Suerte Loca (1924)

A card game as a metapher for life


T: 242; bpm: 69

Lyrics: Francisco García Jiménez

Musik: Anselmo Aieta

- Enrique Rodriguez (1941/ Moreno)
- Aníbal Troilo (1942/Fiorentino)
- Juan D'Arienzo (1964/Laborde)
- Dúo Fuertes Varnerín (2022)

In this monologue from an older man to his younger buddy, lyricist Francisco García Jiménez links images from the world of card games with the unpredictable, treacherous life that the man of the street had to face in the 1920s.

Some hints in the text refer to the Argentinean card game par excellence:


This río-de-la-plata card game, in which, like poker, raising the stakes at the right moment is the deciding factor, was and is as much a part of Argentina's soul as the tango, the asado or - at least in the past - the passion for horse racing.

And just as it takes years to understand the tango, it takes years to master Truco.

Yet the rules are quickly explained.

Four or six players compete in teams. Each player receives three of 40 Spanish cards similar to the german Skat hand. However, the game is not so much decided by the cards themselves, which the Argentines play counter-clockwise.

What counts instead is cheeky banter and skilful palaver.

Truco, in contrast to the rather cool and silent game of poker, is embedded in chatting, showing off, disguising and hidden communication. With gestures and phrases that vary from region to region, the players of a team try to communicate the value of their own cards to their partner, if possible without the opponent being able to understand this.

At the same time, the players try to convince the opponent of the value of their own hand with big words, to unsettle or expose him or her, or to hide key words such as truco, retruco or envidio, etc., which are decisive for the course of the game, in their own torrent of words. And when someone has been really fooled, the Argentines use the expression Hacerle la cama a alguin (=to make someone's bed).

The composition

Anselmo Aieta, a musician of the first tango generation, which developed the foundations for the genre as Guardia Vieja, is one of the most important composers of the 1920s, who not only provided Gardel with numerous hits. Admittedly, Aieta woke up virtually every morning with a new melody. But since the self-taught bandoneon player, who played intuitively, could not write music himself, his friends, especially Charlo, who was as popular as Gardel at the time, wrote down his fresh melodies.

The music

Aieta composed Suerte Loca in 1924, that is, before the musicians around Julio de Caro added musical depth and complexity to the tango. At the same time, Aieta, who himself led several orchestras in the early 1920s, always stood for the traditional line of development of tango. And it is in this spirit that Enrique Rodríguez interprets this tango.

The first part (0 - 0:34) lives from the dialogue of the piano with the entrance phrase of sixteenths and thirty-seconds played in unison in staccato, which is so characteristic of this tango. 

In the second part (0:34-1:04), at 0:40, the almost monotonously stomping compás of the bandoneons, emphasising every beat, establishes itself, and in the sung part (1:04-2:08) it forms the only accompaniment for Armando Moreno's beguilingly beautiful singing. Cleverly and very inspiring for dancers, Rodriguez interrupts this monotony after every eight beats with small, rhythmic interjections from the piano.

On the other hand Countermelodies, question-and-answer games, harmonic expansions or even a rhythmically sophisticated variación in the final section are completely absent.

Troilo uses almost the same musical material. His Suerte Loca, which seems far less inspiring to the dance leg, however, sparkles with musical finesse and musicality, culminating in the wonderfully sensitive solo of the fifth section.

D'Arienzo, on the other hand, plumps up this 1964 classic with the pathos and mellifluousness typical of the 60s, without, as is so often the case, becoming too obtrusive. Grandiose!

Enrique Rodríguez (24.10.1941 – Armando Moreno)
Pablo Rodríguez y Majo Martirena - 2022

Francisco Canaro (Voc: Charlo, 1928)

Aníbal Troilo (Voc: Francisco Fiorentino, 1942)

Juan D’Arienzo (Armando Laborde, 1964)

Suerto Loca

En el naipe del vivir,

suelo acertar la carta de la boca…

y a mi lado oigo decir

que es porque estoy con una suerte loca.

Al saber le llaman suerte

lo aprendí viendo trampearme

Y ahora solo han de coparme

los que banquen con la muerte.

¡En el naipe del vivir,

para ganar, primero perdi!

Yo también entré a jugar

confiado en la ceguera del azar,

y luego vi que todo era mentir…

y el capital en manos del más vil.

No me creés… te pierde el corazón…

que fe tenés… ¿No ves que no acertás?

¡Que si jugás a cartas de ilusion,

son de dolor las cartas que se dan!

No me envidies si me ves acertador,

pues soy el Desengaño...

Y si ciego así perdés,

es que tenés los lindos veinte años...

El tapete es la esperanza

y, a pesar de lo aprendido,

si me dan lo que he perdido

vuelve a hundirme la confianza...

¡Suerte loca es conservar

una ilusión en tanto penar!

Suerte Loca

In the card-game of life,

I usually know what's in the dealer's hand...*

And at my side, I hear them say

it’s ‘cos I’ve got some crazy luck!

"Knowledge is often mistaken for luck";*
I learned that by seeing myself get fleeced.

And now, the only ones who'd "see" my bets*

are those who'd pay with their lives.*

In the card-game of life,

to win, I first had to lose!

I too started to play,

trusting in the blindness of chance.

And then I saw that it was all a lie...

that the vilest cheat held all the cash.*

You don't believe me? Your heart leads you astray!*

What faith you've got! Don't you see you've got it wrong?*

That if you play cards of illusion,*

you'll be dealt the cards of pain!

Don’t be jealous if I call your bluff,*

Disappointment is my middle name!

And if you blindly lose,

it's just that you’re too young to know the score…*

For me, the table is the only hope

and, despite all I’ve learned,

if they gave me back what I've lost,

the confidence would ruin me all over again.

Crazy luck is maintaining an illusion

in so much agony!