#35 – Caetano Veloso – Hino ao Senhor do Bonfim

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circensis (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

glória a ti neste dia de glória
glória a ti redentor que há cem anos
nossos pais conduziste à vitória
pelos mares e campos baianos

desta sagrada colina
mansão da misericórdia
dai-nos a graça divina
da justiça e da concórdia

glória a ti nessa altura sagrada
és o eterno farol, és o guia
és, senhor, sentinela avançada
és a guardo imortal da bahia.

dessa sagrada colina
mansão da misericórdia
dai-nos a graça divina
da justiça e da concórdia

aos teus pés que nos deste o direito
aos teus pés que nos deste a verdade
trata e exulta num férvido preito
a alma em festa da nossa cidade

desta sagrada colina
mansão da misericórdia
dai-nos a graça divina
da justiça e da concórdia

Translated lyrics:

Thy glory on this glorious day
Thy glory our redeemer that
Since a century ago led our fathers
To victory through the seas and fields
Of Bahia

From this sacred hill
House of mercy
Give us the divine grace
Of peace and justice

Thy glory at this sacred height
You’re the everlasting guiding light
You’re the guide, you are, Lord,
The sentinel, you are the eternal
Guardian of Bahia

From this sacred hill
House of mercy
Give us the divine grace
Of peace and justice

At your feet that gave us the right
At your feet that give us truth
Cure and rejoice in our faithful service
The celebrating soul of your city

The final track of the album couldn’t be more traditional (at least in its source). It’s like Caetano Veloso and the Tropicalists are reasserting that they come — most of them, at least — from a specific place: Bahia. It’s the Bahian invasion to Southern Brazil!

This hymn was composed in 1923 by Arthur Salles e João. It is both a religious as a politically official composition, serving as a state hymn to Bahia. It was composed to celebrate the Igreja Nosso Senhor do Bonfim, or, in a translation, Church of Our Lord of the Good Death (bom fim meaning “good end”), the largest church in the city of 365 churches.

——————————-

I hope you have enjoyed the ride through Tropicália. It will surely continue, but only after Carnival. Because, you know, the year only starts after Ash Wednesday.

 

#34 – Gal Costa – Mamãe, Coragem (1968)

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circensis (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
A vida é assim mesmo
Eu fui embora
Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
Eu nunca mais vou voltar por aí
Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
A vida é assim mesmo
Eu quero mesmo é isto aqui

Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
Pegue uns panos pra lavar
Leia um romance
Veja as contas do mercado

Pague as prestações
Ser mãe
É desdobrar fibra por fibra
Os corações dos filhos
Seja feliz
Seja feliz

Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
Eu quero, eu posso, eu quis, eu fiz
Mamãe, seja feliz
Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
Não chore nunca mais, não adianta
Eu tenho um beijo preso na garganta

Eu tenho um jeito de quem não se espanta
(Braço de ouro vale 10 milhões)
Eu tenho corações fora peito
Mamãe, não chore
Não tem jeito
Pegue uns panos pra lavar
Leia um romance
Leia “Alzira morta virgem”
“O grande industrial”

Eu por aqui vou indo muito bem
De vez em quando brinco Carnaval

E vou vivendo assim: felicidade
Na cidade que eu plantei pra mim
E que não tem mais fim
Não tem mais fim
Não tem mais fim

Translated ones:

Mother, mother, don’t cry
That’s how life is
I need to go

Mother, mother, don’t cry
I’ll never come back
Mother, mother, don’t cry
That’s how life is
What I want is really this

Mother, mother, don’t cry
Take some clothes to wash
Read a novel
See the grocery bill

Pay the installments
To be a mother means
Unravelling little by little
Your son’s hearts
Be happy
Be happy

Mother, mother, don’t cry
I want it, I can make it, I wanted it, I did it
Mother, be well
Mother, mother, don’t cry
Don’t you cry ever more, it doesn’t help
I have a kiss stuck in my throat

I’m not easily scared
(A gold arm is worth 10 million bucks)
I have a heart and a chest
Mother, don’t cry
It doesn’t help
Take some clothes to wash
Read a novel
Read “Alzira, the dying virgin”
Or “The great industry man”

Here I’m doing quite fine
Once in a while I party

And that’s how I live: with joy
At the city I’ve created myself
And that doesn’t have an end
It doesn’t have an end
It doesn’t have an end

Second Gal Costa cut from the album. This one was composed by Caetano Veloso and Torquato Neto, whose “Tropicalism for Beginners” we have already read before. I don’t have much to say about it, except that it’s a beautiful track.

