Por una Cabeza

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"Por una Cabeza"
Released 1935
Recorded 1935
Genre Tango
Length 2:34
Label RCA -Víctor
Composer(s) Carlos Gardel
Lyricist(s) Alfredo Le Pera
Performed by Carlos Gardel

"Por una Cabeza" is a tango song with music and lyrics written in 1935 by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera respectively.[1]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

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.

Alfredo Le Pera was an Argentine, born in Brazil, son of Italian immigrants. Le Pera and Gardel died in an airplane crash in Medellín, on Monday, June 24, 1935.

The starting phrase in the B section may be inspired by Mozart's Rondo for violin and orchestra in C major, K. 373.[2][3][4]

The song was originally composed in A major.[5] It was thereafter adapted to the violin and the piano sometimes in A major,[6][7] sometimes in G major.[8][9]

New releases[edit]

"Por una cabeza"
Single by Il Divo
from the album Amor & Pasión
Released October, 2015
Recorded 2015, México
Genre Classical crossover
Label Sony Music, Syco Music and Columbia Records.
Writer(s) Carlos Gardel, Alfredo Le Pera
Producer(s) Julio Reyes Copello
Il Divo singles chronology
"Wicked Game"
"Por una Cabeza"
"Bésame Mucho"
  • Andrea Bocelli, Cinema (October 2015)
  • Il Divo, a classical vocal group of four male singers. They also recorded a music video for the song.
  • Diego el Cigala on your album Romance de la luna Tucumana (2013).
  • Da Carrera feat. Carlos Gardel, "Por una cabeza" Remake (2012)
  • Aida Cuevas for album "De corazón a corazón... Mariachi Tango". (2010).
  • Jerry Rivera tribute to Gardel (2007).
  • Andrés Calamaro on your album Tinta roja (2006).
  • Itzhak Perlman y John Williams. Adaptation for violin, album Cinema Serenade, to film Scent of a Woman.
  • Carlos Gardel he made the first recording in March 1935. Also sings on two occasions in the film Tango Bar (1935)

Uses in popular culture[edit]

The tango has since been performed by numerous tango orchestras.

During a state visit, U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama danced to the tune with Mora Godoy and José Lugones, respectively, in Buenos Aires, Argentina on March 23, 2016.[10][11]


Tango scenes with "Por una Cabeza" appear in some of the following films or the song is mentioned.

  • 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).
  • Schindler's List (1993) – It plays well to the subtext of the film's protagonist's "addiction" to women
  • True Lies (1994) - Played in both the opening and closing scenes
  • Frida (Salma Hayek, 2002) – Gardel is heard singing it on a radio
  • Bad Santa (Uncut Version, 2003)
  • All the King's Men (2006)
  • Easy Virtue (2008)
  • Planet 51 (2009)


  • Episode 37 of Nip/Tuck (2003–2010)
  • Medium Season5 Episode18
  • The CSI: NY episode "Down the Rabbit Hole" (2007)
  • The wedding dance of April Scott and Dexter Walker in Home and Away (2014)
  • Deligianneio Parthenagogeio (Greek tv serie: Δεληγιάννειο Παρθεναγωγείο) on episode 01 (επεισόδειο 01) (2007-2008)


  • David Del Tredici's "Good News! Nilda is Back" (from the song cycle Miz Inez Sez) – quoted
  • 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 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

Lyrics in public domain[edit]

Por una cabeza
de un noble potrillo
que justo en la raya
afloja al llegar,
y que al regresar
parece decir:
No olvidés, 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,
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.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]