Continuing in my research I found this interesting story behind a very famous song I was investigating..
Pero yo sé (But I know).
A wonderfully sad lyric sung from the woman’s perspective to a man she probably loves. To a man who is on the town acting the playboy but in her opinion running from love, pain and the playboy routine is just an act and she knows this.
More interestingly, it is composed and written by a woman who was brought down by a scandal fitting of any tango lyric at the height of her career.
Written and composed by Azucena Josefina Maizani (Pictured above). A stunning black haired beauty. Her own 1931 version is in the links below, she was initially discovered by Francisco Canaro in 1920 and went on to be a huge star of stage and screen.
Francisco Canaro tells us in his memoirs that one night in the Boite Pigalle he was approached by a young girl who wanted to sing. He said it was a “brunette in splendid youth” He gladly offered her a test there, without even knowing her name he put her down as “Azabache” (after the coal lignite, referring to her jet black hair) she sang two songs and impressed Canaro
After the test, a friend invited her to an after show party with cast of the Apollo theatre where the famous pianist Enrique Delfino was also present, he was equally impressed and presented her the next day at the National Theatre, she never looked back.
She wrote the scores and/or lyrics for 24 songs. Included in her works are the delightful vals ‘Pensando en ti’ and ‘La canción de Buenos Aires’ (check out a version sung by Alberto Castillo in 1948.) She also recorded as a singer 270 songs throughout her career.
Tragic Personal Life:
Born in 1902 in Buenos Aires by 1928 she was at the height of her singing fame, she married Juan Scarpino in 1928 they have a son soon after. The baby tragically dies and their marriage fails as a result. In 1929 she escapes to tour Spain and Portugal with the famous violinist Roberto Zerillo, a good friend. She returns in 1932 to find her place at the top now occupied by other female singers like Ada Falcon and Libertad Lamarque.
Alone and back in male dominated Buenos Aires scene and trying to regain her rightful place she joins the cast of a new movie called “Tango” and sings “La canción de Buenos Aires”, “la “Milonga del novecientos” acommpanied by the Orquesta de Juan de Dios Filiberto, and the tango “Botines viejos”. The huge success of the film and subsequent movies launches her again to the top level of the female singers by early 1934.
In 1936 at the height of her fame scandal hits. In 1936 her second husband and artistic manager (agent) dramatically commits suicide after he finds out she has been cheating on him. The scandal damages her reputation severely. She makes a slight comeback after this in theatre but never fully recovers and has by 1949 faded into obscurity.
In 1966, she had a major stroke from which she never recovered fully and died on January 15, 1970 almost forgotten in the history of tango. A picture of her used in the obituaries in 1970 was taken in the early 60’s.
The Song: PERO YO SÉ
Pero yo sé (But I know) is her most famous creation. she wrote both the music and lyrics. She recorded it herself (link below). This song though was recorded by numerous orquestas, most famously by Angel D’Agostino with Angel Vargas singing. You will have danced at some time to this marvellous song.
This 1954 Troilo for me is a fantastic version and very rarely played in milongas. It is when Troilo was at his most expansionist and exploratory yet still danceable. From 1960 on Troilo’s sound moves from danceable to tango for listening. In the early 50’s he is joined by one of the finest voices of the Golden Era, Rául Beron. His voice flowing wonderfully with Troilo’s Bandoneon, in fact I feel it is Troilo who got the best from Beron, where Demare and Calo previously struggled to match his style of singing in the 40’s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB6iQfzFR2k
There is also 1928 Canaro recording with Charlo. Charlo interestingly recorded the same song 5 months earlier with Francisco Lomuto in early July of 1928. There is also a dreamy instrumental version by Orquesta Juan Bautista Guido from 1928. It is an interesting exercise to listen to all of them.
The Lyrics and translation on the youtube page for each song are thanks to Paul Bottomer.
1928 Francisco Canaro con Charlo: https://youtu.be/t4r967nWdd8
1928 Francisco Lomuto con Charlo: https://youtu.be/xRcmRK83Qgo
1931 Azucena Maizani con Cufaro y Zerillo: https://youtu.be/3QYEWhdQ2LU
1928 Orq. Juan Bautista Guido Instrumental: https://youtu.be/7hOIvA6BHc8
1953 Orq. A. Lacava con Angel Vargas: https://youtu.be/0GDd7qlO6zk
You can also find on Paul Bottomers’ Excellent Youtube page
1942 Orq. Angel D’Agostino con Angel Vargas: https://youtu.be/mi2OTD4u2Jc
1952 Orq. Osvado Fresedo con Héctor Pacheco: https://youtu.be/i1sS3ajQ6X4
There is also a delightful earlier Fresedo I will upload soon.
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Note: All research is verified where possible but records for these times are incomplete or largely consist of hearsay and therefore small errors might be present.