Tomorrow I’ll end the album (yes, I know, “Geléia Geral” is still missing) and in the first days of the next week I’ll make a Carnival special. After all, there is nothing so much Brazilian as a good Carnival.

#33 – Os Mutantes – Bat Macumba

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circensis (Philips, 1968)

Lyrics:

Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba oh
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macum
Bat Macumba ê ê, Batman
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat
Bat Macumba ê ê, Ba
Bat Macumba ê ê
Bat Macumba ê
Bat Macumba
Bat Macum
Batman
Bat
Ba
Bat
Bat Ma
Bat Macum
Bat Macumba
Bat Macumba ê
Bat Macumba ê ê
Bat Macumba ê ê, Ba
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat
Bat Macumba ê ê, Batman
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macum
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba oh
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá!

No sense in translating this one, but I still find it one of the most amazing lyrics to any of these songs we’re dealing with. As you can see, the lyrics make a pattern; in fact, it is like half of the Brazilian flag. In this sense, it comes very close to Brazilian concretist poetry.

I’ve mentioned earlier the “Beba Coca-Cola” poem by Décio Pignatari. This one is similar. The concretist movement (not to confuse it with the musique concrète genre) rose to prominence in the mid-fifties when a bunch of intellectuals in São Paulo started experimenting with words and shapes. Their goal was to abolish the distinction between form and content, so in poetry they expressed themselves usually by making visual poems (later, Ferreira Gullar perfected the form) and relying heavily on word-play. It’s like they tried to use Western poetry to create ideograms (not unlike what Pound made using real ideograms in his works).

The cool thing is that concretismo had a pictorial branch too. It came to Brazil after World War II, when Brazil, through the São Paulo Biennials,  started to keep up the pace with European art. Some central European painters like Max Bill exhibited their works in São Paulo and it attracted a lot of attention. So Brazilian painters adopted and developed the concretism idiom, making geometrical works where the form is indistinct from the content and where the painter’s subjectivity is — at least they thought — almost null. It’s like they were trying to reach a point zero for painting. Painter Ivan Serpa (1923-1973), for instance, was one of those that adopted this style, as were Brazilian big-names like Alfredo Volpi (1896-1988) and Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980).

gouache-1956.jpg!Blog

What is interesting is that, while the concretos were based in São Paulo, towards the end of the 50s, the carioca (i.e., based in Rio de Janeiro) also started to develop ideas related to it. They founded the neoconcretista movement, in which the languages of abstraction were put in touch with the question of the viewer’s role in art and taking the painting from the canvas and bringing it to space, almost transforming it into a performance. Lygia Clark (1920-1988) and, once again, Hélio Oiticica were two members of this movement.

Lygia-Clark-Bicho-DSC0344

2430

I don’t know if all this was in Gil’s head when he “composed” Bat Macumba, but it’s some of the things we can think of to better understand it.

And by the way, I didn’t mentioned, but macumba are the public offerings made to the orixás in umbanda and candomblé traditions in Brazil.

