#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.

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