Lupicínio Rodrigues: “Eu não sou de reclamar” – “Nervos de aço” – “Não sou louco” – “Vingança” – “Caixa de Ódio” – “Cadeira Vazia”

“Eu não sou de reclamar” (1952)



Eu não sou de reclamar // I’m not one to complain
Eu não sou // I’m really not
Mas o que estou sofrendo // But what I’m suffering
É demais // Is just too much
Nos lugares onde eu vou // In the places I go
Quem conhece quem eu sou // Anyone who knows who I am
Diz que sou o mais covarde dos mortais // Says I’m the most cowardly of all mortals
E queriam que eu matasse // And they thought I should kill
O crime não compensa // But crime doesn’t pay
Só Deus dá a sentença // Only God gets the final say
ao pecador. // over the sinner
Se eu matasse não podia esperar // If I killed, I wouldn’t be able to look forward to
Ver algum dia // Some day seeing
As lágrima cruéis do meu amor // The cruel tears of my love

Se queriam que eu matasse // If they wanted me to kill
O crime não compensa // Crime doesn’t pay
Só Deus dá a sentença  // Only God gets the final say
ao pecador // over the sinner


“Nervos de aço” (1947)


Você sabe o que é ter um amor, meu senhor? // Do you know what it is to have a love, my fellow?
Ter loucura por uma mulher // Be mad about a woman
E depois encontrar esse amor, meu senhor // And then find that woman, my fellow
Ao lado de um tipo qualquer? // By the side of some nobody?
Você sabe o que é ter um amor, meu senhor // Do you know what it is to have a love, my fellow?
E por ele quase morrer // And nearly die for that love
E depois encontrá-lo em um braço // And then find her in an arm
Que nem um pedaço do seu pode ser?// That can’t be even a little bit yours?
Há pessoas de nervos de aço // There are people with nerves of steel
Sem sangue nas veias e sem coração // Without blood in their veins, without hearts
Mas não sei se passando o que eu passo // But I don’t know if, going through what I’m going through
Talvez não lhes venha qualquer reação // It’s possible they wouldn’t have a reaction
Eu não sei se o que trago no peito // I don’t know if what I have in my chest
É ciúme, é despeito, amizade ou horror // Is jealousy, spite, friendship or horror
Eu só sei é que quando a vejo // I only know that when I see her
Me dá um desejo de morte ou de dor // It fills me with a desire for death or pain


“Não sou louco” (1950)



Eles me chamam de louco // They call me crazy
Porque eu bebo, senhor // Because I drink, oh lord
Depois que bebo saio na rua // And after I drink I go out in the street
Gritando por meu amor // Screaming for my love
Louco, não senhor!  // Crazy, no sir!
Eu não sou louco! // I’m not crazy!
É que um coração magoado // It’s just that an injured heart
Não fala baixo nem bebe pouco // Doesn’t speak softly or drink lightly
Se eles soubessem a minha situação // If they only knew my situation
O quanto me custa aturar o meu coração… // How hard it is to stand my heart
Iriam compreender que eu não sou louco! // They would understand that I’m not crazy
É que um coração magoado // It’s just that an injured heart
Não fala baixo nem bebe pouco // Doesn’t speak softly or drink lightly

“Vingança” (1951)


Eu gostei tanto, // I was so, so pleased
Tanto quando me contaram // When they told me
Que lhe encontraram // That they found her
Bebendo e chorando // Drinking and crying
Na mesa de um bar // At a bar table
E que quando os amigos do peito // And when close friends
Por mim perguntaram // Asked about me
Um soluço cortou sua voz, // A sob strangled her voice
Não lhe deixou falar.// Didn’t let her speak
Eu gostei tanto,// I was so, so pleased
Tanto, quando me contaram // When they told me
Que tive mesmo de fazer esforço // That I actually had to make an effort
Prá ninguém notar // For no one to notice
O remorso talvez seja a causa // Maybe remorse is the cause
Do seu desespero // Of her despondency
Ela deve estar bem consciente // She’s got to be well aware
Do que praticou, // Of what she’s done
Me fazer passar tanta vergonha // Humiliating me
Com um companheiro // With a friend
E a vergonha // And shame
É a herança maior que meu pai me deixou; // Is the greatest inheritance my father left me
Mas, enquanto houver força em meu peito // But as long as there’s strength in my chest
Eu nao quero mais nada // I want nothing more –
Só vingança, vingança, vingança // Only revenge, revenge, revenge
Aos santos clamar // Imploring the saints
Ela há de rolar como as pedras // She’s sure to roll like the stones
Que rolam na estrada // That roll down the road
Sem ter nunca um cantinho de seu // Without ever having their own little home
Pra poder descansar // To take rest in


“Caixa de ódio” (first recording – 1966)


Tem coisas que as vezes tão fácil julgamos // There are things we sometimes think are so easy
Que até nos achamos capaz de fazer // That we even feel we could do them
Até num coqueiro as vezes trepamos depois não achamos por onde descer // We even climb up a coconut tree, and then can’t find the way down
Um arranhãozinho uma simples batida //A little scratch, a light blow
Tem feito ferida capaz de matar // Have caused wounds that can kill
Por isso que eu sempre vos disse querida // That’s why I’ve always told you, dear
Que a gente na vida deve se cuidar // That in life, we need to take care
Você por exemplo jamais pensaria // You, for example, would never have thought
Que uma fantasia em um carnaval // That a Carnaval capriccio
Um simples prazer de uma noite de orgia // The simple pleasure of a night of revelry
Pudesse algum dia causar tanto mal // Could cause such ruin one day
Matar um amor que já tem tantos anos // Killing a love that’s lasted so many years
Criar um inferno dentro do seu lar // Creating a hell in your own home
Fazer do meu peito uma caixa de ódio // Making, of my chest, a box of scorn
Como um coração que não quer perdoar // Like a heart that won’t forgive  (2x)

“Cadeira vazia” (Lupicínio Rodrigues & Alcides Gonçalves, 1950)


Entra meu amor fique a vontade // Come in, my love, make yourself at home
E diz com sinceridade o que desejas de mim // And tell me, with sincerity, what you want from me
Entra podes entrar a casa é tua // Come in, you can come in, the house is yours
Já que cansaste de viver na rua // Now that you’ve grown weary of living a vagrant life
E os teus sonhos chegaram ao fim // And your dreams have come to an end
Eu sofri demais quando partiste // I suffered so much when you left
Passei tantas horas tristes // I spent so many morose hours
Que não gosto de lembrar esse dia // That I don’t like to remember that day
Mas de uma coisa pode ter certeza // But you can be sure of one thing
Teu lugar aqui na minha mesa // You have a place here at my table
Tua cadeira ainda está vazia // Your chair is still empty
Tu es a filha pródiga que volta // You’re the prodigal daughter who returns
Procurando em minha porta // Seeking at my door
O que o mundo não te deu // What the world didn’t provide you
E faz de conta que eu sou o teu paizinho // And you make believe I’m your daddy
Que há tanto tempo aqui ficou sozinho // Who’s  been alone here for so long
A esperar por um carinho teu // Waiting for your love
Voltaste estás bem, estou contente // You’ve come back, you’re well- I’m content
Só me encontraste um pouco diferente // You’ve just found me a little different
Vou te falar de todo coração // I’ll tell you, with all my heart
Não te darei carinho nem afeto // I won’t give you love or affection
Mas pra te abrigar podes ocupar meu teto // But for shelter you may stay under my roof
Pra te alimentar podes comer meu pão // And for nourishment you may eat my bread (2x)

— Commentary —

Lupicinio is still known as the

Lupicínio is still known as the “Criador do dor-de-cotovelo” – the creator – or God – of songs about jealousy and heartache.

Lupicínio Rodrigues was born in the poor neighborhood of Ilhota, Porto Alegre, on a rainy September 16, 1914. He was an unlikely dark-skinned samba composer in the overwhelmingly white southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, far-removed from the samba stronghold of Rio de Janeiro.  And while his soft-spoken, pleasant demeanour won him many friends, but it was the bitter broken-heartedness of his lyrics that won him fans across Brazil beginning in the late 1930s. His lyrics were so rawly evocative of the writhing of love gone bad that he earned the eternal appellation of “God of dor-de-cotovelo”  — the sentiment that translates literally to elbow pain, and encapsulates the mixture of disconsolateness,  jealousy, spite and confused affection that tends to follow romantic disillusionments. (Elbow pain because of too much time hunched on one’s elbows, head in hands.)

As I wrote in this previous post, through Lupicínio, the expression came to define a musical genre that expresses and even aggrandizes such suffering. Carlos Rennó says in his profile of the singer, “It’s been said that in all of Lupicínio Rodrigues’s songs, he either betrays or is betrayed.” And according to Lupicínio, whose commentary was published in Augusto de Campos‘s  book Balanço da Bossa, everything he sang about was “the truth – my life.”

Lup_PortoAlegreIndeed, in the 1970s, Lupicínio said he wasn’t even sure why he earned his nickname  but he remembered that when he had a program on Radio Record, everyone would be in tears when he finished, so the host naturally began to refer to him as “god of the dor-de-cotovelo.” Again, his measured, no-frills explanation was that he “was, in fact, suffering a lot at the time.”

Lupicínio’s first hit was the 1938 samba “Se acaso você chegasse,” which also happens to be one of his few more upbeat sambas. The song reportedly made its way from Porto Alegre to Rio de Janeiro by the mouths of sailors, and Lupicínio used to say he was shocked when he heard his song in Porto Alegre, floating in on the radio waves from Rio de Janeiro. A year later, suffering from breakup, Lupicínio went to spend a few months in Rio de Janeiro, where he briefly became a fixture in the city’s samba nightlife, and got to know singers like Francisco Alves, who would go on to record many of his greatest successes.

Lupicínio liked to say there were two types of dor-de-cotovelo: State and Federal. “State” dor-de-cotovelo came when you met someone for a “love for a night,” and then felt longing for them later on; federal was something deeper — the pain “we never forget, that we carry with us forever”: He says “Vingança” expresses an “eternal dor-de-cotovelo” of his. It’s also the kind of pain he expresses in “Nervos de aço,” which he wrote after finding his first fiancée in the arms of another man.

“Cadeira vazia” was written, he recounted, for a girl who had left Rio Grande do Sul to go to Rio de Janeiro but wrote a letter (to him, presumably) saying how much she missed home; he responded with the song.

He was such a specialist in his art of this kind of southern Brazilian blues that even more than forty years after his death, and with only about one hundred compositions to his name, his works continue to be re-interpreted and released by contemporary Brazilian singers like Arrigo Barnabé, who released the album Caixa de ódio, with only Lupicínio’s songs, and Arnoldo Antunes, who released Lupicínio’s “Judiária” in a hard-rock adaptation.  Among the “old guard,” two of the most celebrated and appropriate singers of Lupicínio’s songs are Elza Soares, who did a Lupicínio tour in 2014, for his centenary, and Jamelão. The withering raw emotion of Lupicínio’s songs went out of vogue during the age of Bossa Nova and the politically wrought years of the dictatorship, but has swung back in full force, a tribute to Lupicinío’s expert expression of the timeless traits of romantic suffering.

On August 27, 1974, Lupicínio  – known affectionately as Lupi – died from heart failure. It was a dreary, rainy day, similar to the day he was born. He was 59.

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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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