#32 – Chico Buarque – A Banda (1966)

from Chico Buarque de Holanda (RGE, 1966)

Original lyrics:

Estava à toa na vida
O meu amor me chamou
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

A minha gente sofrida
Despediu-se da dor
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

O homem sério que contava dinheiro parou
O faroleiro que contava vantagem parou
A namorada que contava as estrelas parou
Para ver, ouvir e dar passagem

A moça triste que vivia calada sorriu
A rosa triste que vivia fechada se abriu
E a meninada toda se assanhou
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

Estava à toa na vida
O meu amor me chamou
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

A minha gente sofrida
Despediu-se da dor
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

O velho fraco se esqueceu do cansaço e pensou
Que ainda era moço pra sair no terraço e dançou
A moça feia debruçou na janela
Pensando que a banda tocava pra ela

A marcha alegre se espalhou na avenida e insistiu
A lua cheia que vivia escondida surgiu
Minha cidade toda se enfeitou
Pra ver a banda passar cantando coisas de amor

Mas para meu desencanto
O que era doce acabou
Tudo tomou seu lugar
Depois que a banda passou

E cada qual no seu canto
Em cada canto uma dor
Depois da banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor
Depois da banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor…

Trying to translate them to English:

I had nothing to do
My love called me
To see the band parade
Singing love songs

My suffered people
Shed away their pain
To see band go through
Singing love songs

The serious man counting money
The big mouthed one that tried to take advantage of others
The girlfried looking at the sky
They all stop to see, to listen and to let the band pass

The sad girl that never said a word
The sad rose that was always closed
And all the boys in the street
They all gathered to see the band pass
Singing love songs

I had nothing to do
My love called me
To see the band parade
Singing love songs

My suffered people
Shed away their pain
To see band go through
Singing love songs

The weak one man forgot his suffering and thought
That he was still a young man and left
To dance on the terrace
The ugly lady stopped by the window
Thinking the band played only for her

The joyful parade spread through the avenue
And continued ‘till the moon appeared
The city was all decorated
To see the band pass singing love songs

But for my disappointment
What was good was over
Everything went back to normal
After the band went through

And everyone at their places
In every place a misery
After the band went through
Singing love songs
After the band went through
Singing love songs

As I’ve said yesterday, I don’t how this blog went so long without a Chico Buarque song. Buarque is the chief lyricist in MPB and — I dare to say — a better lyrics than Bob Dylan even, although Bob Dylan is a much more relevant figure in pop music for the last half-century. Anyway, his lyrics are so well-crafted, the wordplay is so intense and creative, and they can convey such feelings and brilliancy that they are amazing.

There’s some of a rivalry in press and in the listener’s hearts between Chico Buarque and Caetano Veloso. Both are the biggest names in Brazilian music that came in the end of the 60s. Caetano was the crazy guy, and Chico was the respectable one. Chico Buarque never went through such mad phases as Caetano and his music surely is less “experimental”, in a sense that his relationship to the whole Tropicália thing is not so strong, or he is not even placed among the Tropicalists.

This may has to do with his lineage. Buarque comes from a very traditional and respected family of intellectuals, which includes his father, Sergio Buarque de Holanda, who authored Raízes do Brasil, and Aurélio Buarque de Holanda, who lend his name to a famous Brazilian Portuguese dictionary, the Aurélio. His sister is the singer Miúcha and even now you can still see popping up sometimes one or two Buarque de Holanda in culture-related jobs.

This song was the one that made him famous. It is about a band, probably a military band as they were usually army band those days, that comes to a town, makes everyone forget their worries and then leaves, leaving nothing behind. The song has obvious political undertones, but it’s melody quickly made it famous even among children. “A Banda” entered the 1966 Festival da Música Popular Brasileira (TV festivals through which many of the names here discussed got famous and that helped shape MPB) and won the contest with a beautiful rendition by Chico Buarque himself and Nara Leão, which you can see in the video below:

PS: Personally, I line with the “old guys” and not the “mad ones” and proclaim that I like Chico Buarque a lot more than Caetano Veloso.

