#41 – Jorge Ben – Zumbi (1974)

from A Tábua de Esmeralda (Philips, 1974)

Original lyrics:

Angola Congo Benguela
Monjolo Cabinda Mina
Quiloa Rebolo
Aqui onde estão os homens
Há um grande leilão
Dizem que nele há
Um princesa à venda
Que veio junto com seus súditos
Acorrentados num carro de boi
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver
Angola Congo Benguela
Monjolo Cabinda Mina
Quiloa Rebolo
Aqui onde estão os homens
Dum lado cana de açúcar
Do outro lado o cafezal
Ao centro senhores sentados
Vendo a colheita do algodão tão branco
Sendo colhidos por mãos negras
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver
Quando Zumbi chegar
O que vai acontecer
Zumbi é senhor das guerras
É senhor das demandas
Quando Zumbi chega e Zumbi
É quem manda
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver

Translated lyrics:

Angola, Congo, Benguela
Monjolo, Cabinda, Mina
Quiloa, Rebolo
Here where the men stand
There’s a big auction
People say that here is
A princess for sale
Who came with her subjects
Chained to a bullock cart
I want to see
I want to see
I want to see
Angola, Congo, Benguela
Monjolo, Cabinda, Mina
Quiloa, Rebolo
Here where the men stand
One side there’s a sugar plantation
On the other there’s coffee
In the middle the slavemasters are sitted
Watching the white cotton
Being picked by black hands
I want to see
I want to see
I want to see
When Zumbi comes
What will happen then
Zumbi is a lord of war
He’s a lord of needs
When Zumbi arrives
Zumbi will take charge
I want to see
I want to see
I want to see

This is one of my all-time favorite songs and I just love how much “swing” Jorge Ben can put on the first two or three lines. I have a theory that the only guy who can play the guitar like Jorge Ben is Microphones/Mt. Eerie leader Phil Elverum. I don’t know why, but Elverum seems to play with the loose strings just like Jorge Ben always does. The swing is in the hand and on the melody, and not on the beat, if it may be more easy to understand my point. Later I’ll talk more about Jorge Ben and this album in particular, however.

While I was translating this song I was reminded of 12 Years a Slave. The song has such powerful imagery, like the African princess being sold with her subjects on the market or the white cotton being picked by black hands while the slave owners just sit and watch. It is easy to find out what is the subject of the song.

Zumbi, however, is not a zombie, but the name of the most famous fighter against white Portuguese domination in colonial Brazil. Zumbi was the last leader of the Quilombo dos Palmares, in the mid-seventeeth century. The quilombos were settlements created by fugitive slaves, usually in very remote locations. Zumbi became a symbol of the resistance against slavery when he led the negros to two victories and another fierce fight against Paulistas bandeirantes, at the end of which the quilombo fell to the Portuguese. The date when Palmares fell, November 20th, became a holiday on most Brazilian states.

There are still quilombos throughout Brazil, even on urban zones. Porto Alegre, where I live, has recognized the existence of 15 or 20 quilombos in its urban perimeter. The quilombos, however, were easily erased from local public memory.

“Zumbi” is a powerful song and it remains a long time in the head. Just to add to the overall theme, the names recited in the first verses are of African peoples or the origins that the African slaves were given when they arrived. So Angola, Mina and the others indicate from where the slave came. They were specially prized according to their culture and abilities in the colonial and imperial centuries in Brazil (remember that Brazil had an empire in the nineteenth century), just like in 12 Years a Slave most of the slaves were treated differently according to what they knew how to do or their relationship with others.

Caetano Veloso also recorded a version of this song on his Noites do Norte album, which you can listen below:

Anúncios

#35 – Caetano Veloso – Hino ao Senhor do Bonfim

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circensis (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

glória a ti neste dia de glória
glória a ti redentor que há cem anos
nossos pais conduziste à vitória
pelos mares e campos baianos

desta sagrada colina
mansão da misericórdia
dai-nos a graça divina
da justiça e da concórdia

glória a ti nessa altura sagrada
és o eterno farol, és o guia
és, senhor, sentinela avançada
és a guardo imortal da bahia.

dessa sagrada colina
mansão da misericórdia
dai-nos a graça divina
da justiça e da concórdia

aos teus pés que nos deste o direito
aos teus pés que nos deste a verdade
trata e exulta num férvido preito
a alma em festa da nossa cidade

desta sagrada colina
mansão da misericórdia
dai-nos a graça divina
da justiça e da concórdia

Translated lyrics:

Thy glory on this glorious day
Thy glory our redeemer that
Since a century ago led our fathers
To victory through the seas and fields
Of Bahia

From this sacred hill
House of mercy
Give us the divine grace
Of peace and justice

Thy glory at this sacred height
You’re the everlasting guiding light
You’re the guide, you are, Lord,
The sentinel, you are the eternal
Guardian of Bahia

From this sacred hill
House of mercy
Give us the divine grace
Of peace and justice

At your feet that gave us the right
At your feet that give us truth
Cure and rejoice in our faithful service
The celebrating soul of your city

The final track of the album couldn’t be more traditional (at least in its source). It’s like Caetano Veloso and the Tropicalists are reasserting that they come — most of them, at least — from a specific place: Bahia. It’s the Bahian invasion to Southern Brazil!

This hymn was composed in 1923 by Arthur Salles e João. It is both a religious as a politically official composition, serving as a state hymn to Bahia. It was composed to celebrate the Igreja Nosso Senhor do Bonfim, or, in a translation, Church of Our Lord of the Good Death (bom fim meaning “good end”), the largest church in the city of 365 churches.

——————————-

I hope you have enjoyed the ride through Tropicália. It will surely continue, but only after Carnival. Because, you know, the year only starts after Ash Wednesday.

 

#34 – Gal Costa – Mamãe, Coragem (1968)

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circensis (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
A vida é assim mesmo
Eu fui embora
Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
Eu nunca mais vou voltar por aí
Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
A vida é assim mesmo
Eu quero mesmo é isto aqui

Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
Pegue uns panos pra lavar
Leia um romance
Veja as contas do mercado

Pague as prestações
Ser mãe
É desdobrar fibra por fibra
Os corações dos filhos
Seja feliz
Seja feliz

Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
Eu quero, eu posso, eu quis, eu fiz
Mamãe, seja feliz
Mamãe, mamãe, não chore
Não chore nunca mais, não adianta
Eu tenho um beijo preso na garganta

Eu tenho um jeito de quem não se espanta
(Braço de ouro vale 10 milhões)
Eu tenho corações fora peito
Mamãe, não chore
Não tem jeito
Pegue uns panos pra lavar
Leia um romance
Leia “Alzira morta virgem”
“O grande industrial”

Eu por aqui vou indo muito bem
De vez em quando brinco Carnaval

E vou vivendo assim: felicidade
Na cidade que eu plantei pra mim
E que não tem mais fim
Não tem mais fim
Não tem mais fim

Translated ones:

Mother, mother, don’t cry
That’s how life is
I need to go

Mother, mother, don’t cry
I’ll never come back
Mother, mother, don’t cry
That’s how life is
What I want is really this

Mother, mother, don’t cry
Take some clothes to wash
Read a novel
See the grocery bill

Pay the installments
To be a mother means
Unravelling little by little
Your son’s hearts
Be happy
Be happy

Mother, mother, don’t cry
I want it, I can make it, I wanted it, I did it
Mother, be well
Mother, mother, don’t cry
Don’t you cry ever more, it doesn’t help
I have a kiss stuck in my throat

I’m not easily scared
(A gold arm is worth 10 million bucks)
I have a heart and a chest
Mother, don’t cry
It doesn’t help
Take some clothes to wash
Read a novel
Read “Alzira, the dying virgin”
Or “The great industry man”

Here I’m doing quite fine
Once in a while I party

And that’s how I live: with joy
At the city I’ve created myself
And that doesn’t have an end
It doesn’t have an end
It doesn’t have an end

Second Gal Costa cut from the album. This one was composed by Caetano Veloso and Torquato Neto, whose “Tropicalism for Beginners” we have already read before. I don’t have much to say about it, except that it’s a beautiful track.

Tomorrow I’ll end the album (yes, I know, “Geléia Geral” is still missing) and in the first days of the next week I’ll make a Carnival special. After all, there is nothing so much Brazilian as a good Carnival.

#31 – Caetano Veloso – Enquanto seu lobo não vem (1968)

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circensis (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Vamos passear na floresta escondida, meu amor
Vamos passear na avenida
Vamos passear nas veredas, no alto meu amor
Há uma cordilheira sob o asfalto

(Os clarins da banda militar…)
A Estação Primeira da Mangueira passa em ruas largas
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Passa por debaixo da Avenida Presidente Vargas
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Presidente Vargas, Presidente Vargas, Presidente Vargas
(Os clarins da banda militar…)

Vamos passear nos Estados Unidos do Brasil
Vamos passear escondidos
Vamos desfilar pela rua onde Mangueira passou
Vamos por debaixo das ruas

(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Debaixo das bombas, das bandeiras
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Debaixo das botas
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Debaixo das rosas, dos jardins
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Debaixo da lama
(Os clarins da banda militar…)
Debaixo da cama

Translated lyrics:

Let’s take a walk on the hidden forest, my darling
Let’s strode through the avenue
Let’s go through the country, my love, up there
There is a mountain range below the tarmac

(The military band plays…)
Estação Primeira da Mangueira parades through large streets
(The military band plays…)
It passes right below Presidente Vargas avenue
(The military band plays…)
President Vargas, President Vargas, President Vargas
(The military band plays…)

Let’s talk a walk throught the United States
Let’s go undercover
Let’s parade where Mangueira went
Let’s go beneath the streets

(The military band plays…)
Under the bombs, under the banners
(The military band plays…)
Under the boots
(The military band plays…)
Under the roses in the gardens
(The military band plays…)
Under the mud
(The military band plays…)
Under the bed

Another Caetano Veloso cut from the 1968 album and actually I don’t have much to say about it. Only that the military band going through the streets playing under (or over) everything reminds me, of course, of censorship and other horrible things in Brazilian dictatorship. It made me think of famous Chico Buarque’s song called “A Banda”, which I’ll translate tomorrow, because this blog has been too long without a Chico Buarque song.

As for the translation, it is not a hard one. I made some slight changes, though. One of the more important is that the original says “Os clarins da banda militar“, and not exactly “The military band plays”. The clarim is the same thing as a bugle, as you can see below.

clarim

 

And it is not for another reason that the Marvel-universe newspaper, the one where Peter Parker works, is called in Brazil “O clarim diário”, or The daily bugle.

Clarim Diário cópia

 

Another change I’ve made is that I translated vereda as country, as vereda means a track cut through the country’s vegetation. In Brazil, it is usually spoke of as a way through, in an almost metaphorical sense. Probably this is because of the masterpiece written by Guimarães Rosa called Grande Sertão: Veredas. Published in 1956, it is one of the chief works of Brazilian literature, and Rosa is a genius when it comes to language and language play. I can honestly say it is on the same level as Joyce’s Ulysses. The book has been translated with the name The Devil to Pay in the Backlands, which is just a great way to express what goes through the book.

#30 – Gilberto Gil & Caetano Veloso – Três Caravelas (1968)

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circenses (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Un navegante atrevido
Salió de Palos un día
Iba con tres carabelas
La Pinta, la Niña y la Santa María

Hacia la tierra cubana
Con toda sua valentía
Fue con las tres carabelas
La Pinta, la Niña y la Santa María

Muita coisa sucedeu
Daquele tempo pra cá
O Brasil aconteceu
É o maior
Que que há?!

Um navegante atrevido
Saiu de Palos um dia
Vinha com três caravelas
A Pinta, a Nina e a Santa Maria

Em terras americanas
Saltou feliz certo dia
Vinha com três caravelas
A Pinta, a Nina e a Santa Maria

Mira, tu, que cosas pasan
Que algunos años después
En esta tierra cubana
Yo encontré a mí querer

Viva el señor don Cristóbal
Que viva la patria mía
Vivan las tres carabelas
La Pinta, la Niña y la Santa María

Viva Cristóvão Colombo
Que para nossa alegria
Veio com três caravelas
A Pinta, a Nina e a Santa Maria
(La Pinta, la Niña y la Santa María)

Translated lyrics:

A bold sailor went out one day
He sailed three caravels
Each one called Pinta, Niña and Santa Maria

Towards the cuban sea
With all braveness he sailed
The three caravels
La Pinta, la Ninã y la Santa Maria

Many things happened since that time
Brasil has happened
It’s the biggest there is?!

A bold sailor went out of Palos one day
He sailed three caravels
Each one called Pinta, Niña and Santa Maria

On american lands
He landed happily one day
He came with three caravels
La Pinta, la Ninã y la Santa Maria

Look, thou, what is happening
Some years later on this cuban soil
I found who wanted me

Long live el señor dom Cristóvão
Long live my country
Long live the three caravels
La Pinta, la Ninã y la Santa Maria

Long live Cristóvão Colombo
That for our joy came
With the three caravels
Pinta, Niña and Santa Maria

This song is a cover of a cover.

Actually, it is a song written in 1956 by Catalunian composer and arranger Augusto Algueró. Below, you can find a Spanish version of the song in what’s probably the rhythm it was intended to be performed.

The song soon received a Portuguese version by the great marchinhas composer João de Barros (a guy which next week we’ll get the chance to know more about). I’ve found this rendition of it performed by the radio-era star Emilinha Barbosa:

In Caetano and Gil’s voices, however, the song gets a very explicit ironic content, as they sing that Brazil is the biggest thing there is. When they sing, this mimics the military rhetorics about Brazil.

As the song makes it explicit, it is about Columbus, called in Brazil Cristóvão Colombo. The subject of discovery, however, is crucial to Brazilian identity, especially when it comes to think of its relation to Brazilian indigenous peoples. It is still a common topic to think of the Portuguese arrival as a discovery and not as a conquest, as the Spanish-speaking countries later developed the notion. It is still believed that Brazil was discovered by accident!

Anyway, in the nineteenth century the Brazilian Empire exploited the subject for political reason. It sponsored nationalistic art, especially conceding scholarships to Brazilian painters and intellectuals. One of the works of art that come of it is the very famous painting by Victor Meirelles (1832-1903) called A Primeira Missa no Brasil (The first mass in Brazil). The painting is still reproduced in school textbooks in Brazil. It is a noteworthy painting not only because of its political connotations, creating a visual representation to Brazil’s founding moment, but also because of its dimensions (268 cm x 356 cm) and its technical expertise.

Meirelles-primeiramissa2

The painting was revisited many times in Brazilian art, one of the most famous was by Brazilian high-modernist hero Cândido Portinari (1903-1962) in the 40s.

portinari

In the late eighties and early nineties, the painter Glauco Rodrigues made a series of reinterpretations of the painting in a Tropicalist tone. Just to remind that Tropicália wasn’t only about music:

glauco 01

glauco 02

#29 – Caetano Veloso & Gal Costa – Baby

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circenses (Phillips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Você precisa
Saber da piscina
Da margarina
Da Carolina
Da gasolina
Você precisa
Saber de mim
Baby, baby
Eu sei
Que é assim
Baby, baby
Eu sei
Que é assim

Você precisa
Tomar um sorvete
Na lanchonete
Andar com gente
Me ver de perto
Ouvir aquela canção
Do Roberto
Baby, baby
Há quanto tempo
Baby, baby
Há quanto tempo

Você precisa
Aprender inglês
Precisa aprender
O que eu sei
E o que eu
Não sei mais
E o que eu
Não sei mais

Não sei
Comigo
Vai tudo azul
Contigo
Vai tudo em paz
Vivemos
Na melhor cidade
Da América do Sul
Da América do Sul   
Você precisa
Você precisa…

Não sei
Leia
Na minha camisa
Baby, baby
I love you
Baby, baby
I love you…

Translated lyrics:

You need to know
About the vaseline
About the margarine
About Caroline
About gasoline
You need to know
About me
Baby, baby
I know that’s the way it is

You need to know
About the ice cream
On the dream
[You need] To walk among people
See me close
Listen to that Roberto [Carlos] song
Baby, baby
How long has it been

You need
To learn English
You need to learn
What I earned
And what I don’t
Already have

I don’t know
With me
Everything’s fine
With you
Everything’s nice
We live
On the best city
Of South America
You need
You need…

I don’t know
Read my shirt
Baby, baby
I love you
Baby, baby
I love you…

This is one of my favorite songs on the album and one the most beautiful. I made a number of alterations as the song doesn’t really have a meaning, but it has a very strong rhyme which is sometimes almost hypnotic on its repetition. It’s a great song in every way that one can conceive a great song.

I read an account by Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson on his all-time favorite albums and he says that this song is what converted him to Brazilian music. As he says, “It’s experimental, but it’s great songs. That’s what really kills me. It’s easy to make experimental music, but it’s hard to make a good song. And when you combine the two like this whole movement did, it just blows my mind.” That’s a great definition of the whole Tropicália thing

As for the translation, in the start of the song I changed “piscina”, which would be rendered as pool, for vaseline. There’s no reason for this besides a strange association with that Flaming Lips’ song and the fact that I can keep the words rhyming with it. Later, I’ve made the song even more oneiric rendering “na lanchonete”, which means exactly what it seems, for “on the dream”, which is the only word that came to my mind to keep the song afloat. The reason I did this was just to have some fun, as I think that making a word-for-word translation wouldn’t make much of a sense.

As a last note, by the end of the song she sings “Vai tudo azul”. This means that everything is fine. In Brazil people also say “Alles blau”, especially where I live, in South Brazil, where there is a strong German presence on the overall culture. I never saw any real German saying “Alles blau”, but maybe there is that saying over there too. What I find interesting is that azul is the color blue, which in English conveys sadness and melancholy but which in Brazil expresses joy and fulfillment.And yes, I know I’ve skipped Gilberto Gil’s “Geléia Geral”, but I found it so hard to translate that I’ll only post it at the end of this album.

#23 – Caetano Veloso – Coração Materno

from Tropicália, ou Panis et Circensis (Philips, 1968)

Original lyrics:

Disse o campônio a sua amada
Minha idolatrada diga o que qués?
Por ti vou matar, vou roubar
Embora tristezas me causes mulher
Provar quero eu que te quero
Venero teus olhos teu porte, teu ser
Mas diga tua ordem espero
Por ti não importa matar ou morrer
E ela disse ao compônio a brincar
Se é verdade tua louca paixão
Partes já e pra mim vá buscar
De tua mãe inteiro o coração
E a correr o campônio partiu
Como um raio na estrada sumiu
E sua amada qual louca ficou
A chorar na estrada tombou
Chega à choupana o campônio
Encontra a mãezinha ajoelhada a rezar
Rasga-lhe o peito o demônio
Tombando a velhinha aos pés do altar
Tira do peito sagrando da velha mãezinha
O pobre coração e volta a correr proclamando
Vitória, vitória tem minha paixão
Mais em meio da estrada caiu
E na queda uma perna partiu
E a distância saltou-lhe da mão
Sobre a terra o pobre coração
Nesse instante uma voz ecoou
Magoou-se pobre filho meu
Vem buscar-me filho, aqui estou
Vem buscar-me que ainda sou teu!

Translated lyrics:

Said the peasant to his wife
My worshipped one, tell me what you want
For you I’d kill, I’d steal
Even if you make me miserable
I want to show you how much I want you
I praise your eyes, your ways, your way
Only give me an order, I’ll wait
For you it doesn’t matter if I kill or if I die

And then she said playing with the peasant
If your crazy passion for me is real
Leave me now and bring to me
Your mother’s very heart

So the peasant went away
Like a lightning he stroke the road
But his loved one went mad
She fell by the side of the road crying

The peasant returned home
He found his mother praying on her knees
Then he tears her chest
The old woman falls by the altar
He rips her mother’s bleeding heart
And quicky goes back screaming
I did it, I did it, my love

But then on the middle of tthe road he fell,
And at the landing he broke his leg,
And his poor mother’s heart flew away

At this moment a voice roared
My poor son is sad
Come rescue me, son
Come rescue me that I’m still yours

The first Caetano Veloso cut on the album and once again the subject is country life, although in a very dramatic way. I don’t know if this is correct, but maybe you can find some differences between the approaches the guys up North (from Bahia, I’m saying) have and that of the Southeast city guys, like Os Mutantes. Maybe there’s no connection, as Gil, Caetano or any other baiano that became famous that time were peasants themselves, they were very middle class, urban and educated individuals with a strong poetic and artistic inclination. Anyway, it’s cool to see how “country”-themed songs can be written without the songwriter falling into the “rock rural”-The Band thing neither just making a rural psychedelia.

This song prompted me to write about something and I’m already sorry for it, but as I’m a historian, I find it very interesting.

The 60s, as you may know, was a very turbulent decade in modern Brazil history. Its first president, Jânio Quadros, renounced for almost unknown reasons, and he was succeeded by his vice-president, João “Jango” Goulart, which was a much more reformist-inclined president then the former one. Jango was the political godson of Brazilian political legend Leonel Brizola, which exploited (for very good reasons) the political legend of Getúlio Vargas, the main political figure of the first half of the twentieth-century in Brazil. Vargas was nicknamed “father of the poor” and he was very popular because he improved the worker’s conditions (actually, he was the first Brazilian president who gave a thought about it). In the sixties, this conjuncture led to a polarization between the politicians who based themselves on the demands of the workers, and which come close, through Jango’s attempt to establish the reformas de base (structural reforms, like distribution of lands to the peasants), to socialism and communism (at least in the eyes of the opposition), and those politicians who were very conservative and who exploited the fears of the middle class. Needless to say, the almost-socialist guys were also educated urban middle class, just like much of what’s happening in the Arab world right now.

What this all leads us is that until 1964, the date of the Brazilian military coup, the Communist Party enjoyed a huge prestige and it had established the CPC’s (Centro Popular de Cultura, or, Popular Culture Center), which were gatherings that tried to teach workers and mostly peasants about their social condition and how they could improve it and resist it. They were very centered and one must say much of the CPC initiatives assumed a very magisterial tone, but nonetheless they looked upon this often forgotten part of Brazilian population. They also tried to use tradition forms of peasant culture, like autos (one-act theatrical plays) and cordel (the traditional story writing of Northeastern sertão).

What Tropicália tried to achieve was to break away from this magisterial tone and its search of a purity of the so-called popular culture and to assume that Brazil was a modernizing country, with lots of different influences, most of them regarded as bad by the CPC’s (like television and American music) . As I’ve said before, there could only be revolutionary art through a revolutionary form.

This conflict, actually, updates another one from the early Brazilian modernist movement, the one between the anthropophagical appropriation and the search for an authentic Brazilian culture. Funny thing is, the former went to the Communist Party in the 40s, and the latter associated themselves with the right-wing authoritarian movement that appeared the same time. Just to see how things change.

Anyway, it’s this conflict which is behind famous Caetano Veloso’s ranting about it’s forbidden to forbid, as the festivals usually until then favored the guitar-playing guys singing protest or “popular” songs, and not the Tropicália avant-garde.

End of history lesson. Just to relax, now, I must say that that line about the guy ripping his mother’s heart reminded me of the second movie of the Indiana Jones series, and so I’ll finish this post with it!