#33 – Os Mutantes – Bat Macumba

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

Lyrics:

Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba oh
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macum
Bat Macumba ê ê, Batman
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat
Bat Macumba ê ê, Ba
Bat Macumba ê ê
Bat Macumba ê
Bat Macumba
Bat Macum
Batman
Bat
Ba
Bat
Bat Ma
Bat Macum
Bat Macumba
Bat Macumba ê
Bat Macumba ê ê
Bat Macumba ê ê, Ba
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat
Bat Macumba ê ê, Batman
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macum
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba oh
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá
Bat Macumba ê ê, Bat Macumba obá!

No sense in translating this one, but I still find it one of the most amazing lyrics to any of these songs we’re dealing with. As you can see, the lyrics make a pattern; in fact, it is like half of the Brazilian flag. In this sense, it comes very close to Brazilian concretist poetry.

I’ve mentioned earlier the “Beba Coca-Cola” poem by Décio Pignatari. This one is similar. The concretist movement (not to confuse it with the musique concrète genre) rose to prominence in the mid-fifties when a bunch of intellectuals in São Paulo started experimenting with words and shapes. Their goal was to abolish the distinction between form and content, so in poetry they expressed themselves usually by making visual poems (later, Ferreira Gullar perfected the form) and relying heavily on word-play. It’s like they tried to use Western poetry to create ideograms (not unlike what Pound made using real ideograms in his works).

The cool thing is that concretismo had a pictorial branch too. It came to Brazil after World War II, when Brazil, through the São Paulo Biennials,  started to keep up the pace with European art. Some central European painters like Max Bill exhibited their works in São Paulo and it attracted a lot of attention. So Brazilian painters adopted and developed the concretism idiom, making geometrical works where the form is indistinct from the content and where the painter’s subjectivity is — at least they thought — almost null. It’s like they were trying to reach a point zero for painting. Painter Ivan Serpa (1923-1973), for instance, was one of those that adopted this style, as were Brazilian big-names like Alfredo Volpi (1896-1988) and Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980).

gouache-1956.jpg!Blog

What is interesting is that, while the concretos were based in São Paulo, towards the end of the 50s, the carioca (i.e., based in Rio de Janeiro) also started to develop ideas related to it. They founded the neoconcretista movement, in which the languages of abstraction were put in touch with the question of the viewer’s role in art and taking the painting from the canvas and bringing it to space, almost transforming it into a performance. Lygia Clark (1920-1988) and, once again, Hélio Oiticica were two members of this movement.

Lygia-Clark-Bicho-DSC0344

2430

I don’t know if all this was in Gil’s head when he “composed” Bat Macumba, but it’s some of the things we can think of to better understand it.

And by the way, I didn’t mentioned, but macumba are the public offerings made to the orixás in umbanda and candomblé traditions in Brazil.

Anúncios

#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

#22 – Gilberto Gil – Miserere nobis (1968)

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

Original lyrics:

Miserere nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis
É no sempre será, ô, iaiá
É no sempre, sempre serão

Já não somos como na chegada
Calados e magros, esperando o jantar
Na borda do prato se limita a janta
As espinhas do peixe de volta pro mar

Miserere nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis
É no sempre será, ô, iaiá
É no sempre, sempre serão

Tomara que um dia de um dia seja
Para todos e sempre a mesma cerveja
Tomara que um dia de um dia não
Para todos e sempre metade do pão

Tomara que um dia de um dia seja
Que seja de linho a toalha da mesa
Tomara que um dia de um dia não
Na mesa da gente tem banana e feijão

Miserere nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis
É no sempre será, ô, iaiá
É no sempre, sempre serão

Já não somos como na chegada
O sol já é claro nas águas quietas do mangue
Derramemos vinho no linho da mesa
Molhada de vinho e manchada de sangue

Miserere nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis
É no sempre será, ô, iaiá
É no sempre, sempre serão

Bê, rê, a – Bra
Zê, i, lê – zil
Fê, u – fu
Zê, i, lê – zil

Ora pro nobis

Translated lyrics:

Miserere nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis
É no sempre será, ô, iaiá
É no sempre, sempre serão

We are not how we were at first
Thin and quiet, waiting for dinner
The supper covers only the plate’s borders
Fish spines back to the sea

Miserere nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis
É no sempre será, ô, iaiá
É no sempre, sempre serão

Let’s hope one day a day will have
To all and always the same beer
Let’s hope one day a day won’t have
To all and always only a slice of bread

Let’s hope one day a day will have
Linen towels covering the tables
Let’s hope one day a day don’t
At our table there’s bean and bananas

Miserere nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis
É no sempre será, ô, iaiá
É no sempre, sempre serão

We are not how we were at first
The sun already shines on the mangue’s quiet water
Let’s pour wine at the table’s linen towels
Drenched in wine and blood stained

Miserere nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis
É no sempre será, ô, iaiá
É no sempre, sempre serão

Bê, rê, a – Bra
Zê, i, lê – zil
Fê, u – fu
Zê, i, lê – zil

Ora pro nobis

And so starts our round-up of the Tropicália album! I won’t speak anything more about it, as it is the most famous thing ever made under the Tropicália banner. So I go directly to the translation.

This is a tricky one, that’s why I decided not to translate the main chorus. In a word-for-word translation that would be just like that:

Miserere nobis,
Ora, ora pro nobs,
It’s how it will always be, ô, iaiá
It’s how it will always, they’ll ever be

I don’t think that’s a satisfying translation, as I can’t keep much of the poetry and rhythm of the original (as it often does on this blog). But the sense would be just like that. In Portuguese there’s no easy way to understand it either, so looking at the lyrics I only must say that it conveys a sense of loss and hopelessness. Once again, the lyrics are much more social and political than the psychedelia around it shows. This, I guess, has to do with what Glauber Rocha once said, in a misquote of Mayakovski, I guess, that without revolutionary form there is no revolutionary art. So, form and content are always related for them!

Just a note or two now. Where I say “slice of bread” the original says “metade do pão”. Metade is the word for half, but I thought that if I translated it for slice it would say more clearly that the subject is poorness and misery.

Afterwards, where it says “there’s bean and banana”, he really says this and not like that banana is a dessert. As you probably know, the Brazilian staple food is arroz e feijão, or rice with beans. It is common, though, in Northeastern and Southeastern Brazilian to mix arroz e feijão with banana. When I first saw this I found it kinda gross, but I must say it’s almost a perfect match.

farinha de muceque com feijão e banana

Finally, even if it looks awkward, I translated “Let’s hope one day a day will have” to keep the poetic word order of the original “Tomara que um dia um dia seja”. I could say more about the translation, but then I guess it would become very academical and boring. So here’s the first album translation.

See you all tomorrow.

PS: I almost forgot. The lyrics are composed by Gilberto Gil and José Carlos Capinam, the latter is also mentioned in Torquato Neto’s piece that I’ve translated yesterday.

PS 2: I haven’t translated the last lines of the lyrics too. The cool thing about they it’s that they form “Brazil fuzil”, which translates as “Rifle brazil”. A subtle message, eh?

#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.

#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: