By Rodolfo Espinoza
A composer, who for more than three decades has been singing of unrequited love and
betrayed lovers, has become an unexpected sensation and cult singer among the Brazilian
middle-class in the South with a song he composed and has been performing for 14 years.
The tune is called "Garçon" and the composer is the Recifense (from
Recife, state of Pernambuco) raised in Rio, Reginaldo Rossi, 54.
Rossi sings a kind of campy music known as brega, whose lyrics tell stories with
such exaggerated colors and drama that they become funny and cult. He went back to his
hometown Recife in the 70’s looking for the applause and fame he was not getting in the
Rio-São Paulo axis and there became King of the Romantic Song in the Northeast. Rossi had
started composing songs for the Jovem Guarda movement. He is the author, for example, of
"O Pão" (The Hunk), which in 1966 became a hit sung by Sérgio Murilo.
The recent fame of the singer/composer came through Bahia. It was the singing of
"Garçon" by celebrities such as Beijo and Cheiro de Amor bands as well as Jamil
e uma Noites and Ricardo Chaves that has spread the tune as a legitimate Baiano sound and
given it extra appeal.
Rossi has been enjoying his sudden fame. In a recent interview with Rio’s daily Jornal
do Brasil he said: "Before, in every bar party people would sing `Boemia, aqui me
tens de regresso…’ (Bohemia, you have me back here). Today everyone sings
"Garçon."" He also explained the popularity of the tune: "It
expresses in a simple way the drama that everyone from the trashman to the President faces
one day: the pain to be betrayed by the woman he loves."
With admitted flourishes for dramatic impact, Rossi introduces his songs on shows or
CDs with a text that explains the origin of the tune. Before singing "Garçon"
he tells that he used to be a "scoundrel who betrayed his little woman three times a
week" until he finds her in bed with Ronaldinho, who says: "I’ve already scored
15 goals." He doesn’t commit any violence against the man or the woman but goes to a
bar, where he composes the song, which gets the immediate verdict: "It will be a
To the press Rossi gives another version. According to it, he was once visited by a
singer friend who complained to be without money and to have been betrayed by his wife.
The song was done in three days. The composer felt he had a hit on his hands, but resisted
the temptation to sing it himself. But that’s what he ended up doing anyway when the
producer felt that his friend didn’t have the right voice for that kind of song.
The new version of "Garçon" released last year by Sony has already sold
around 300,000 copies. The CD also contains, among other tunes, "A Raposa e as
Uvas" (The Fox and the Grapes), French-titled "Mon Amour, Meu Bem, Ma
Femme" (My Love, My Sweetie, My Wife) and "Tô Doidão" (I’m Stir Crazy).
Rossi attributes his success to his sloppy way of doing his shows. "My show has no
scenario, no direction, no dancers. I get on stage not knowing what I am going to sing.
That’s why I’ve been singing for 30 years."
Garçon, aqui nessa mesa de bar
Waiter, here on this bar table
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