Gaspar Astarita

round the late 30s the name of Francisco Gorrindo reached, suddenly, a great reputation, as a consequence of the appearance of a series of tangos whose lyrics were immediately included into the popular ear and feeling.

Sententious, persuading lyrics, because they were conveyed with a direct, touching and plain language, and even though they evidenced disbelief and pointed out at injustice, this material caused a striking impact between 1936 and 1940. And all that had been originated in the pen of this poet from Quilmes, at that period standing as a would-be boom.

Those hits were "Las cuarenta", "Paciencia", "Mala suerte", "Gólgota", "La bruja", "Ansiedad", to mention only the pieces that sprung up almost one after the other during that short period.

Notwithstanding the great popularity of that work, little is known about its author, Pancho Gorrindo. Even though his total output comprehends nearly seventy titles and it is somewhat uneven, several compositions stand out and easily surpass the standard level and, among these, "Las cuarenta" is the one which most identifies the author and the one which has reached the category of classic. But we insist, behind "Las cuarenta" there are many others that are acceptable which we will try to detail in this work.

Froilán Francisco Gorrindo was born in Quilmes (a suburb of the city of Buenos Aires), on October 5, 1908, and there he spent all his life. At a middle class home, he was influenced, educated and supported, besides his mother, by his old aunts, because he lost his father at a very early age. And especially he was taught a strict conduct he assimilated morally and spiritually, because he was formally attracted by the street, where even though he acquired a fast experience of life, he assimilated, at the same time, the taste for bohemian life and mad escapades, night habits and practices of which he was unable to get rid of even when he raised his own family.

Tall, thin, he always wore those wide dark bow ties, typical in the popular poets of those years. Easygoing, friendly, a mixture of man from the outskirts and man from paved roads, he easily wandered through the circles of night business, with his customary good fellowship, irradiating affection and fondness.

Although he only attended grammar school, that did not hinder his vocation for literature, and his sharp instinct for observation and his rebelliousness drove him to poetry, where he found the suitable field of expression to react and record his opinion with deep emphasis. In his message there was rigor and harshness, but also depth and skepticism.

There are different stages of creation in Francisco Gorrindo´s career as author. The first one corresponds to his beginnings, a little bit after he was 20 years old. To that period, a bit undecided and influenced by the great artists of the genre, belongs his first tango "Perdón de muerta", with music by the guitarist Pablo Rodríguez, which would be immediately recorded by the latter´s wife, the singer Mercedes Simone, on February 11, 1931.

Belonging to that period we also have "Miserere" (with Miguel Padula´s music), "Vida perra" (with Rafael Rossi), recorded by Francisco Canaro in 1933, "Disfrazate hermano" (with Antonio Bonavena) and some other numbers more which did not become popular.

The second stage –the happiest and most successful- began in 1936 and lasted nearly up to the end of the decade. Although some of those lyrics might have been created before, but were waiting for a composer and interpreter suitable to launch them. Let us remember as well that at that time he married Emma Lepanti, with whom he had three children.

The beginning of this stage is marked by "Triste domingo", a translation Gorrindo made, together with the musician Julio Rosenberg, of the composition by Rezso Seress with original lyrics by Laszlo Javor, a song which has a quite beautiful rendition made by Mercedes Simone.

Almost simultaneously "Las cuarenta", with music by Roberto Grela, was released, sung for the first time by Fernando Díaz on a tour throughout the interior of the country and later on Radio Belgrano of Buenos Aires and subsequently was sung by Azucena Maizani at the Teatro Nacional.

Immediately it was recorded by prestigious interpreters: Charlo, the orchestra of Francisco Lomuto with the singer Jorge Omar, Francisco Canaro with the voice of Roberto Maida and the excellent singer Alberto Serna accompanied by the guitars led by the composer of the tango, Roberto Grela.

With this work, Gorrindo´s name quickly reached a wide popularity, and the disc recordings and his fame went beyond our borders.

Also in the early 1937, Charlo recorded another beautiful tango of his, titled "Novia", with music by Francisco Rofrano. In these verses there is neither skepticism, nor harshness, nor rebelliousness. They belong to another subject-matter –that of love and hope- that he successfully approached as well.

By that time, Gorrindo achieved a close relationship with Juan D'Arienzo´s orchestra, whose performances had reached an enormous popularity. He was closely linked to its leader and several musicians of the formation, which was the vehicle for making many of his tangos be known.

Gorrindo delivered the lyrics of his tango "Paciencia" precisely to The Rey del Compás, D'Arienzo composed its music and recorded it immediately, with Enrique Carbel´s vocals on October 29, 1937, with which he achieved another hit. Later he would record it again with the vocals of Alberto Echagüe (twice) and Horacio Palma.
Agustín Magaldi recorded it in January 1938, a few months before dying, resulting in the definitive bridge towards success.

The year 1938 meant for Pancho Gorrindo another successful segment of his career as author. From the start, he wrote a very nice tango, "Dejame ser así", with music by Enrique Rodríguez, who recorded it with his orchestra and the singer Roberto Flores. On June 28, always in 1938, Mercedes Simone recorded Gorrindo´s beautiful song, "Verano", with music by Joaquín Mauricio Mora. And immediately after three other hits: "Gólgota", a pretty tango with the pianist Rodolfo Biagi´s music, who committed it to record with Teófilo Ibáñez´s voice. Always in 1938, the same tango was recorded on another disc, this time by Francisco Lomuto´s group singing Jorge Omar. And soon afterwards, a singer of striking popularity at that time, Héctor Palacios, native from Rosario, recorded it.

Later, another tango and another hit: "La bruja", with the music of the pianist Juan Polito, recorded by D'Arienzo with Alberto Echagüe´s vocals. Angel Vargas recorded this same piece with guitars a little bit later.

Soon afterwards, another sample of his inspiration, "Ansiedad", a tango musicalized by a bandoneonist of D'Arienzo´s orchestra, Domingo Moro. And he brightly closed this second period as author, in 1939, with "Mala suerte", tango with music by Francisco Lomuto, who immediately recorded it with Jorge Omar. Later Charlo would sing it.

To the same period belongs another tango with D'Arienzo: "Dos guitas", he recorded it with Alberto Echagüe.

Of the third period, from the forties on, only a few numbers stood out. One of them is "La vida es corta", with music by Ricardo Tanturi who committed it to record with Alberto Castillo´s vocals. And in the mid- 40s, another tango very important: "Magdala", with music of his great friend Rodolfo Biagi. First recorded by D'Arienzo with Armando Laborde and later by Biagi himself with Jorge Ortiz.

There are some other titles with worthwhile lyrics, but we insist, his best time was gone.

Froilán Francisco Gorrindo always lived in Quilmes, his life was spent going to and coming from Buenos Aires downtown, with nights and daybreaks in the middle, wearing away in a nearly daily contact with the city music environments and carrying out his task as municipal employee.

He died of a painful ailment on January 2, 1963, but his poems, his tangos and a street of his beloved Quilmes are keeping his memory. With them Francisco Gorrindo always comes back: "Vieja calle de mi barrio / donde he dado el primer paso / vuelvo gastado el mazo / en inútil barajar." (Old street of my neighborhood/ where I walked for the first time/ I come back with my pack worn out / by useless shuffling).
And he will return, besides, because with simplicity and feeling he knew how to express a whole period of tango, which he felt and lived running through its drinks and its nights, on which he vibrated with the strings of an true popular poet.