#31 – Caetano Veloso – Enquanto seu lobo não vem (1968)

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circensis (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Vamos passear na floresta escondida, meu amor
Vamos passear na avenida
Vamos passear nas veredas, no alto meu amor
Há uma cordilheira sob o asfalto

(Os clarins da banda militar…)
A Estação Primeira da Mangueira passa em ruas largas
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Passa por debaixo da Avenida Presidente Vargas
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Presidente Vargas, Presidente Vargas, Presidente Vargas
(Os clarins da banda militar…)

Vamos passear nos Estados Unidos do Brasil
Vamos passear escondidos
Vamos desfilar pela rua onde Mangueira passou
Vamos por debaixo das ruas

(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Debaixo das bombas, das bandeiras
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Debaixo das botas
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Debaixo das rosas, dos jardins
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Debaixo da lama
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Debaixo da cama

Translated lyrics:

Let’s take a walk on the hidden forest, my darling
Let’s strode through the avenue
Let’s go through the country, my love, up there
There is a mountain range below the tarmac

(The military band plays…)
Estação Primeira da Mangueira parades through large streets
(The military band plays…)
It passes right below Presidente Vargas avenue
(The military band plays…)
President Vargas, President Vargas, President Vargas
(The military band plays…)

Let’s talk a walk throught the United States
Let’s go undercover
Let’s parade where Mangueira went
Let’s go beneath the streets

(The military band plays…)
Under the bombs, under the banners
(The military band plays…)
Under the boots
(The military band plays…)
Under the roses in the gardens
(The military band plays…)
Under the mud
(The military band plays…)
Under the bed

Another Caetano Veloso cut from the 1968 album and actually I don’t have much to say about it. Only that the military band going through the streets playing under (or over) everything reminds me, of course, of censorship and other horrible things in Brazilian dictatorship. It made me think of famous Chico Buarque’s song called “A Banda”, which I’ll translate tomorrow, because this blog has been too long without a Chico Buarque song.

As for the translation, it is not a hard one. I made some slight changes, though. One of the more important is that the original says “Os clarins da banda militar“, and not exactly “The military band plays”. The clarim is the same thing as a bugle, as you can see below.

clarim

 

And it is not for another reason that the Marvel-universe newspaper, the one where Peter Parker works, is called in Brazil “O clarim diário”, or The daily bugle.

Clarim Diário cópia

 

Another change I’ve made is that I translated vereda as country, as vereda means a track cut through the country’s vegetation. In Brazil, it is usually spoke of as a way through, in an almost metaphorical sense. Probably this is because of the masterpiece written by Guimarães Rosa called Grande Sertão: Veredas. Published in 1956, it is one of the chief works of Brazilian literature, and Rosa is a genius when it comes to language and language play. I can honestly say it is on the same level as Joyce’s Ulysses. The book has been translated with the name The Devil to Pay in the Backlands, which is just a great way to express what goes through the book.

#30 – Gilberto Gil & Caetano Veloso – Três Caravelas (1968)

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circenses (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Un navegante atrevido
Salió de Palos un día
Iba con tres carabelas
La Pinta, la Niña y la Santa María

Hacia la tierra cubana
Con toda sua valentía
Fue con las tres carabelas
La Pinta, la Niña y la Santa María

Muita coisa sucedeu
Daquele tempo pra cá
O Brasil aconteceu
É o maior
Que que há?!

Um navegante atrevido
Saiu de Palos um dia
Vinha com três caravelas
A Pinta, a Nina e a Santa Maria

Em terras americanas
Saltou feliz certo dia
Vinha com três caravelas
A Pinta, a Nina e a Santa Maria

Mira, tu, que cosas pasan
Que algunos años después
En esta tierra cubana
Yo encontré a mí querer

Viva el señor don Cristóbal
Que viva la patria mía
Vivan las tres carabelas
La Pinta, la Niña y la Santa María

Viva Cristóvão Colombo
Que para nossa alegria
Veio com três caravelas
A Pinta, a Nina e a Santa Maria
(La Pinta, la Niña y la Santa María)

Translated lyrics:

A bold sailor went out one day
He sailed three caravels
Each one called Pinta, Niña and Santa Maria

Towards the cuban sea
With all braveness he sailed
The three caravels
La Pinta, la Ninã y la Santa Maria

Many things happened since that time
Brasil has happened
It’s the biggest there is?!

