#54 – Simone – Então é Natal

from 25 de Dezembro (PolyGram, 1995)

Original lyrics:

Então é Natal, e o que você fez?
O ano termina, e nasce outra vez
Então é Natal, a festa Cristã
Do velho e do novo, do amor como um todo
Então bom Natal, e um ano novo também
Que seja feliz quem souber o que é o bem

Então é Natal, pro enfermo e pro são
Pro rico e pro pobre, num só coração
Então bom Natal, pro branco e pro negro
Amarelo e vermelho, pra paz afinal
Então bom Natal, e um ano novo também
Que seja feliz quem, souber o que é o bem

Então é Natal, o que a gente fez?
O ano termina, e começa outra vez
Então é Natal, a festa Cristã
Do velho e do novo, o amor como um todo
Então bom Natal, e um ano novo também
Que seja feliz quem, souber o que é o bem

Harehama, há quem ama
Harehama, ha
Então é Natal, e o que você fez?
O ano termina, e nasce outra vez
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Mururoa, ha…

É Natal, é Natal, é Natal

I’ve noticed I have already spoke about Simone’s Christmas album on the last year’s Christmas post here on the blog, but now I have an occasion to delve deeper into its meaning and significance…or not.

Simone’s album became a sort of (bad) tradition among Christmas celebrations in Brazil. Simone was born on 1949 and started her career around the 70s. She was always more of a pop singer, in the vein of Barbra Streisand or something like that. She was more famous in 80s, when she made a bunch of shows which broke attendance records. In the 90s I don’t know what else she did besides this Christmas album.

Susan Sontag famously wrote about camp, or the so-bad-it’s-good way of talking about some cultural products. I know that in English there is the word tacky, which can be related to vulgar. Tacky can be translated in Brazil as brega, but even brega has something noteworthy about it, at least as a musical movement in Brazilian pop history. Then there’s the word kitsch. I don’t know in which of the tree categories can Simone’s album be classified.

Actually, the idea behind the album came to her after realizing that Brazil doesn’t have a tradition of Christmas albums such as the ones that are released in the United States. So she recorded an whole album of Christmas, which was sold not only on record stores but also on supermarkets, newsstands, restaurants etc. So this is one of the most sold Brazilian albums, whose figures are counted in the millions and it is still edited every single Christmas.

I think there’s a reason why in Brazil the phonographic industry doesn’t revolve around Christmas. To begin with, our tradition is/was a lot different from that of the States. In the US, Christmas songs developed from Christmas carols, and the tradition of popular or neighborhood choirs is something that stands even now. In Brazil, religion and religious dates are not something to be sung upon. Then there’s the fact that December in Brazil is hot, so recording albums that people listening in their homes with their families doesn’t seem to make sense. Anyway, this album has stuck upon as a burden every Brazilian teenager has to face when their parents or relatives play it on Christmas celebrations.

But what about the lyrics to this one? Actually, it is a Portuguese recasting of “Happy X-Mas (War is Over)”, by John Lennon. The lyrics are really the same, with one exception:

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

War is over over
If you want it
War is over
Now…

The difference on the two versions of the song comes at the end. While John Lennon wrote a pacifist song related — I think — to the Vietnam War and everything that was happening in the 70s, Simone veered towards a mystical/scatological sense. While John Lennon writes

War is over over
If you want it
War is over
Now…

Simone says

Harehama, há quem ama
Harehama, ha
Então é Natal, e o que você fez?
O ano termina, e nasce outra vez
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Mururoa, ha…

The first two verses try to dabble on a Hare Krishna chant, and the last one just names places that were hit by atomic bombs: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Mururoa atoll, where France tested nuclear weapons in the 60s and 70s. I know that in a pacifist setting it sounds understandable to put references to nuclear explosion sites, but as this is a Christmas song recorded in the 90s, the overall feeling it creates is just of what the hell is going on here?

Anyway, merry Christmas to you all! I don’t know if I’ll keep up the pace of this blog in the next year (I really hope so), but let me just say I already have my next Christmas special programmed…

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