in 2002, and their website seems to have disappeared.
Dear Piimapoika,

For what you have in mind, it does help when you have grown up in both the USA and Argentina, and you happen to be a singer / musician.

May I suggest that you read my message in this same forum which I sent last August 14 which includes the opinions of many tango fans (as well as that of the Buenos Aires English-language newspaper) on my CD "Classical Tangos in English". It contains 12 very well-known tangos (including " Kuoleman Paikka").

If after reading this, you are interested in purchasing the disc, since you fortunately seem to live in Bristol, you may want to contact WRD Music which sell it in the UK. They have various methods of payment for your convenience but unfortunately, their site does not permit you to listen to the songs.

Your options are:

a) Type "Carlos Lenoir" in Google or similar search engine - "Shop On Line with WRD" should appear and then click into it

b) Type "www.wrdmusic.com/details.asp?pid=771"

c) Go to "www.wrdmusic.com" - then click on "Compact Discs" - then put "lenoir" in "Keywords"

I sincerely hope you do buy the CD and enjoy it. If you do, please do make a point of writing to this forum with your thoughts. Please note that everybody I know had your same opinion ("they don't sound a bit Argentine") prior to my CD. That is why I lovingly invested 2 years of my life in this project.

My best regards to all those on this forum,

Carlos Lenoir
Gotan Records


Well-Known Member
Hi Carlos Lenoir! Welcome.

(You may have been around a while, but I haven't welcomed you before, so I'm doing it now. )

Are you involved in the Gotan project? How? Any words of wisdom you want to share? 8)
Hi Pygmalion,

Many in Argentina appreciate the Gotan Project, specially the younger / techno crowd but, just mixing a bandoneon with other instruments isn't necessarily tango for most people.

Gotan Records and Gotan Project are two distinct operations. Mine is located in Argentina and is, amongst other things, a record lable, whilst the other is the name of a band in Europe.

It has always been "cool" for "guapos" (tough, neighbourhood, small-time thugs in the old tango days - 1920 / 1930) to talk with syllables in inverted order. When speaking fast, it could be a little more difficult to understand what 2 guys were talking about and this kept other out of their conversations. This is called talking in "vesre", which comes from the word "revés" which means backwards.

Gotan is simply "tango" said in vesre = with inverted syllables and used quite frequently in vernacular / slang conversations even today.

Best regards,

Carlos Lenoir
Classical tangos in English

BRILLIANT!!! I ordered it on 17th, it arrived today (19th) and I have been playing it all day. I stand corrected - Argentine tangos can be translated into English and still sound Argentine.

I wonder if there are any transfers the other way? Have Latinos adopted European tangos, and if so what did they sound like? The only example I can think of is the LP "Malando Plays Toivo Kärki" of 1973, where Kärki's Finnish classics are played in what is intended to be an Argentine orchestral style (there are no vocals). This is not a true example though because Malando is Dutch.

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