A bold sailor went out of Palos one day
He sailed three caravels
Each one called Pinta, Niña and Santa Maria

On american lands
He landed happily one day
He came with three caravels
La Pinta, la Ninã y la Santa Maria

Look, thou, what is happening
Some years later on this cuban soil
I found who wanted me

Long live el señor dom Cristóvão
Long live my country
Long live the three caravels
La Pinta, la Ninã y la Santa Maria

Long live Cristóvão Colombo
That for our joy came
With the three caravels
Pinta, Niña and Santa Maria

This song is a cover of a cover.

Actually, it is a song written in 1956 by Catalunian composer and arranger Augusto Algueró. Below, you can find a Spanish version of the song in what’s probably the rhythm it was intended to be performed.

The song soon received a Portuguese version by the great marchinhas composer João de Barros (a guy which next week we’ll get the chance to know more about). I’ve found this rendition of it performed by the radio-era star Emilinha Barbosa:

In Caetano and Gil’s voices, however, the song gets a very explicit ironic content, as they sing that Brazil is the biggest thing there is. When they sing, this mimics the military rhetorics about Brazil.

As the song makes it explicit, it is about Columbus, called in Brazil Cristóvão Colombo. The subject of discovery, however, is crucial to Brazilian identity, especially when it comes to think of its relation to Brazilian indigenous peoples. It is still a common topic to think of the Portuguese arrival as a discovery and not as a conquest, as the Spanish-speaking countries later developed the notion. It is still believed that Brazil was discovered by accident!

Anyway, in the nineteenth century the Brazilian Empire exploited the subject for political reason. It sponsored nationalistic art, especially conceding scholarships to Brazilian painters and intellectuals. One of the works of art that come of it is the very famous painting by Victor Meirelles (1832-1903) called A Primeira Missa no Brasil (The first mass in Brazil). The painting is still reproduced in school textbooks in Brazil. It is a noteworthy painting not only because of its political connotations, creating a visual representation to Brazil’s founding moment, but also because of its dimensions (268 cm x 356 cm) and its technical expertise.

Meirelles-primeiramissa2

The painting was revisited many times in Brazilian art, one of the most famous was by Brazilian high-modernist hero Cândido Portinari (1903-1962) in the 40s.

portinari

In the late eighties and early nineties, the painter Glauco Rodrigues made a series of reinterpretations of the painting in a Tropicalist tone. Just to remind that Tropicália wasn’t only about music:

glauco 01

glauco 02

#29 – Caetano Veloso & Gal Costa – Baby

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circenses (Phillips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Você precisa
Saber da piscina
Da margarina
Da Carolina
Da gasolina
Você precisa
Saber de mim
Baby, baby
Eu sei
Que é assim
Baby, baby
Eu sei
Que é assim

Você precisa
Tomar um sorvete
Na lanchonete
Andar com gente
Me ver de perto
Ouvir aquela canção
Do Roberto
Baby, baby
Há quanto tempo
Baby, baby
Há quanto tempo

Você precisa
Aprender inglês
Precisa aprender
O que eu sei
E o que eu
Não sei mais
E o que eu
Não sei mais

Não sei
Comigo
Vai tudo azul
Contigo
Vai tudo em paz
Vivemos
Na melhor cidade
Da América do Sul
Da América do Sul   
Você precisa
Você precisa…

Não sei
Leia
Na minha camisa
Baby, baby
I love you
Baby, baby
I love you…

Translated lyrics:

You need to know
About the vaseline
About the margarine
About Caroline
About gasoline
You need to know
About me
Baby, baby
I know that’s the way it is

You need to know
About the ice cream
On the dream
[You need] To walk among people
See me close
Listen to that Roberto [Carlos] song
Baby, baby
How long has it been

You need
To learn English
You need to learn
What I earned
And what I don’t
Already have

I don’t know
With me
Everything’s fine
With you
Everything’s nice
We live
On the best city
Of South America
You need
You need…

I don’t know
Read my shirt
Baby, baby
I love you
Baby, baby
I love you…

This is one of my favorite songs on the album and one the most beautiful. I made a number of alterations as the song doesn’t really have a meaning, but it has a very strong rhyme which is sometimes almost hypnotic on its repetition. It’s a great song in every way that one can conceive a great song.

I read an account by Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson on his all-time favorite albums and he says that this song is what converted him to Brazilian music. As he says, “It’s experimental, but it’s great songs. That’s what really kills me. It’s easy to make experimental music, but it’s hard to make a good song. And when you combine the two like this whole movement did, it just blows my mind.” That’s a great definition of the whole Tropicália thing

As for the translation, in the start of the song I changed “piscina”, which would be rendered as pool, for vaseline. There’s no reason for this besides a strange association with that Flaming Lips’ song and the fact that I can keep the words rhyming with it. Later, I’ve made the song even more oneiric rendering “na lanchonete”, which means exactly what it seems, for “on the dream”, which is the only word that came to my mind to keep the song afloat. The reason I did this was just to have some fun, as I think that making a word-for-word translation wouldn’t make much of a sense.

As a last note, by the end of the song she sings “Vai tudo azul”. This means that everything is fine. In Brazil people also say “Alles blau”, especially where I live, in South Brazil, where there is a strong German presence on the overall culture. I never saw any real German saying “Alles blau”, but maybe there is that saying over there too. What I find interesting is that azul is the color blue, which in English conveys sadness and melancholy but which in Brazil expresses joy and fulfillment.And yes, I know I’ve skipped Gilberto Gil’s “Geléia Geral”, but I found it so hard to translate that I’ll only post it at the end of this album.

#28 – Tom Zé – Parque Industrial

from Tropicália, or Panis et Circenses (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

É somente requentar
E usar,
É somente requentar
E usar,
Porque é made, made, made, made in Brazil.
Porque é made, made, made, made in Brazil.

Retocai o céu de anil
Bandeirolas no cordão
Grande festa em toda a nação.
Despertai com orações
O avanço industrial
Vem trazer nossa redenção.

Tem garota-propaganda
Aeromoça e ternura no cartaz,
Basta olhar na parede,
Minha alegria
Num instante se refaz

Pois temos o sorriso engarrafadão
Já vem pronto e tabelado
É somente requentar
E usar,
É somente requentar
E usar,
Porque é made, made, made, made in Brazil.
Porque é made, made, made, made in Brazil.

Retocai o céu de anil, … … … etc.

A revista moralista
Traz uma lista dos pecados da vedete
E tem jornal popular que
Nunca se espreme
Porque pode derramar.

É um banco de sangue encadernado
Já vem pronto e tabelado,
É somente folhear e usar,
É somente folhear e usar.

Translated ones:

You just have to cook it over again
You just have to use, to cook it
Because it is made, made, made, made in Brazil
Because it is made, made, made, made in Brazil

Retouch the indigo, pennants on the wire
A big celebration throughout the country
Wake through prayers
The industrial progress
Will redeem our nation

Models, air comissioners, tenderness for sale
Just look at the wall
My whole happines in an instant just being remade

Because we have the bottled smile
It comes ready to use and with a price tag on it
You just have to cook it over again
You just have to use, to cook it
Because it is made, made, made, made in Brazil
Because it is made, made, made, made in Brazil

The conservative review
Brings a list of the show girls sins
And there’s tabloids
Which you can never squeeze
Because it can spill

It’s a bounded blood bank
It’s ready to use and it already has a price tag on it
You just have to flick through nd use it
Just have to flick through and use it

This is one of the standout tracks from the album and one I have so much thing to say about I don’t even know where to start. It was also re-recorded for Tom Zé’s debut album, Grande Liquidação, released the same year. As an historian, this song offers me once again a chance to talk at lenghts about Brazil’s modernization process, which is what this song most remind me of.

Up until the 50s, Brazilian industry was small and mass culture was virtually non-existent in Brazil, with the exception of some big movie or radio stars. Starting in this decade, especially with Juscelino Kubitschek’s administration (1955-1960), Brazilian industry got a big boost and Brazilian culture started to “surrender” more explicitely to North American culture. It was the years of rock and roll, the beginning of a car culture in Brazil and the great modernist project that was Brasília. It was also a decade in which the Brazilian government got really indebted to foreign investment agencies in order to keep the industry going. Needless to say, all this was made with small-to-none investment in infra-structure, so Kubitschek’s slogan that the country would fast-forward 50 years in 5 actually meant that it’s future would became shadowy and uncertain.

One of the banners of Brazil’s industrialization process was the concept of “substitution of imports”, through which what Brazil bought already made would be fabricated in Brazil, so it wouldn’t need to import the manufactured goods. I think that’s what Tom Zé is thinking when he speaks of “made in Brazil”.

In the sixties, the penetration of North American culture continued, as Tropicália shows it. One of its foremost symbols was Coca-Cola and the ready-to-use thing that you could buy at markets and supermarkets. I think the song also satirizes middle class dependency on buying things to distinguish itself from the others.

There’s a well-known poem by Décio Pignatari which jokes about all this. It’s part of the concretist movement in Brazilian culture, which I’ll talk more about when we come to “Bat-Macumba” in this album. The poem is as follows:

beba

The poet changes the words “beba coca cola “(drink Coke) to “cloaca”, which means asshole (as the animals have it) or sewage. Coke = Garbage, in other words.

That was only one reaction to all this, as Tropicália was another. That’s how Brazil got modern.

Another note: when Tom Zé says that the sky is “anil”, he references one of the slogans propagated by the dictatorship, the one in which the Brazilian heart is “verde, amarelo, branco, azul-anil”. It appeared on a Jovem Guarda propaganda track recorded by Os Incríveis titled “Eu te amo, Meu Brasil”, or “I love you, this Brazil of mine”. You can check this disgusting piece here.

In order to finish, I think the companion piece to this song is Luís Sérgio Person’s São Paulo S/A, one of the landmarks of the Cinema Novo movement, in which it shows the effects of modern society over the life of one man, Carlos. I guess that’s how paulistanos still live their lives.

#27 – Nara Leão – Lindonéia

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circenses (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Na frente do espelho
Sem que ninguém a visse
Miss
Linda, feia
Lindonéia desaparecida

Despedaçados, atropelados
Cachorros mortos nas ruas
Policiais vigiando
O sol batendo nas frutas
Sangrando
Ai, meu amor
A solidão vai me matar de dor

Lindonéia, cor parda
Fruta na feira
Lindonéia solteira
Lindonéia, domingo, segunda-feira
Lindonéia desaparecida
Na igreja, no andor
Lindonéia desaparecida
Na preguiça, no progresso
Lindonéia desaparecida
Nas paradas de sucesso
Ai, meu amor
A solidão vai me matar de dor

No avesso do espelho
Mas desaparecida
Ela aparece na fotografia
Do outro lado da vida

Translated lyrics:

At the mirror, no one watching her
Miss, beautiful, ugly,
Lindonéia, forgotten

Shattered, run down,
Dead dogs on the streets
Cops watching everything
The sun touching the fruits
Bleeding
Oh my love
Solitude is going to kill me

Lindonéia, brown skin
A fruit for sell at the market
Lindonéia, single
Lindonéia, sunday, monday
Lindonéia, forgotten
At the church, at the shades,
Lindonéia, forgotten
Lazy or in a hurry
Lindonéia, forgotten
At the music charts
Oh my love
Solitude is going to kill me

Through the looking glass
She appears in a photo
But she’s forgotten
At the other side of life

Nara Leão’s only cut for this 1968 album, it is kinda surprising to see her in this context. Although she was through much of the 60’s known as new music’s “pretty face”, by the second half of the decade she already made her famous show with Zé Kéti called “Opinião”. It was a bold move, but Zé Keti’s music — samba de raiz, or roots samba, in a rough translation — and the whole setting of the Opinão concert, being performed in 1967 at the just outlawed CPCs, made her seem to pledge allegiance to another kind of cultural vanguard in 60s Brazil. That she was able to perform also with the Tropicalists is a sign of the willingness and versatility.

