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By a head, it's madness! Alfredo Le Pera Carlos Gardel Gardel.jpg Carlos Gardel - Por Una Cabeza.ogg

Carlos Gardel in 1933.
By a head, it's madness!
That horse seemed a sure thing
'Til the final stretch, when
It slackened, and lost.
As it walked back by I
Thought I heard it say:
"Pal, you know you wouldn't lose
If you just wouldn't play."
By a head, it's madness
That girl seemed a sure thing!
She whose burning kisses
Set my heart a-race
Always she was lying
About true love everlasting
Yet I cannot help it:
I'd risk it all on her!
By a head! It is madness
But the lies of her kisses
Just begged to be believed
And while I was deceived
It burned away all sadness!
But if she forgets me
I've lost! What's to live for?
Ah, life is a thousand
Empty, broken promises -
So why live at all?
Why must I keep losing
By a head? It's madness!
Always swear today
I'll stop pushing my luck.
Even when I win
Soon it's lost - but then
To think of her kisses
Brings me back to her again!
I'm done with these races.
No more foolish gambles
Never more return
To see the bitter end!
But then, next week a filly
Seems once more to be a sure thing.
Gamble and I'll lose:
But what else can I do?
By a head, it is madness...
Por una cabeza
De un noble potrillo
Que justo en la raya
Afloja al llegar
Y que al regresar
Parece decir:
No olvides, hermano,
Vos sabés no hay que jugar...
Por una cabeza,
Metejón de un día,
De aquella coqueta
Y risueña mujer
Que al jurar sonriendo,
El amor que está mintiendo,
Quema en una hoguera
Todo mi querer.
Por una cabeza
Todas las locuras,
Su boca que besa
Borra la tristeza,
Calma la amargura.
Por una cabeza
Si ella me olvida
Qué importa perderme,
Mil veces la vida
Para qué vivir...
Cuántos desengaños,
Por una cabeza,
Yo juré mil veces,
No vuelvo a insistir,
Pero si un mirar
Me hiere al pasar,
Su boca de fuego,
Otra vez, quiero besar.
Basta de carreras,
Se acabó la timba,
Un final reñido
Yo no vuelvo a ver,
Pero si algún pingo
Llega a ser fija el domingo,
Yo me juego entero,
Qué le voy a hacer.
Por una cabeza...

Literal translation
By a head of a thoroughbred horse
who slackens in the final stretch,
and afterward when it returns seems to say:
"Remember, brother, you don't lose when you don't play."
Lost again by a head: the infatuation of a day
for a flirt who promises while she smiles
and tells lies about love
yet my whole heart burns for her.
By a head!
It's madness
but a lying mouth that kisses
still drives away sadness
and soothes the bitterness.
By a head!
If she forgets me
I'll lose everything that matters.
Life is a thousand broken promises--
but why live at all?
How many disappointments were lost by a head?
I swore a thousand times to stop pushing my luck.
It's no pleasant sight to watch a man lose.
Yet I remember the burn from her lips and want another kiss.
I'm done with races. No more foolish chances.
I won't return to see the bitter end.
But then next Sunday I'll think some filly is a sure thing.
I'll gamble; I'll find out. What else can I do?

Wikisource editions of the sheet musicEdit


The singable translation is ©2008 Adam Cuerden, who simply asks for attribution when it is used. The original work is public domain:


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was first published outside the United States (and not published in the U.S. within 30 days), and it was first published before 1989 without complying with U.S. copyright formalities (renewal and/or copyright notice) and it was in the public domain in its home country on the URAA date (January 1, 1996 for most countries).

The author died in 1935, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.