Julio Navarrine

Real name: Navarrine, Julio Plácido
Lyricist, composer, singer and actor
(20 December 1889 - 11 March 1966)
Place of birth:
Lincoln (Buenos Aires) Argentina
José Gobello
| Ricardo García Blaya

e was born and died in the city of Buenos Aires. In his youth he used to sing folk songs, preferably in a vocal duo with his brother Alfredo.

Navarrine’s lyrics do not evidence a great concern for literature. They were, in general, looking after the public acclaim by means of the easiest tools. However, with “Oro muerto”, this outstanding advertiser of the Argentine popular music conceived a beautiful genuine etching of the outskirts which deserves, undoubtedly, to be included in an anthology of the genre.

The Navarrine brothers formed and led the outfit Los de la Raza devoted to play folk dances and rural songs. It was lined up by Horacio Pettorossi, who later would join Carlos Gardel’s group; Juan Raggi, Humberto Piro, Carlos Chapella, José Verdi, Emilia Pettorossi, Raúl Fernández, Mario Melfi, Juan Bautista Deambroggio (Bachicha) and Celia Espinosa, aka La Nicaragüense. In 1923 they traveled to Spain where they appeared to great acclaim.

Julio wrote a large number of tango lyrics. I highlight some of them: “Trago amargo”, with music by Rafael Iriarte and committed to disc for the first time by Ignacio Corsini in 1925; “Por qué no has venido”, with Pedro Maffia’s music, recorded by Roberto Firpo as an instrumental and, by Carlos Gardel in 1925; “Sos de Chiclana”, with his brother Alfredo and with music by Rafael Rossi, and “Lechuza”, music and lyrics by Julio and Alfredo, both recorded by Gardel in 1927 and in 1928, respectively; and “A la luz del candil”, with music by Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores, recorded by Corsini in 1926 and Gardel the following year.

I think that the most important is “Oro muerto”, of 1926, written in collaboration with Juan Raggi. This piece was awarded at the Tango and Shimmy contest organized by the Compañía Rioplatense de Revistas held at the Teatro 18 de Julio of Montevideo. This tango was recorded by Raggi himself in Paris backed by the Bianco-Bachicha Orchestra and by Gardel in Buenos Aires in 1926.

Regarding the expression oro muerto, in the Lisandro Segovia’s Diccionario de Argentinismos, we can read: «Oro muerto. Fig. El de color pálido» (Dead gold: The one with pale color)(Buenos Aires, 1911, page 364). It turns out evident that the bureaucrats that then ruled radio stations had not read Segovia when they forced the change of title of the tango. Consequently we had to know it as “Jirón porteño”.