#17 – Almôndegas – Barca de Caronte

from Aqui (Continental, 1975).

Original lyrics:

Amigo vivo, não pise jamais este chão,
Você não sabe o que o espera
Você não sabe de não, você não sabe de nada
No fim desta estrada
Meu pai me falou um dia
O fim da vida inicia
Quem parte não volta mais.

No fim dessa estrada
Há um porto com sangue no chão,
Há um rio que navio algum quer navegar,
No cais deserto espera deitado
A negra barca aportar
Na pedra fria do porto,
Pousa a mala do mortos,
Desbotada de esperar.
Fim de tarde
O morto espera a saudade
Um grito agudo, um movimento
Anunciando o momento
Da negra barca aportar
Ruídos de remos n’água
O morto esquece a mágoa
Levanta a mala no ar.
Noite escura,
O vento sopra a amargura
Que espera além do horizonte
Chega a barca de Caronte
Chamando o morto ao pó.

The lyrics in English:

Living friend, don’t ever step this land,
You don’t know what awaits you
You don’t know, you don’t know anything,
My father said once
That at the end of this road
Begins the end of life
And who goes don’t ever come back.

At the end of this road,
There’s a harbour with blood on the floor
There’s a river where no boat will travel

At the deserted, abandoned pier
A body lies awaiting
For the black ship to dock

At the harbour’s cold stones
Sits the dead man’s suitcase
Its colours faded from waiting

End of day
The dead man awaits
A cry, a move
Announcing the moment
The black ship docks

Rowing sounds in the water
The dead man forgets his sorrows
Raises the suitcase in the air

Dark night,
The wind whispers the bitterness
That awaits beyond the horizon
Comes Charon’s boat
Calling the dead to dust

I’ve been waiting for this moment for a little while and I must say I kinda precipitated it, but it happens that Almôndegas is one of my favorite brazilian bands and the one that, at least for me, brings up the most beautiful solutions to the dilemas of making BRAZILIAN music in Southern Brazil. As you may know, South Brazil, especially the state where I live, Rio Grande do Sul, has a very distinct cultural identity than the rest of the country. There is even a separatist movement, although it is kinda hard to take it serious. This identity, however, always appear as something that distinguish us from the rest of the country.

Rio Grande do Sul was part of the Spanish territories in South America throughout much of its existence and it indeed share much of its culture with that of the gaúchos from the pampas of Uruguay and Argentina. Because of this, there is even a singer/songwriter, Vitor Ramil, who claimed a “cold aesthetics” to it, instead of the summer-blessed rest of Brazil.

Almôndegas comes up with a different solution, so I think. Instead of turning its back on Brazilian culture, they embrace the gaúcho identity and its music as part of the wide spectrum of what makes Brazil Brazil: its diversity. Formed in the mid-seventies, the band rose to fame during the heights of Brazilian “rock rural”, a kind of a movement which related rock music to the simpleness of country life, much like what The Band did with the Big Pink thing. Almôndegas took that and mixed with Southern rhythmns, like milonga, but also with samba, bolero, and everything else.

This song is not the best sample of their music, but as they’ll return here there will be other times when I’ll be able to present their lyrics.

Just two notes.

First, the band’s name translate as, yes, “meat balls”. Second, this band was the vehiclue for a later very famous duo in Brazilian music, Kleitor & Kledir, to appear. Kleitor & Kledir made a lot of “parents music”, so to speak, but as my own parents listened to it a lot, I’ve grown attached to it in some way.

PS: I’ll update the post later, as I’m about to travel, so you’ll have to wait for the song itself.


#4 – Alceu Valença – Punhal de Prata

from Molhado de Suor (Som Livre, 1975)

Original Portuguese lyrics:

Eu sempre andei descalço
No encalço dessa menina
E a sola dos meus passos
Tem a pele muito fina

Eu sempre olhei nos olhos
Bem no fundo, nas retinas
E a menina dos olhos
Me mata, me aluncina

Eu sempre andei sozinho
A mão esquerda vazia
A mão direita fechada
Sem medo por garantia

De encontrar quem me ama
Na hora que me odeia
Com esse punhal de prata
Brilhando na lua cheia

Mas eu não quero viver cruzando os braços
Nem ser cristo na tela de um cinema
Nem ser pasto de feras numa arena
Nesse circo eu prefiro ser palhaço

Eu só quero uma cama pro cansaço
Não me causa temor o pesadelo
Tenho mapas e rotas e novelos
Para sair de profundos labirintos
Sou de ferro, de aço de granito
Grito aflito na rua do sossego


Mas na verdade é mentira
Eu sou o resto
Sou a sobra num copo, Sou subeijo
Sou migalhas na mesa
Sou desprezo
Eu não quero estar longe
Nem estou perto

Eu só quero dormir de olho aberto
Minha casa é um cofre sem segredo
O meu quarto é sem portas, tenho medo
Quando falo desdigo, calo e minto
Sou de ferro, aço e de granito
Grito aflito na rua do sossego

E o que prende demais minha atenção
É um touro raivoso na arena
Uma pulga do jeito que é pequena
Dominar a bravura de um leão

Na picada ele muda a posição
Pra coçar se depressa, com certeza
Não se serve da unha e da presa
Se levanta da cama e fica em pé
Tudo isso provando como é poderosa e suprema a natureza

E eu desconfio dos cabelos longos de sua cabeça
Se você deixou crescer de um ano pra cá
Eu desconfio no sentido ‘Stricto’
Eu desconfio no sentido ‘Lato’
Eu desconfio dos cabelos logos e desconfio do diabo a quatro
Do diabo a quatro
Do diabo a quatro…

My attempt at translating it:

I’ve always walked barefoot
Chasing the footprints of this girl
And my step’s sole
Has a very thin skin

I’ve always looked deep
Deep down in the eyes
And the pupil
Kills me, hallucinates me

I’ve always walked alone
Left hand empty
Right hand closed
Without fear for sure

Of finding the one who loves me
In the very hour he hates me
With this silver dagger
Shining in the full moon

But I don’t wanna live with arms crossed
Neither I want to be Christ in a movie screen
Nor food for the beasts on a sideshow
In this circus I’d rather be the clown

I just want a bedside to rest
Nightmares don’t scare me
I have maps and routes and ropes
To escape from deep dark labyrinths
I’m made of iron, steel and stone
I scream anxious on the street of soothingness


But actually it is a lie
I’m what’s left
I’m what’s left in a glass cup, I’m excess
I’m breadcrumb on a table
I’m despair
I don’t want to be far away
Nor I want to be near

I just wanna sleep with eyes wide open
My house is a safe-box without combination
My room has no windows, I’m scared
When I say I unsay, I shut up and lie
I’m made of iron, steel and stone
I scream anxious on the street of soothingness

And what grips on my mind
Is a rageous bull on the ring
A small flea taming the lion’s braveness

When stinged he changes position
To scratch quickly
Surely he doesn’t uses his nails or his preys
He gets up and stays afoot
All this to show just how nature is powerful and supreme

And I doubt your long hair
If you let them grow since yesteryear
I doubt in the strict sense
And in the broad sense
I doubt your long hair and everything else
And everything else
Everything else…

Boy, this one was hell. Not only because it is long but also because I’ve read it over and over again and I still can’t find a sure meaning to it or at least a single meaning to it. Perhaps there isn’t, but as an amateur translator, that means I had to stick to a more word-for-word translation than before.

This is the opening track of the third Alceu Valença album, Molhado de Suor. The title translates as “sweaty” or “poured in sweat”, like when someone gets when does too much exercise under the sun or, like the main character on the track, seem to be running away indefinitely. Valença’s lyrics are almost always open-ended and like here, they more conjure up images than chew up all for the listener. I hope the translation can convey the sense of escaping and the urgency of the original track.

It’s also cool to see Alceu Valença before he lost his edge, so to speak, and become a mainstay in Brazilian TV-financed festivals. He’s still a crazy guy, but he’s somewhat tamed. His first album with Geraldo Azevedo is a lesser known psychedelic gem, check it out:

To the translation, finally. “Chasing the footprints” may seem odd, but it’s because the original has a wordplay between walking barefoot (descalço) and keeping track of someone (estar no encalço de alguém). Later, I’ve translated menina dos olhos in its literal sense because in the context he speaks about eyes. In Portuguese, though, menina dos olhos also means your pride and joy, something that it’s most dear to you, even making you jealous of other’s reactions to it. It’s another wordplay. By the middle of the lyrics, Valença says he’s got mapas e rotas e novelos. Novelo means a tread ball, so the rope isn’t formed yet. He’s in the dungeon making the instruments for his escape. And I’ve translated sossego for soothingness because of the context, as he’s going against a status quo. Sossego can also be translated by laziness or to be at easy, as Tim Maia says on his famous tracks.

Lastly, if you’re still with me, there’s a wordplay involving Valença’s name in Brazil. Alceu sounds just like “Ao seu” in Portuguese, which means “To yours”, so people can say “Ao seu Valença” and the other can reply “Ao meu Valença” (To my Valença). It’s just a little joke.

See you tomorrow. Peace!

#2 – Moraes Moreira – Se você pensa

from Moraes Moreira (Som Livre, 1975)

Original lyrics:

Se você pensa que vai fazer de mim
O que faz com todo mundo que te ama
Acho bom saber que pra ficar comigo
Vai ter que mudar
Daqui pra frente, tudo vai ser diferente
Você vai aprender a ser gente
O seu orgulho não vale nada
Você tem a vida inteira pra viver
E saber o que é bom e o que é ruim
É melhor pensar depressa e escolher
Antes do fim
Você não sabe, nem nunca procurou saber
Que quando a gente ama pra valer
Bom mesmo é ser feliz e mais nada

Translated ones:

If you think you’re going to do to me
What you do to everyone else
I think it’s better for you to know that to stay with me
You’ll have to change
From now on, everything will have to be different
You’ll learn to be somebody
Your stubbornness will mean nothing
You have all your life to live
And to learn what’s good and what’s bad
It’s better you think quickly and choose
Before the end comes
You don’t know, you never tried to find out
That when we’re trully in love
Being happy is what counts and nothing else

This is a track from Moraes Moreira’s self-titled first album, released in 1975. You may know him for his work as one of the Novos Baianos and he’s still quite active. I remember when I was a child in the early nineties (yes…) I was always intrigued by one of his LP’s we still have here at home that had a song about a Pegasus or something like that, I don’t know why but I used to like it. Maybe I’ll post it here someday.

Anyway, this track is not an Moraes Moreira orginal but actually a cover of a song written by Jovem Guarda superstars Roberto and Erasmo Carlos. It’s an usual Jovem Guarda boy-wants-girl-but-she-doesn’t-care-about-him song, but this one paints the girl as self-righteous, so the boy actually has a reason in creating conditions for her to be with him. Maybe it’s an hangover from the innocence of some earlier Jovem Guarda’s songs or they’re recognizing that times are changing (times have changed in Brazil since 1964) or maybe I’m just thinking too much over it.

If you don’t know why Roberto Carlos is called O Rei (the King), don’t forget to check this rendition of “Se você pensa” live on the Record TV channel in 1969: