#20 – Rita Lee – Corista de rock

from Entradas & Bandeiras (Som Livre, 1976)

Original lyrics:

Disseram que o palco não é mais aquele lugar
Mas do jeito que a gente me olha de frente
Como eu vou parar?
Pois eu sou corista num grupo de rock
Que tem pra valer
Um ponto de vista que não se limita
De ser ou não ser
Prefiro ser os dois

Não venha me dizer do meu compromisso
Com isso ou aquilo
Se o que a gente quer
Não deixa de ser um belo motivo
Pra se festejar de modo indiscreto
O que vai nascer
E todas as estórias
Que o mundo imagina pra sobreviver
Prefiro não saber

O que eu era ou sou por enquanto
É tudo aquilo que eu digo e canto
Com um pouco de espanto
Num palco ou num canto

English ones:

They’ve said the stage is not what it used to be
But the way people stare at me
How can I stop?
Because I’m a singer in a rock group
One who has in earnest a point of view
Which is not limited to be or not to be
I’d rather be both

Don’t tell me about my commitment with this or that
If what we want is nothing more than a good reason
To party in an [indiscreto] way
What will be and all the stories that the world
Creates to itself just to survive
I’de rather do not know

What I was I am now
It’s everything that I say and sing
With a little [espanto]
In a stage or in a song

This is Rita Lee’s swan song of sorts, as after this 1976 album her style would soften and she would record mainly pop rock ballads, eschewing much of the creativity of her early career. Some people say that is because she married music producer Roberto de Carvalho. She is still an eccentric woman, but her music isn’t as adventurous as it was.

Anyways, this is great stuff and I think it reflects the overall tropicália take on Brazilian culture and history. As a rock album, it’s title is derived from the bandeirantes’ expeditions into Brazilian countryside during the colonial times. The bandeirantes were paulistas colonists who married and lived with the indigenous people of São Paulo (the São Vicente coast) coast and who went on to hunt and slave thousands of Indians, all the way adopting their way of life. A legendary view of the bandeirantes in Brazilian culture sees them as civilizing heroes who slayed the native’s bad habits and expanded Brazilian borders ‘till almost what it is today. Needless to say, they became integral part of Brazilian identity and especially the paulista identity.

Rita Lee not only adopts what this tradition says but also puts her in charge of it, so the bandeiras end up being a symbol for anthropophagy, the concept invented by the paulista Oswald de Andrade to say how a not-mainstream culture can relate to a mainstream culture. But now I’m getting too academic…

The title Entradas & bandeiras ended up on the cover of the third book written by exiled politician Fernando Gabeira reflecting on his exile experience. Gabeira is the author of O que é isso, companheiro?, the essential reading about the Brazilian guerrilla movement during the dictatorship years.



#19 – Luiz Tatit – Felicidade

from Felicidade (self-released?, 1997)

Original lyrics:

Não sei porque eu tô tão feliz
Não há motivo algum pra ter tanta felicidade
Não sei o que que foi que eu fiz
Se eu fui perdendo o senso de realidade
Um sentimento indefinido
Foi me tomando ao cair da tarde
Infelizmente era felicidade
Claro que é muito gostoso
Claro que eu não acredito
Felicidade assim sem mais nem menos é muito esquisito

Não sei porque eu tô tão feliz
Preciso refletir um pouco e sair do barato
Não posso continuar assim feliz
Como se fosse um sentimento inato
Sem ter o menor motivo
Sem uma razão de fato
Ser feliz assim é meio chato
E as coisas nem vão muito bem
Perdi o dinheiro que eu tinha guardado
E pra completar depois disso
Eu fui despedido e estou desempregado
Amor que sempre foi meu forte
Não tenho tido muita sorte
Estou sozinho, sem saída
Sem dinheiro e sem comida e feliz da vida

Não sei porque eu tô tão feliz
Vai ver que é pra esconder no fundo uma infelicidade
Pensei que fosse por aí, fiz todas terapias que tem na cidade
A conclusão veio depressa
Sem nenhuma novidade
O meu problema era felicidade
Não fiquei desesperado, não
Fui até bem razoável
Felicidade quando é no começo ainda é controlável

