Conversa de Botequim

Lyrics from “Conversa de Botequim” by Noel Rosa and Vadico (1935)


Good Audio Version

Mister Waiter, do me a favor and bring me hurriedly
A good coffee that’s not reheated
Some bread, nice and warm, with plenty of butter
A napkin and a cup of chilled water
Close the door on the right, carefully,
As I’m not inclined to be exposed to the sun
And go ask your customer there the result of the football match.

If you go on cleaning the table, I’m not getting up nor will I pay the bill
Go ask your boss for a pen, an inkwell, an envelope and a card
Don’t forget to give me toothpicks, and a cigarette to scare the mosquitoes
Go tell the cigar maker to lend me some magazines, a lighter and an ashtray

Mister Waiter, do me a favor and bring me hurriedly
A good coffee that’s not reheated
Some bread, nice and warm, with plenty of butter
A napkin and a cup of chilled water
Close the door on the right, carefully,
As I’m not inclined to be exposed to the sun
And go ask your customer there the result of the football match.

Call, at least once, to three-four- four- three-three-three
And tell Mr. Osório to send me an umbrella here in our office
Mister Waiter, lend me some money, cause I left mine with the bicheiro
Go tell your manager to hang this tab on the hanger up front

Mister Waiter, do me a favor and bring me hurriedly
A good coffee that’s not reheated
Some bread, nice and warm, with plenty of butter
A napkin and a cup of chilled water
Close the door on the right, carefully,
As I’m not inclined to be exposed to the sun
And go ask your customer there the result of the football match.

— Interpretation —

Noel Rosa, known as “o poeta da Vila” – the poet from Vila Isabel.

Nearly eighty years after its release, “Conversa de Botequim” (roughly, bar talk) is still considered one of the most astute and poetic observations on carioca society in Brazilian popular music. Written by Noel Rosa, whom Ary Vasconcellos calls “without a doubt, the greatest name in samba carioca,” the song spiritedly satirizes a quotidian scene in Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s and 1930s that resonates today.

Noel Rosa c. 1936.

Noel Rosa (1910 – 1937) had a face that was badly deformed from an accident right after his birth.  Likely as a result, he spent much of his brief adult life in dimly lit bars and cafés in Rio de Janeiro, and became familiar with their clientele.  This song pokes fun at a customer who acts as if he owns the establishment just because he’s buying a measly coffee and bread. After making a litany of absurd requests of a waiter he addresses with a phony reverence, and referring to the bar as his “office,” the customer says he’s going to have to put the meal on his tab (from Portuguese, this line translates literally to “hang it on the hanger”) since he left his money with the bicheiro – the local boss of the Jogo do Bicho, a popular nationwide lottery allowing bets as low as a cent.

The character is Rosa’s depiction – or mild caricature – of the typical carioca malandro, the likes of which Rosa had little patience for. (The concept of the malandro is explained in this post.) The listener can infer that the character gets by day-to-day with this kind of idle talk and maybe some winnings from the Jogo do Bicho.

The song is also acclaimed for its perfectly matched syncopated melody, by Vadico.  And though many artists went on to record it, Zuza Homem de Mello and Jairo Severiano remark that Rosa’s recording (both versions above) is the best, “because he ‘speaks’ the lyrics with the same naturalness with which a malandro would give all of those orders to a bar waiter.”

Lyrics in Portuguese

Seu garçom, faça o favor de me trazer depressa
Uma boa média que não seja requentada
Um pão bem quente com manteiga à beça
Um guardanapo e um copo d’água bem gelada
Feche a porta da direita com muito cuidado
Que não estou disposto a ficar exposto ao sol
Vá perguntar ao seu freguês do lado
Qual foi o resultado do futebol

Se você ficar limpando a mesa
Não me levanto nem pago a despesa
Vá pedir ao seu patrão
Uma caneta, um tinteiro
Um envelope e um cartão
Não se esqueça de me dar palitos
E um cigarro pra espantar mosquitos
Vá dizer ao charuteiro
Que me empreste umas revistas
Um isqueiro e um cinzeiro

Seu garçom, faça o favor de me trazer depressa
Uma boa média que não seja requentada
Um pão bem quente com manteiga à beça
Um guardanapo e um copo d’água bem gelada
Feche a porta da direita com muito cuidado
Que estou disposto a ficar exposto ao sol
Vá perguntar ao seu freguês do lado
Qual foi o resultado do futebol

Telefone ao menos uma vez
Para três quatro, quatro, três, três, três
E ordene ao seu Osório
Que me mande um guarda-chuva
Aqui pro nosso escritório
Seu garçom me empresta algum dinheiro
Que eu deixei o meu com o bicheiro
Vá dizer ao seu gerente
Que pendure esta despesa
No cabide ali em frente

Seu garçom, faça o favor de me trazer depressa
Uma boa média que não seja requentada
Um pão bem quente com manteiga à beça
Um guardanapo e um copo d’água bem gelada
Feche a porta da direita com muito cuidado
Que não estou disposto a ficar exposto ao sol
Vá perguntar ao seu freguês do lado
Qual foi o resultado do futebol

Main sources for this post: A Canção no Tempo: 85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras, vol. 1: 1901 – 1957 by Zuza Homem de Mello and Jairo Severiano (1997), and Panorama da Música Popular Brasileira, vol. 2, by Ary Vasconcellos (1964)

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About lyricalbrazil

My name is Victoria Broadus and in early 2012 I moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Brazil - first São Paulo, and now Rio de Janeiro. I began studying Portuguese while working toward a Master's degree in Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, and have since become fluent. I love Brazilian music and want to be able to share it with more people, so I'm working on translating songs to English and providing some contextual interpretation and stories about the songs and the musicians.
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