Carlos Gardel (11 December 1890 – 24 June 1935) was a singer, songwriter and actor, and is perhaps the most prominent figure in thehistory of tango. He was born in Toulouse, France, although he never acknowledged his birthplace publicly, and there are still claims of his birth in Uruguay. (See below.) He lived in Argentina from the age of two and acquired Argentine citizenship in 1923. He grew up in the Abastoneighborhood of Buenos Aires. He attended Pio IX Industrial high-school located in the Almagro neighborhood of Buenos Aires. He died in anairplane crash at the height of his career, becoming an archetypal tragic hero mourned throughout Latin America. For many, Gardel embodies the soul of the tango style. He is commonly referred to as “Carlitos“, “El Zorzal” (The Song Thrush), “The King of Tango“, “El Mago” (The Magician) and “El Mudo” (The Mute).
The unerring musicality of Gardel’s baritone voice and the dramatic phrasing of his lyrics made miniature masterpieces of his hundreds of three-minute tango recordings. Together with lyricist and long-time collaborator Alfredo Le Pera, Gardel wrote several classic tangos, most notably: Mi Buenos Aires querido, Cuesta abajo, Amores de estudiante, Soledad, Volver, Por una cabeza and El día que me quieras.
The title may seem odd to those who dont speak Spanish. It is because the song is about losing at the horses “by a head” ( = una cabeza ).