Não sei o que foi que eu fiz
Pra merecer estar radiante de felicidade
Mais fácil ver o que não fiz
Fiz muito pouca coisa aqui pra minha idade
Não me dediquei a nada
Tudo eu fiz pela metade
Por que então tanta felicidade?
E dizem que eu só penso em mim
Que sou muito centrado, que eu sou egoísta
Tem gente que põe meus defeitos
Em ordem alfabética e faz uma lista
Por isso não se justifica tanto privilégio de felicidade
Independente dos deslizes
Dentre todos os felizes sou o mais feliz

Não sei porque eu tô tão feliz
E já nem sei se é necessário ter um bom motivo
A busca de uma razão me deu dor de cabeça, acabou comigo
Enfim, eu já tentei de tudo
Enfim eu quis ser conseqüente
Mas desisti, vou ser feliz pra sempre
Peço a todos com licença
Vamos liberar o pedaço
Felicidade assim desse tamanho só com muito espaço.

Lyrics in English:

I don’t know why I’m so happy
There’s absolutely no reason for such happiness
I don’t know what I’ve done
If I’m losing touch with reality
An indefinite feeling
Came about the end of day
Unfortunately it was happiness
Of course I like it
Of course I don’t believe it
Such happiness for no reason surely is strange

I don’t know why I’m so happy
I need to think a little bit and get out of this high
I can’t keep happy like this
As if it was an innate feeling
Without a motive
Without a reason
Being happy like that is kinda boring
And things don’t even go well
I lost the money I’ve saved
And just to add
I’ve got fired and I’m unemployed
I always had luck in love
But I was strung by bad luck
I’m alone, without alternatives
No money, no food, and happy all the way

I don’t know why I’m so happy
Perhaps it is to conceal an intimate unhappiness
I thought I’d tried to get about it, see all the doctors in town
The conclusion came quickly
Without further novelty
My problem was happiness
It didn’t disappoint me though
I was even very reasonable
Happiness when it starts is still under control

I don’t know what I did
To deserve such vibrant happiness
It’s easier to see what I didn’t do
I did too little for my age
I haven’t dedicated myself to anything
I’ve always gave up things half way
Why such happiness?
And people say I only think about myself
That I’m too self-centered, that I’m egoistical
There’s people who picks my flaws
Put them in alphabetical order and make a list out of it
That’s why there’s no reason for such happiness
Besides my mistakes
Among the happy ones I’m the most happy of them

I don’t know why I’m so happy
And I don’t even need a good reason now
Searching for a reason gave me a headache
I’ve tried everything
I’ve tried to understand
But I gave up, I’m going to live happy forever after
Excuse me everyone
Let’s clear the spot
Happiness so big only with a lot of room around it

This is another take on happiness, and I find this one of the funniest lyrics I’ve ever seen. Luiz Tatit is singer, songwriter, poet and professor at USP in São Paulo (Brazil’s biggest university). In his youth, he participated in the local scene called “Vanguarda paulista” (Paulistan avant-garde), a bunch of artists and groups who explored novel ways to do the old Brazilian music. They came up during the same time as Brazilian new wave, but they went further, so I guess it’s alright to call them a Brazilian post-punk of sorts.

I don’t have much time to comment on them, but if you’re interested, check out the music of Itamar Assumpção and Arrigo Barnabé, that scene’s most famous names. Also Brazilian big name punk-inflected pop rock group Os Titãs also came from this music scene.

And enjoy your undeserved happiness!

PS: Luiz Tatit’s website has a lot of info, check it out and turn on the Google translator.

#18 – Gal Costa – Pontos de Luz

from Índia (Continental, 1973)

Original lyrics:

Me sinto contente
Me sinto muito contente
Me sinto completamente contente
Ouso dizer
Completamente contente

Me arrisco a falar
Me sinto feliz
Me sinto muito feliz
Me sinto completamente feliz
Ouso dizer
Completamente feliz.

In English:

I feel happy
I feel extremely happy
I feel completely happy
I dare to say
Completely happy

I dare to say
I feel happy
I feel extremely happy
I feel completely happy
I dare to say
Completely happy

Making a post in a hurry and fortunately, this one was easy.

This is from a 1973 album by tropicália-era darling Gal Costa. I don’t have much to say about, only that the album cover was censored by the Brazilian dictatorship (for some obvious reasons) and that the song is a composition by Jards Macalé and outsider poet Wally Salomão. Salomão was one of the most famous members of the “Poesia marginal” movement in Brazil in the seventies and one could think of him as a literary counterpart to the tropicalist movement in music.

As the song is about being always happy, tomorrow I’ll post another way of thinking about happiness, departing once again from the Brazil 70 compilation.

As a bonus, check this version recorded by Jards Macalé:

#17 – Almôndegas – Barca de Caronte

from Aqui (Continental, 1975).

Original lyrics:

Amigo vivo, não pise jamais este chão,
Você não sabe o que o espera
Você não sabe de não, você não sabe de nada
No fim desta estrada
Meu pai me falou um dia
O fim da vida inicia
Quem parte não volta mais.

No fim dessa estrada
Há um porto com sangue no chão,
Há um rio que navio algum quer navegar,
No cais deserto espera deitado
A negra barca aportar
Na pedra fria do porto,
Pousa a mala do mortos,
Desbotada de esperar.
Fim de tarde
O morto espera a saudade
Um grito agudo, um movimento
Anunciando o momento
Da negra barca aportar
Ruídos de remos n’água
O morto esquece a mágoa
Levanta a mala no ar.
Noite escura,
O vento sopra a amargura
Que espera além do horizonte
Chega a barca de Caronte
Chamando o morto ao pó.

The lyrics in English:

Living friend, don’t ever step this land,
You don’t know what awaits you
You don’t know, you don’t know anything,
My father said once
That at the end of this road
Begins the end of life
And who goes don’t ever come back.

At the end of this road,
There’s a harbour with blood on the floor
There’s a river where no boat will travel

At the deserted, abandoned pier
A body lies awaiting
For the black ship to dock

At the harbour’s cold stones
Sits the dead man’s suitcase
Its colours faded from waiting

End of day
The dead man awaits
A cry, a move
Announcing the moment
The black ship docks

Rowing sounds in the water
The dead man forgets his sorrows
Raises the suitcase in the air

Dark night,
The wind whispers the bitterness
That awaits beyond the horizon
Comes Charon’s boat
Calling the dead to dust

I’ve been waiting for this moment for a little while and I must say I kinda precipitated it, but it happens that Almôndegas is one of my favorite brazilian bands and the one that, at least for me, brings up the most beautiful solutions to the dilemas of making BRAZILIAN music in Southern Brazil. As you may know, South Brazil, especially the state where I live, Rio Grande do Sul, has a very distinct cultural identity than the rest of the country. There is even a separatist movement, although it is kinda hard to take it serious. This identity, however, always appear as something that distinguish us from the rest of the country.

Rio Grande do Sul was part of the Spanish territories in South America throughout much of its existence and it indeed share much of its culture with that of the gaúchos from the pampas of Uruguay and Argentina. Because of this, there is even a singer/songwriter, Vitor Ramil, who claimed a “cold aesthetics” to it, instead of the summer-blessed rest of Brazil.

Almôndegas comes up with a different solution, so I think. Instead of turning its back on Brazilian culture, they embrace the gaúcho identity and its music as part of the wide spectrum of what makes Brazil Brazil: its diversity. Formed in the mid-seventies, the band rose to fame during the heights of Brazilian “rock rural”, a kind of a movement which related rock music to the simpleness of country life, much like what The Band did with the Big Pink thing. Almôndegas took that and mixed with Southern rhythmns, like milonga, but also with samba, bolero, and everything else.

This song is not the best sample of their music, but as they’ll return here there will be other times when I’ll be able to present their lyrics.

Just two notes.

First, the band’s name translate as, yes, “meat balls”. Second, this band was the vehiclue for a later very famous duo in Brazilian music, Kleitor & Kledir, to appear. Kleitor & Kledir made a lot of “parents music”, so to speak, but as my own parents listened to it a lot, I’ve grown attached to it in some way.

PS: I’ll update the post later, as I’m about to travel, so you’ll have to wait for the song itself.

#16 – Nelson Angelo & Joyce – Vivo ou morto

from Nelson Angelo & Joyce (Odeon, 1972)

Original lyrics:

Debaixo das nove pedras
Ele vive muito bem
Vive como ninguém sabe por que
E respira o mesmo ar que você

Ele respira e fala
Pelas barcas do Inferno
Ele respira e fala
Pelas barcas do Inferno

Debaixo das nove parcas (?)
Ele mesmo se cala
Debaixo das nove barcas
Ele leva pés na sala (?)

E nas vielas da noite
A vida sempre é mais calma
A vida sempre é mais certa
Quando se pensa na morte

Translated ones:

Nine rocks below
He lives fine
He lives as nobody knows why
And he breaths the same air as you

He breaths and speaks
For the boats of Hell
He breaths and speaks
For the boats of Hell

Nine moirae bellow (?)
He shuts his mouth
Below the nine boats
He washes his feet (?)

And in the alleys at night
Life is always more serene
Life is always more certain
When you think about death

I didn’t knew Joyce had such a wonderful album. Once again, as a young Brazilian always tuned to the outside, I’d grow up with a lot of prejudice against some Brazilian artists. It is cool to find that this prejudice is unjustified. What a great album.

Joyce and Nelson Angelo were married when this album was recorded. Later she became somewhat of a staple singer on Brazil’s MPB and found more success in the 80’s.

I’ve had some trouble with the lyrics as I didn’t found them on any website, so I had to transcribe them by myself. I’m not good at this, so I have some doubts.

As of the translation, I’ve translated parcas for the moirae. The parcae, in Roman mythology, were the weavers of destiny, and the moirae were their Greek equivalent. So this is also a transmythological translation!

The subject seem to be about life and death, and the song’s title is just it: “Live or dead”. “Vivo ou morto” is also how in Portuguese we translate those Wild West calls for someone to be capture, live or dead.

As the song talks about Charon and his boat, tomorrow I’ll depart from the Soul Jazz compilation to present another song from this era which deals with the same subject.


PS: Below you’ll find the whole album to listen to.

#15 – Gilberto Gil – O canto da ema

from Expresso 2222 (Universal, 1972)

Original Portuguese lyrics:

A ema gemeu no tronco do juremá
Foi um sinal bem triste, morena
Fiquei a imaginar
Será que é o nosso amor, morena
Que vai se acabar?
Você bem sabe, que a ema quando canta
Traz no meio do seu canto um bocado de azar
Eu tenho medo, morena, eu tenho medo
Pois acho que é muito cedo
Pra essa amor acabar
Vem morena, vem, vem, vem
Me beijar, me beijar
Dá um beijo, dá um beijo
Pra esse mesmo, se acabar

In English:

The ostrich has moaned at the Jurema trunk
It was a sad, sad sign, girl
It made me wonder
Will our love ever end, girl?
You know that when the ostrich sings
It bring inside its song a whole lot of bad luck
I’m afraid, girl, I’m afraid
Because I think it’s too soon
For this love to end.
Come girl, come, come, come
Kiss me, kiss me,
Give me a kiss, give me a kiss,
So this kiss, this kiss itself can end

Sorry for the inactivity, readers. I won’t make promises, but I’ll try to reup this blog, after all is a great fun to keep it.

This one’s another from Gilberto Gil’s Expresso 2222 and another one from the Soul Jazz compilation. I didn’t know it before, but I liked a lot of it. Gil’ songs from this period are all great, period.

There are some cool stuff about the translation.

First one, the ema isn’t the ostrich, but another animal, very similar to it. People usually give one for another, but the ema is endemic to South America (ostriches inhabit Africa), it is slightly smaller than the ostrich and it has long wings, although it also doesn’t fly. I don’t know how emas are called in other countries, but I’ve found a Wikipedia link in English to it. I’ve translated ema as ostrich because of the similarities and also to avoid using too many Portuguese words in the translation.

As of the ema‘s singing, I don’t know anything about it. Perhaps it’s an Northeastern Brazilian tradition, probably of Native American origin. The same about the Jurema. Jurema is a large tree from the caatinga (Northeastern Brazil largest ecosystem)  and it is the source of a ritual drink used in some indigenous religious practices but which enjoys some popularity in Nordeste today. I know it is in Portuguese, but I’ve found this reference (again from Wikipedia) about it. (Jurema is a name given to a wide variety of trees derived from the Acácia which inhabit Northeastern Brazil, actually).

As anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro said, American natives’ greatest technological achievements were made in the field of biochemistry, as they know almost everything about every plant, tree, leaves or herbs from where they live. Usually the ceremonial drink from Brazil’s tupi-guarani groups, the largest Native American group in Brazil’s territory, is cauim, made from fermented cassava, but there is also santo daime (the same as ayahuasca), so the jurema must relate to it.

All this, of course, doesn’t say anything about the song, which is a beautiful, simple and earnest love song.

See ya.

#14 – Noite feliz + Bate o sino

Feliz Natal, everyone!

Today is Christmas eve and I’ve thought I should introduce the readers of this blog to two Brazilian Portuguese renditions of classic Christmas songs. I will also introduce you to an horrible recent Christmas tradition, but later I’ll say more about it…

The first song is “Silent Night”, also known as “Still night”, I guess. I looked up on Wikipedia and it says the original song comes from Austria, being composed in the early nineteenth century by an Austrian priest. In Brazil, the song received two versions, of by Pedro Sinzig in 1912 and the other one an anonymous and now more famous versions. Here, I’ll post only the first version, as I’ve never seen the second one and I guess it is only sung in Portugal.

Silent Night in Portuguese, 1912 version:

Noite feliz! Noite feliz!
o Senhor, Deus de amor,
pobrezinho nasceu em Belém.
Eis, na lapa, Jesus, nosso bem!
Dorme em paz, ó Jesus!
Dorme em paz, ó Jesus!

Noite feliz! Noite feliz!
Oh! Jesus, Deus da luz,
quão afável é teu coração
que quiseste nascer nosso irmão
e a nós todos salvar!
e a nós todos salvar!

Noite feliz! Noite feliz!
Eis que, no ar, vêm cantar
aos pastores os anjos dos céus,
anunciando a chegada de Deus,
de Jesus Salvador!
de Jesus Salvador!

English translation:

Happy night! Happy night!
The Lord, the God of love, poor one,
Has just been born in Bethlehem.
Here, in the manger, is our saviour!
Sleep well, Jesus!
Sleep well, Jesus!

Happy night! Happy night!
Oh Jesus, God of light,
How sweet is thy heart
That wanted to be born as our brother
And redeem us all!
And redeem us all!

Happy night! Happy night!
And so come from above
The angels to sing to the shepherds
Announing the Christ’s coming,
The coming of our Lord saviour Jesus Christ!
The coming of our Lord saviour Jesus Christ!

I got kinda scared with my English translation as it is hard not to make it sound like some apocalyptic hymn.

Also notice that the silent, still night becomes just a happy night, which translates into the song’s title “Noite feliz”. It is a happy night indeed, the night of the boa nova.

The second song is the Brazilian Portuguese version of Jingle Bells, translated as “Bate o sino” (Beats the bell). The Portuguse lyrics are as follows:

Jingle Bells in Portuguese:

Bate o sino pequenino, sino de Belém
Já nasceu Deus Menino para o nosso bem
Paz na Terra pede o sino alegre a cantar
Abençoe Deus Menino este nosso lar

Hoje a noite é bela, juntos eu e ela
Vamos à capela, felizes a rezar
Ao soar o sino, sino pequenino
Vai o Deus menino, nos abençoar.

Bate o sino pequenino, sino de Belém
Já nasceu Deus Menino para o nosso bem
Paz na Terra pede o sino alegre a cantar
Abençoe Deus Menino este nosso lar

Vamos minha gente, vamos à Belém
Vamos ver Maria e Jesus também
Já deu meia noite,já chegou Natal
Já tocou o sino lá na catedral

Abençoe Deus Menino este nosso lar

In English:

Beats the tiny little bell, the bell of Bethlehem,
The young Lord has already been born for the good of us all
Singing happily the tiny bell asks for peace on Earth,
May the young Lord bless this home of ours.

Tonight the night is beautiful, me and her together,
We’ll go to the chapel to pray happily,
When we hear the bell, the tiny little bell,
The young Lord will come to bless us.

Beats the tiny little bell, the bell of Bethlehem,
The young Lord has already been born for the good of us all
Singing happily the tiny bell asks for peace on Earth,
May the young Lord bless this home of ours.

Let’s go people, let’s go to Bethlehem,
Let’s see Mary and Jesus too,
It’s already past midnight, Christmas already is here,
The bell has already sounded on the cathedral.

May the young Lord bless this home of ours.

It’s nice to compare the original lyrics in English and the translated ones in Portuguese, I guess several cultural differences appear when you see when the translation matches and when it doesn’t.

Also, I’ve translated “Deus menino” as “young Lord”, but the literal translation should’ve been “Boy God”. Here in Porto Alegre there is a neighborhood called “Menino Deus”, and a friend of mine from Rio said that whenever she heard the neighborhood’s name, she thought of a young boy with superpowers. I guess that’s an accurate description of God, but as to avoid any funny misunderstandings, I’ve tried a serious translation of it.

So to the horrible tradition. It became somewhat of a tradition in southern Brazil at least to listen to or buy a CD by Simone, a very tacky Brazilian singer, in which she recorded only Christmas classics. It is dreadful stuff, but I’ll leave you with her rendition of Silent night.

Merry Christmas to you all!

#13 – Serguei – Eu sou psicodélico

from Eu sou psicodélico (Continental, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Eu sou psicodélico
(Eu sou psicodélico)
A vida para um hippie é mais vida
O mundo é uma flor
Sem espinhos e sem dor
Plantada com amor

Eu sou psicodélico
(Eu sou psicodélico)

Pra mim o universo é um jardim
Também quero ser assim
Azul, vermelho, amarelo, branco da paz!
A paz colorido bélico
Eu sou psicodélico
A paz colorido bélico
Eu sou psicodélico

Eu sou psicodélico
(Eu sou psicodélico)

A vida para um hippie é mais vida
O mundo é uma flor
Sem espinhos e sem dor
Plantada com amor

Eu sou psicodélico
(Eu sou psicodélico)

Translated lyrics:

I’m psychedelic
I’m psychedelic
Life for a hippie is more alive
The world’s a flower
Without stains and no pains
Seeded with love

I’m psychedelic
I’m psychedelic

For me the universe is a garden
I also wanna be like that
Blue, red, yellow, white peace
A colorful peace bellic
I’m psychedelic
A colorful peace bellic
I’m psychedelic

This one is a little treat to the readers of this blog. I thought I should start this post saying “they don’t show it on that super cool Brazilian compilation, don’t they?”. But maybe they have already showed it, I don’t know.

But anyway, it usually bothers me that when you look to Brazil in the 60s and 70s, especially with a foreign look, you get a really distorted vision of what people really enjoyed. Tropicália was well known, but it was an avant-garde style and most of its musicans softned over the years. People listened mostly to Jovem Guarda, some samba/soul that populated the TV. It is just like watching Austin Powers and asking yourself where the hell THAT 60s came. Well, those WERE the 60s. All that camp stuff was the 60s.

The same with Brazil. Serguei is a controversial figure in Brazilian music, he usually is not taken serious, even by himself, I guess. His main achievement in life, so he says, is that he slept with Janis Joplin in the United States in the late sixties. But considering Joplin’s looks, I must say I don’t know if that story is something to be bragging about (the story also says she was almost asleep). But Serguei is an irreverent figure and should be looked with more than contempt. So, if you want to listen to it, take a look at the video above.

I’m breaking out only once of Souljazz’s Brazil 70 compilation. Tomorrow I’ll come back to it.

Just to end it though, Serguei’s artistic name is a pun in Brazil. His actual name is Sergio, I guess, but Serguei sounds like the phrase “to be gay” in Portuguese, as the verb to be is ser. In the 60s, I must say this must have sounded way radical, perhaps we should recover his irreverence.

#12 – Jards Macalé – Farinha do desprezo

from Jards Macalé (Philips, 1972)

Portuguese lyrics:

Já comi muito da farinha do desprezo,
Não, não me diga mais que é cedo,
Hum, quanto tempo amor, quanto tempo tava pronta,
Que tava pronta da farinha do despejo.

Me jogue fora que na água do balde eu vou m’embora.

Só vou comer agora da farinha do desejo,
Alimentar minha fome pra que eu nunca me esqueça,
Ah como é forte o gosto da farinha do desprezo,
Só vou comer agora da farinha do desejo.

English lyrics:

I have already eaten too much of scorn’s flour
No, don’t tell me it is too son,
How much time, love, how much time it was ready
Scorn’s flour was ready

Throw me out and I’ll go away

I will only eat the flour scorn has left
To nourish my hunger so I’ll never forget
How strong tastes the scorn’s flour
Now I’ll only eat scorn’s flour

Oh Jards, Jards…This guy should be much more well known in Brazil than he is today, perhaps in the same level or only one step behind Caetano Veloso, Chico etc. This is a funny thing that happened to some of those 70s guys, just like Luiz Melodia, they were unclassifiable. In the case of Jards Macalé, you get one guy with a hell of a funny name who creates some very passionate and sophisticated songs but nonetheless comes not from Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Sul (where the celebrities all hang), but from the suburbs, the places where Rio de Janeiro loses its paradisaical touches to become of the most unfair cities in the world. Jards Macalé never lost his edge, so maybe this made him an uneasy figure in Brazilian cultural landscape.

Anyway, this one just got reissued internationally by Mr. Bongo, I think you should check it out.

As the lyrics, I can’t say exactly what is the scorn’s flour. Please, don’t tell me it is cocaine. It reminds me, though, of a Brazilian saying of someone eating the bread that the devil himself made or, in Portuguese, “comer o pão que o diabo amassou”. Here, the verb amassar stands for sovar, which is when you knead the lump before getting the bread on the oven. Comer o pão que o diabo amassou means to get the second or third option of something, to be left over, to be looked with scorn upon something.

#11 – Erasmo Carlos – Mané João

from Cachaça Mecânica (Polydor, 1976)

Original lyrics:

Lá na gafieira
De Mané João
Toda brincadeira
Acabou no chão
Tinha inimigo no meio do salão
Zé da Capoeira fazendo exibição

Tinha cabelo grande mas não tinha molho
Mané ficou de olho
Escondeu Margarida na cortina
E gritou ninguém transa com a menina
E só terminou a brincadeira
Com o sangue escorrendo na ladeira
E era muito sangue pra pouca ladeira
Lá na gafieira

Translated ones:

There in Mané João’s samba
All the fun went over
There were opponents on the floor
And Zé da Capoeira showing his skills

There was long hair but there wasn’t sauce
Mané kept an eye open
Daisy was hidden behind a curtain
And Mané shouted “nobody fucks the girl”
And the fun was over only when
Blood started falling the ladder
And it was a lot of blood for too few of ladder
There in the samba

I confess I didn’t know this one, but I liked it. I was never that much into Erasmo Carlos, although I have a knowledge of his musical partner Roberto Carlos through my family. The lyrics to this one are very heavy and from what I found it is an Erasmo Carlos’ original. I have found two earlier versions, the first one recorded by Wanderléa – the then Jovem Guarda’s ex-muse, so to say – and the other one by Téo Azevedo on a funky groovy version, both from 1972-1974 timespan:

Regarding the translation, perhaps you know the word “gafieira”. It means a small samba dance party, usually between people that know each other. I don’t know if the word is still in use in Rio de Janeiro (I guess not), but it somehow brings to mind old Rio and the world of malandros and meganhas. Mané is a semi-derogative way of relating to someone, usually it means the person in question is not someone you can trust, “he’s a mané”, he’s usually on shady business etc. But Mané was also the “title” associated with Garrincha, Mané Garrincha.

By the way, Brazil has recently lost Nilton Santos, Garrincha’s partner on that classic Botafogo squad from the 60s and one of the best football players in history, called Enciclopédia do Futebol (Football Encyclopedia) for what he could do with the ball, virtually everything. So I post a pic of him as a small tribute to this witness of a time when soccer really meant something: