#16 – Nelson Angelo & Joyce – Vivo ou morto

from Nelson Angelo & Joyce (Odeon, 1972)

Original lyrics:

Debaixo das nove pedras
Ele vive muito bem
Vive como ninguém sabe por que
E respira o mesmo ar que você

Ele respira e fala
Pelas barcas do Inferno
Ele respira e fala
Pelas barcas do Inferno

Debaixo das nove parcas (?)
Ele mesmo se cala
Debaixo das nove barcas
Ele leva pés na sala (?)

E nas vielas da noite
A vida sempre é mais calma
A vida sempre é mais certa
Quando se pensa na morte

Translated ones:

Nine rocks below
He lives fine
He lives as nobody knows why
And he breaths the same air as you

He breaths and speaks
For the boats of Hell
He breaths and speaks
For the boats of Hell

Nine moirae bellow (?)
He shuts his mouth
Below the nine boats
He washes his feet (?)

And in the alleys at night
Life is always more serene
Life is always more certain
When you think about death

I didn’t knew Joyce had such a wonderful album. Once again, as a young Brazilian always tuned to the outside, I’d grow up with a lot of prejudice against some Brazilian artists. It is cool to find that this prejudice is unjustified. What a great album.

Joyce and Nelson Angelo were married when this album was recorded. Later she became somewhat of a staple singer on Brazil’s MPB and found more success in the 80’s.

I’ve had some trouble with the lyrics as I didn’t found them on any website, so I had to transcribe them by myself. I’m not good at this, so I have some doubts.

As of the translation, I’ve translated parcas for the moirae. The parcae, in Roman mythology, were the weavers of destiny, and the moirae were their Greek equivalent. So this is also a transmythological translation!

The subject seem to be about life and death, and the song’s title is just it: “Live or dead”. “Vivo ou morto” is also how in Portuguese we translate those Wild West calls for someone to be capture, live or dead.

As the song talks about Charon and his boat, tomorrow I’ll depart from the Soul Jazz compilation to present another song from this era which deals with the same subject.


PS: Below you’ll find the whole album to listen to.


#15 – Gilberto Gil – O canto da ema

from Expresso 2222 (Universal, 1972)

Original Portuguese lyrics:

A ema gemeu no tronco do juremá
Foi um sinal bem triste, morena
Fiquei a imaginar
Será que é o nosso amor, morena
Que vai se acabar?
Você bem sabe, que a ema quando canta
Traz no meio do seu canto um bocado de azar
Eu tenho medo, morena, eu tenho medo
Pois acho que é muito cedo
Pra essa amor acabar
Vem morena, vem, vem, vem
Me beijar, me beijar
Dá um beijo, dá um beijo
Pra esse mesmo, se acabar

In English:

The ostrich has moaned at the Jurema trunk
It was a sad, sad sign, girl
It made me wonder
Will our love ever end, girl?
You know that when the ostrich sings
It bring inside its song a whole lot of bad luck
I’m afraid, girl, I’m afraid
Because I think it’s too soon
For this love to end.
Come girl, come, come, come
Kiss me, kiss me,
Give me a kiss, give me a kiss,
So this kiss, this kiss itself can end

Sorry for the inactivity, readers. I won’t make promises, but I’ll try to reup this blog, after all is a great fun to keep it.

This one’s another from Gilberto Gil’s Expresso 2222 and another one from the Soul Jazz compilation. I didn’t know it before, but I liked a lot of it. Gil’ songs from this period are all great, period.

There are some cool stuff about the translation.

First one, the ema isn’t the ostrich, but another animal, very similar to it. People usually give one for another, but the ema is endemic to South America (ostriches inhabit Africa), it is slightly smaller than the ostrich and it has long wings, although it also doesn’t fly. I don’t know how emas are called in other countries, but I’ve found a Wikipedia link in English to it. I’ve translated ema as ostrich because of the similarities and also to avoid using too many Portuguese words in the translation.

As of the ema‘s singing, I don’t know anything about it. Perhaps it’s an Northeastern Brazilian tradition, probably of Native American origin. The same about the Jurema. Jurema is a large tree from the caatinga (Northeastern Brazil largest ecosystem)  and it is the source of a ritual drink used in some indigenous religious practices but which enjoys some popularity in Nordeste today. I know it is in Portuguese, but I’ve found this reference (again from Wikipedia) about it. (Jurema is a name given to a wide variety of trees derived from the Acácia which inhabit Northeastern Brazil, actually).

As anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro said, American natives’ greatest technological achievements were made in the field of biochemistry, as they know almost everything about every plant, tree, leaves or herbs from where they live. Usually the ceremonial drink from Brazil’s tupi-guarani groups, the largest Native American group in Brazil’s territory, is cauim, made from fermented cassava, but there is also santo daime (the same as ayahuasca), so the jurema must relate to it.

All this, of course, doesn’t say anything about the song, which is a beautiful, simple and earnest love song.

See ya.

#12 – Jards Macalé – Farinha do desprezo

from Jards Macalé (Philips, 1972)

Portuguese lyrics:

Já comi muito da farinha do desprezo,
Não, não me diga mais que é cedo,
Hum, quanto tempo amor, quanto tempo tava pronta,
Que tava pronta da farinha do despejo.

Me jogue fora que na água do balde eu vou m’embora.

Só vou comer agora da farinha do desejo,
Alimentar minha fome pra que eu nunca me esqueça,
Ah como é forte o gosto da farinha do desprezo,
Só vou comer agora da farinha do desejo.

English lyrics:

I have already eaten too much of scorn’s flour
No, don’t tell me it is too son,
How much time, love, how much time it was ready
Scorn’s flour was ready

Throw me out and I’ll go away

I will only eat the flour scorn has left
To nourish my hunger so I’ll never forget
How strong tastes the scorn’s flour
Now I’ll only eat scorn’s flour

Oh Jards, Jards…This guy should be much more well known in Brazil than he is today, perhaps in the same level or only one step behind Caetano Veloso, Chico etc. This is a funny thing that happened to some of those 70s guys, just like Luiz Melodia, they were unclassifiable. In the case of Jards Macalé, you get one guy with a hell of a funny name who creates some very passionate and sophisticated songs but nonetheless comes not from Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Sul (where the celebrities all hang), but from the suburbs, the places where Rio de Janeiro loses its paradisaical touches to become of the most unfair cities in the world. Jards Macalé never lost his edge, so maybe this made him an uneasy figure in Brazilian cultural landscape.

Anyway, this one just got reissued internationally by Mr. Bongo, I think you should check it out.

As the lyrics, I can’t say exactly what is the scorn’s flour. Please, don’t tell me it is cocaine. It reminds me, though, of a Brazilian saying of someone eating the bread that the devil himself made or, in Portuguese, “comer o pão que o diabo amassou”. Here, the verb amassar stands for sovar, which is when you knead the lump before getting the bread on the oven. Comer o pão que o diabo amassou means to get the second or third option of something, to be left over, to be looked with scorn upon something.

#9 – Gilberto Gil – Sai do Sereno

from Expresso 2222 (Universal, 1972)

Lyrics in Portuguese:

Sai, sai do sereno, menina
Sereno pode lhe fazer mal
Vem logo pra dentro, menina
Que esse forró
Tá gostoso pra danar
Acaundu, acaundu, acaundu

Lyrics in English:

Girl, get out of the dew, get out,
The dew can harm you
Come quickly inside
That this forró
Is good as hell

This is a cut from the album Expresso 2222, released in 1972, after Gilberto Gil came back from London when he was exiled because of Brazilian dictatorship. Most of the “big names” in Brazilian music during that period (Gil, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque) stayed for some time abroad because of the dictatorship. The military regime employed a vast censorship structure to try to keep the artists from saying anything against them, which led some of them to look for another places where they could be creative. What always impressed me is that even though they were opposition in some sense to the regime, they nonetheless released tons of albums. I can only think that they weren’t so subversive as they said or the censorship was kinda stupid, I don’t know. Anyway, as happened to Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil’s period in London wasn’t the most successful, he couldn’t launch his career overseas and then he returned to Brazil. Expresso 2222, the album’s title, indicates the train line he usually took around Bahia in his youth.

The song is not difficult to understand. Actually, it is not a Gil’s original but a rendition of a earlier forró song written by Onildo de Almeida. I always find it interesting how tropicália’s musicians tried to emulate and remember the Brazilian musical traditions. That’s antropofagia after all!

Unfortunately I couldn’t find an “original” rendition of the song, but you can listen to it from the video below, when it comes third after “Vamos chegar pra lá” e “Só para assanhar”, two other forró standards:

#7 – Novos Baianos – Brasil Pandeiro

from Acabou Chorare (Som Livre, 1972)

Original lyrics:

Chegou a hora dessa gente bronzeada
Mostrar seu valor
Eu fui à Penha fui pedir à padroeira para
Me ajudar
Salve o Morro do Vintém, Pindura Saia,
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver o Tio Sam tocar pandeiro
Prara o mundo sambar

O Tio Sam está querendo conhecer
A nossa batucada
Anda dizendo que o molho da baiana
Melhorou seu prato
Vai entrar no cuscuz, acarajé e abará
Na casa branca já dançou a batucada
De ioiô i iaiá

Brasil, esquentai vossos pandeiros iluminai os terreiros
Que nós queremos sambar

Há quem sambe diferente
Noustras terras, outra gente
Um batuque de matar
Batucada, reuni vossos valores
Pastorinhas e cantores
Expressoes que nâo tem par
Oh! Meu Brasil

Brasil, esquentai vossos pandeiros…

My translation of it:

It is about time this tanned people show what’s worth
I went to Penha ask its patron saint to help me
Hail Morro do Vintém, Pindura Saia, I want to see
I want to see Uncle Sam play the pandeiro so the whole world can dance samba

Uncle Sam is willing to know our batucada
He says the Baiana’s gravy made his dishes better
He’ll accept cuscuz, acarajé and abará
In the White House he already danced to the sound of ioiô and iaiá

Brazil, warm up your pandeiros,
Lighten the terreiros,
That we want to dance samba

There are those who samba differently
In another lands, other peoples
A killing batuque
Batucada, gather what your worth,
Little dancers and singers,
Expressions without comparison
Oh! Brazil

Sorry I skipped a day over, so you’ll at least have TWO and not only one translated lyrics.

As I promised, here are the translated lyrics to the first track on Acabou, Chorare, by Novos Baianos. It is not an original of theirs, but a rendition – made under the João Gilberto’s suggestion – of a track composed by Assis Valente in the 40s. Assis Valente was one of the foremost composers of samba during the Golden Age of Radio in Brazil. This is one of the most fertile periods in Brazilian music, much different than what came after (Bossa Nova is really a change of paradigm, almost a new idiom), and I hope I’ll have the chance to speak about it later. About Brasil Pandeiro, however, there is a curious story that it was composed for Carmen Miranda after she returned from the United States. Following her success, the lyrics say how even the States are curious toward Brazil. There are some nationalistic propaganda in there too, I guess, because during half of the 40s Brazil was under Getúlio Varga’s Estado Novo dictatorship, which tried to create an image of Brazil as a racial democracy and many other things we now associate with it. The curious thing, as I’ve said, is that Carmen Miranda rejected the song, which went unrecorded until some years later, and then it became even more famous sung by the Novos Baianos.

I have left several terms untranslated. So to make things more clear, I explain what they are. Penha is a neighborhood in Northern region of the city of Rio de Janeiro, it is well known as one of the samba birthplaces and also famous for its baroque church, which somehow still stands amidst the ocean of favelas surrounding it. It is one of the great landmarks of Rio. Morro do Vintém is a hill in Niterói, the city located opposed to Rio de Janeiro on the other side of Baía de Guanabara, and Pindura Saia is a community located in Morro da Mangueira, also in the city of Rio, which is, of course, one of Rio de Janeiro mainstays at samba music and history. So the first verses are a kind of invocation of the Brazilian samba tradition.

Batucada is the drum rhythm of samba and other Brazilian dances. One of its instruments is the pandeiro, which appears not only in samba but also on other kinds of music derivated from it, such as chorinho. Cuscuz (the same as couscous), acarajé and abará (the same as an acarajé, but as the other is fried, this one is cooked) are all typical culinary dishes from Bahia. Bahia, located in Northeastern Brazil, has a very distinctive culture and so those dishes represent some kind of typical Brazilian gastronomy. They are all very spiced, if you had the chance to taste one. Pastorinhas is short for a female shepherd, but in the context it indicates female dancers, as old street carnival in Rio used to have. The word is used in this sense in the famous João de Barros and Noel Rosa’s marchinha entitled – justly – “As Pastorinhas“. The terreiros mentioned in the chorus indicate the place where samba was/is traditionally played. They are squared opened buildings with its floor covered in dirt. The word also means the place where candomblé takes place, and candomblé is also called sometimes batuque in casual Brazilian Portuguese. So there’s always a second meaning hidden behind the surface…

In the following video you can listen to a earlier recording of Brasil Pandeiro:

#5 – Novos Baianos – Tinindo Trincando

from Acabou Chorare (Som Livre, 1972)

Original Portuguese lyrics:

Eu vou assim
E venho assim
Eu vou assim
E venho assim

Porque quem invade não
Não chega não
Chega não porque pera aí
Sou mesmo assim
Sou mesmo assim
Sou mesmo assim

Um dia assim
Um dia assado
Um dia assim
No duro tinindo tinindo trincando

Translated ones:

I go just like that
I come just like that
I go just like that
I come just like that

Because who invades me
Don’t come near because
i’m just like that
I’m just like that
Like that

One day this way
One day another way
One day this way
No duro, tinindo trincando

Sorry, guys, couldn’t translate the last verse! But later I’ll explain why.

This is the third track from Brazilian psychedelic classic Acabou Chorare, release in 1972. The details are well know today. A bunch of hippies during Brazilian military dictatorship leave the city and go a paradisaical beach in Northeatern Brazil to live as a self-sufficient community. It’s the very materialization of Raul Seixas’ sociedade alternativa. In the way, they made one of the great Brazilian records.In Brazil, the hippie movement really caught on after the turn of the 70s, as the 60s were still very influenced by communist-alike cultural expressions. In later years the album’s popularity has grown when it placed first on a list by Rolling Stone Brazil of the best Brazilian albums.

Why I didn’t translate the last verse? Because it is untranslatable! Actually, it isn’t, but I couldn’t think of an English equivalent which would convey the same sense of self-sufficient happiness and don’t give a fuck to everyone else as the sentence “No duro tinindo trincando”. Tinindo trincando was a slang for doing excellent, as tinindo refers to something shining when it is polished (like a glass) and trincando indicates when something is about to break but hasn’t yet. If we take the example of a glass, the two words will sound opposite, so you have to blame popular creativity for turning two rival aspects into only one idiom. As for “No duro”, it means “In fact”, “Really” or anything like that depending on the context. I hope you enjoy the translation even with this fault.

I don’t know if you know it, but “Brasil Pandeiro”, the opening track, is not a Novos Baianos original but actually a rendition of a standard samba composition made by Assis Valente in the forties. Tomorrow I’ll forget Brazil 70 a little bit to illuminate this song, which has — to me — of the most beautiful lyrics relating to Brazil and its people.