Rie Payaso is a wonderfully exciting tango. It's both playful and upbeat, but as so often in tango; lyrically it's telling quite a somber story. Written by Virgilio Carmona & Emilio Luis Ramon Falero in 1929, the song is based around the character Canio from the 1892 Italian opera "Pagliacci" (Clowns) by Ruggero Leoncavallo.
I started thinking about tango lyrics when one of my teachers told me about one of his performances; he explained how his partner (who wasn’t a native Spanish speaker, he emphasized), didn’t listen to the lyrics and ended up smiling hugely through the depressingly sad song they were dancing to. My teacher described this as an example of how we need to understand the lyrics to fully understand the song, because even songs that sound happy and upbeat could be sending a different message entirely.
Juan D'Arienzo's career spanned over 5 decades and one of his earliest and most often recorded tango is Nada Mas. The 1939 recording was one of the first tangos of D’Arienzo- Echagüe, this version has very little singing and the orchestra is the main attraction. This balance changed later when the singer was the principal element and the orchestra became less important.