#27 – Nara Leão – Lindonéia

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

Original lyrics:

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

Despedaçados, atropelados
Cachorros mortos nas ruas
Policiais vigiando
O sol batendo nas frutas
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
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!


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