#20 – Rita Lee – Corista de rock

from Entradas & Bandeiras (Som Livre, 1976)

Original lyrics:

Disseram que o palco não é mais aquele lugar
Mas do jeito que a gente me olha de frente
Como eu vou parar?
Pois eu sou corista num grupo de rock
Que tem pra valer
Um ponto de vista que não se limita
De ser ou não ser
Prefiro ser os dois

Não venha me dizer do meu compromisso
Com isso ou aquilo
Se o que a gente quer
Não deixa de ser um belo motivo
Pra se festejar de modo indiscreto
O que vai nascer
E todas as estórias
Que o mundo imagina pra sobreviver
Prefiro não saber

O que eu era ou sou por enquanto
É tudo aquilo que eu digo e canto
Com um pouco de espanto
Num palco ou num canto

English ones:

They’ve said the stage is not what it used to be
But the way people stare at me
How can I stop?
Because I’m a singer in a rock group
One who has in earnest a point of view
Which is not limited to be or not to be
I’d rather be both

Don’t tell me about my commitment with this or that
If what we want is nothing more than a good reason
To party in an [indiscreto] way
What will be and all the stories that the world
Creates to itself just to survive
I’de rather do not know

What I was I am now
It’s everything that I say and sing
With a little [espanto]
In a stage or in a song

This is Rita Lee’s swan song of sorts, as after this 1976 album her style would soften and she would record mainly pop rock ballads, eschewing much of the creativity of her early career. Some people say that is because she married music producer Roberto de Carvalho. She is still an eccentric woman, but her music isn’t as adventurous as it was.

Anyways, this is great stuff and I think it reflects the overall tropicália take on Brazilian culture and history. As a rock album, it’s title is derived from the bandeirantes’ expeditions into Brazilian countryside during the colonial times. The bandeirantes were paulistas colonists who married and lived with the indigenous people of São Paulo (the São Vicente coast) coast and who went on to hunt and slave thousands of Indians, all the way adopting their way of life. A legendary view of the bandeirantes in Brazilian culture sees them as civilizing heroes who slayed the native’s bad habits and expanded Brazilian borders ‘till almost what it is today. Needless to say, they became integral part of Brazilian identity and especially the paulista identity.

Rita Lee not only adopts what this tradition says but also puts her in charge of it, so the bandeiras end up being a symbol for anthropophagy, the concept invented by the paulista Oswald de Andrade to say how a not-mainstream culture can relate to a mainstream culture. But now I’m getting too academic…

The title Entradas & bandeiras ended up on the cover of the third book written by exiled politician Fernando Gabeira reflecting on his exile experience. Gabeira is the author of O que é isso, companheiro?, the essential reading about the Brazilian guerrilla movement during the dictatorship years.



#11 – Erasmo Carlos – Mané João

from Cachaça Mecânica (Polydor, 1976)

Original lyrics:

Lá na gafieira
De Mané João
Toda brincadeira
Acabou no chão
Tinha inimigo no meio do salão
Zé da Capoeira fazendo exibição

Tinha cabelo grande mas não tinha molho
Mané ficou de olho
Escondeu Margarida na cortina
E gritou ninguém transa com a menina
E só terminou a brincadeira
Com o sangue escorrendo na ladeira
E era muito sangue pra pouca ladeira
Lá na gafieira

Translated ones:

There in Mané João’s samba
All the fun went over
There were opponents on the floor
And Zé da Capoeira showing his skills

There was long hair but there wasn’t sauce
Mané kept an eye open
Daisy was hidden behind a curtain
And Mané shouted “nobody fucks the girl”
And the fun was over only when
Blood started falling the ladder
And it was a lot of blood for too few of ladder
There in the samba

I confess I didn’t know this one, but I liked it. I was never that much into Erasmo Carlos, although I have a knowledge of his musical partner Roberto Carlos through my family. The lyrics to this one are very heavy and from what I found it is an Erasmo Carlos’ original. I have found two earlier versions, the first one recorded by Wanderléa – the then Jovem Guarda’s ex-muse, so to say – and the other one by Téo Azevedo on a funky groovy version, both from 1972-1974 timespan:

Regarding the translation, perhaps you know the word “gafieira”. It means a small samba dance party, usually between people that know each other. I don’t know if the word is still in use in Rio de Janeiro (I guess not), but it somehow brings to mind old Rio and the world of malandros and meganhas. Mané is a semi-derogative way of relating to someone, usually it means the person in question is not someone you can trust, “he’s a mané”, he’s usually on shady business etc. But Mané was also the “title” associated with Garrincha, Mané Garrincha.

By the way, Brazil has recently lost Nilton Santos, Garrincha’s partner on that classic Botafogo squad from the 60s and one of the best football players in history, called Enciclopédia do Futebol (Football Encyclopedia) for what he could do with the ball, virtually everything. So I post a pic of him as a small tribute to this witness of a time when soccer really meant something: