#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.


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