Por una Cabeza
Composition and lyrics
The name is a Spanish horse-racing phrase meaning "by a head", which refers to a horse winning a race by the length of one head. The lyrics speak of a compulsive horse-track gambler who compares his addiction for horses with his attraction to women.
The tango has since been performed by numerous tango orchestras. Tango scenes with "Por una Cabeza" appear in Delicatessen (1991), Scent of a Woman (1992), Schindler's List (1993) - where it plays well to the subtext of the film's protagonist's "addiction" to women, True Lies (1994), Titanic (1996), Bad Santa (Uncut Version, 2003), All the King's Men (2006), Planet 51 (2009), episode 37 of Nip/Tuck (2003–2010), episode 9 of South Korean drama series Sweet Spy (2005–08), the beginning and ending credits of the South Korean drama broadcast I'm Sorry, I Love You (2004), and the CSI: NY episode "Down the Rabbit Hole" (2007). In the movie Frida (Salma Hayek, 2002), Gardel is heard singing it on a radio. It is also quoted in David Del Tredici's "Good News! Nilda is Back" (from the song cycle Miz Inez Sez). In Scent of a Woman (1992), the tango is performed by the "The Tango Project",consisting of William Schimmel (accordion), Michael Sahl (piano) and Stan Kurtis (violin), who actually appear in the dancing scene starring Al Pacino (the recording used is available on one of their CD albums). John Williams arranged a version of the piece that appears on the album "Cinema Serenade" with the violin solo performed by Itzhak Perlman. Perlman and Williams (conducting) have also performed the piece together in live concerts. In 2012 a dance version was released by the group "Da Carrera" featuring the original vocal recording by Carlos Gardel.
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