#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

Anúncios

2 comentários sobre “#30 – Gilberto Gil & Caetano Veloso – Três Caravelas (1968)

  1. I was just now literally sitting on a 199 bus out of Greenwich, London, UK, trying to explain as best I could to the older woman sitiing next to me the wonderful song ‘las tres carabelas’ which I have only recently actually learned to spell correctly. ‘Good luck’ she cried as I leapt off at Lewisham. This is the kind of song that can get you talking to strangers! Even in England! Thank you for your explanation of the irony of the Brazilian added lyrics; I was (being a sometimes blinkered Anglophone) not even sure if the song was in Portugese or Spanish…Best wishes, Ben. (bgsmithies@yahoo.co.uk)

    • Aw thanks, Ben! Your comment came just in time because I was thinking I should get back with this blog.

      And it just proves the power of these songs, that they can connect so many different people so much time after they were first crafted.

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