Fagner and Gonzaguinha: a close relationship

On a statement given to reporter Rodrigo Faour, the singer tells why he fought his friend so many times and reveals that the songwriter left many songs for him

Rodrigo Faour
Gonzaguinha and I were buddies. I am his daughter Mariana’s godfather. He would drop by my place all the time, and we used to fight a lot, because he was stubborn and so am I. Among Gonzaguinha songs that I have recorded, Guerreiro Menino has a curious tale behind it. We were supposed to produce something together. So I passed on the atmosphere that I wanted and we should meet within a few days and finish the song. I worked on the melody and harmony and he surprised me by sending the song complete, with words and music. It was all right, because he was so good. But there is this fantastic story in the middle. Mariozinho Rocha was producing the album. He came down to my house to work and said: ‘Gonzaguinha has sent you a song.’ I said: ‘Yeah, and how is it?’, and he answered: ‘Oh, it is not very crafted. It isn’t worth it!’ I didn’t buy it and decided to listen to the song. We put it on my stereo. As I listened to it, I started crying and Mariozinho looked like an arse. Not only did I record it, but it was the first single out of the album.

On account of my having told that story on the radio, Mariozinho started to hate me. I am repeating this story so that he’ll never forget about it, because, as one of the most important producers in Brazil, he should recognize quality music. But I’d rather be boycotted by him for telling the truth than see a song like Guerreiro Menino being underrated. I am singing this song on May 1st. I always sing it on Labor Day.

The relationship with his father
Gonzaguinha wasn’t keen on giving autographs, he was too shy. We fought over that, too. We had loud fights in Ceará on account of the difficult relationship he had with his father. We invited him to participate in the first album I recorded with Luiz Gonzaga, but he didn’t show up at the studio. He claimed that it was about his dad and I. Which was true, but we wanted him in on it. Fortunately, he showed up for the second album, helped with the production and sang on it. We had a great friendship, mainly because we fought a lot and loved one another a lot.

A lot of funny things happened, and also very serious things.... One day before his passing on, he gave me a call, on Sunday, setting a meeting for Tuesday. He was going to Foz do Iguaçu and then he was going to cook me some pasta - he loved making pasta in my house. So he asked me to call his wife Lelete, and told me to ask her for a yellow notebook. Since he was tightfisted, I joked: ‘Are you sure you are paying for this phone call?’ (laughs) He answered: ‘Stop it!’ and insisted that Lelete bring the notebook to me.

The notebook was filled with songs, and below each one of them was the name of the singer that he wanted to give it to. After his death, Lelete, Elba Ramalho and myself went nuts. Elba wanted to record all of them. But most of them said ‘To Fagner’. And I recorded two, Saudade and Cavaleiro Solitário, which is a farewell song. Likewise, before dying, he wrote postcards to his son, saying goodbye. It’s amazing... I reckon Gonzaguinha was as good a songwriter as Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso and Tom Jobim. If he had let go of the lack of understanding, he would have been more respected. The media owes him a lot. I have just recorded Feliz on my new CD, arranged by Jotinha Moraes, who had worked with him.

(Besides Guerreiro Menino - Um Homem Também Chora, Fagner recorded Cavaleiro Solitário, Forró do Gonzagão, Preguiça, Saudade and Espere por Mim, Morena)

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