I don’t have much to say about the track, though. But it reminded me of Clarice Lispector’s last book, “A hora da estrela”. In it, we follow the misadventures of a semi-analphabet datylographer called Macabéa as her life is narrated (or invented?) by a writer called Rodrigo S.M., Lispector’s alter-ego, so to speak, in this books. That I can record, Macabéa’s big dream was to become a star in a one of the TV Globo’s soap operas (novelas, as we name it), but she dies run down by a car in the street, interrupting the traffic. That was the only moment when someone completely banal and invisible — Macabéa — became a protagonist, although for just a moment, in other people’s lives. That’s why it’s “A hora da estrela”, or “The Hour of the Star”.

So, for me, this song, just like the book, is a little tribute to some of those unremarkable people that populate Brazil and the rest of the world.

To the translations, I made a number of small modifications. First thing to notice, however, is that the character’s name, Lindonéia, is an ugly name, as in what one may call “poor people’s names”. Linda is, of course, beautiful, when you translate it, but the suffix –néia always sounds bad in Portuguese.

As for the modifications: in the chorus, Lindonéia is “desaparecida”, which would translate as “missing”, but I thought “forgotten” expresses better the meaning of the song. Later, when it says “Na preguiça, no progresso”, I translated as I did because “progresso” probably means the fact that she is working, and not the overall progress of society or something like that. Finally, in the last verses I changed the order and also added a little Lewis Carrol touch to the translations, rendering “No avesso do espelho” (“At the other side of the mirror”) as “Through the looking glass”, because that’s how the book is translated: “Alice através do espelho”.

Sorry for the delay and the whole time this blog went without activity. I had to make an unexpected travel (I went to beach, so that was good) but I also have one member of my family in disease so it’s very time consuming just to be around it. Hope I can finish soon this album. See ya!

Something different n. 2 – Electroacoustic music from Brazil

As I have also other interests in Brazilian music, I decided to transform “Doing something different for today” as a permanent (until when?) blog feature.

Actually, I’ve found this collection here a few weeks ago and I think it is worth trying to make it more well known. It’s not an original post from my blog, as it is from another one, one dedicated to contemporary Brazilian music.

So this is a 5-CD set released in 2009 by the Brazilian Society for Electroacoustic Music (Sociedade Brasileira de Música Eletroacústica, or SBME) documenting fifty years of electroacoustic music in Brazil. As the Odecathon post says, electroacoustics first entered Brazilian musical landscape when Reginaldo Carvalho, at Villa-Lobos insistence, traveled to France in 1951 to check out what was that so-called “musique concrète”. Since then, it has been a steady feature of Brazilian concert music, and its strength is showed by the fact that in 1994 the aforementioned Society was created.

The set includes works from 1957 to 2007 and made in every way possible from computer music to tape editing and whatever’s in electroacoustic’s music making tools. So it’s worth checking it out!

The set is also accompanied by a 224-page booklet with details on the recordings and albums. Unfortunately, the post from which I took this reference hasn’t scanned it and neither do I have the CD set. I sent an e-mail to Jorge Antunes (one of the composers and leaders of the Society) and he said that the compilation is still in stock, but in order to get you need to send an e-mail to the SBME. The e-mail is as follows: sbme@sbme.com.br. Don’t miss the chance to get it as I myself will do as soon as I can afford it.

Finally, go to this link or click on the image below and click on the album covers to download the set.

Front

PS: I know there is another compilation series, which I guess has only released three CDs by now, that also collects electroacoustic music in Brazil and is also sponsored by the SBME, but I don’t know if it overlaps with this CD or if it’s just the same albums packaged separately. As soon as I found out and grab those albums, I upload them here.