Samba da Bênção

Lyrics from “Samba da Bênção” by Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell

Album: Vinicius (1967)

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It’s better to be happy than to be sad

Happiness is the best thing that exists

It’s just like a light in your heart

But to make a samba with beauty

You need a lot of sorrow

You need a lot of sorrow

If not,  a samba can’t be made


If not, it’s like loving a woman who’s just beautiful

And from there?

A woman must have something – anything beyond beauty

A bit of sorrow

A bit that cries

A bit that feels longing

A beauty that comes from the sorrow

Of knowing that she’s a woman

Made only to love

To suffer for her love

And to be nothing but forgiveness


Making a samba isn’t like telling a joke

Whoever makes samba like that, isn’t anything

A good samba is a form of oration

Because samba is  sorrow that sways

And sorrow always has a hope, sorrow always has a hope

Of one day not being sad anymore.


Take these people who go around

Playing with life

Be careful, comrade!

This life counts,

And don’t be fooled, there’s just one!

Two lives, which would be good,  nobody can claim to have

Without proving really well

With a certificate stamped in the registry office of heaven

And signed at the bottom: God

And with a notarized signature!

Life isn’t a game, friend

Life is the art of the encounter

Even though there might be so much discord (dis-encounter)  in this life

There is always be a woman waiting for you

With her eyes full of tenderness

And her hands full of forgiveness.

Put a little bit of love in your life,

Like in your samba!


Put a little bit of love in a rhythm

And you’ll see that no one in the world can conquer

The beauty of a samba, no…

Because samba was born up in Bahia

And if today, it’s white in poetry,

If today it’s white in poetry

It’s oh-so black at heart.


I, for example, the Captain of the Bush

Vinicius de Moraes

Poet and Diplomat

The blackest white man in Brazil

In the direct lineage of Xangô, Saravá!

Blessing, senhora

The greatest ialorixá of Bahia

Land of Caymmi and João Gilberto.

Blessing, Pixinguinha

You, who cried through the flute all of my heartache …

Blessing, Sinhô, blessing, Cartola,

Blessing, Ismael Silva

Blessing, Heitor dos Prazeres

Blessing, Nelson Cavaquinho

Blessing, Geraldo Pereira

Blessing, my dear Cyro Monteiro

You, nephew of Nonô

Blessing, Noel, blessing, Ary

Blessing, all the great sambistas of Brazil

White, black, mulatto

Beautiful like the soft skin of Oxum

Blessing, master Antonio Carlos Jobim

Partner and dear friend

Who has already journeyed through so many songs with me

And there are still many to be traveled

Blessing, Carlinhos Lyra

Partner, one-hundred percent

You, who unite action with sentiment

And with thought.

Blessing, blessing, Baden Powell

New friend, new partner

Who made this samba with me

Blessing, friend

Blessing, master Moacir Santos

You’re not only one, you’re so many,

Like my Brazil of all saints

Even my San Sebastian

Saravá!  Blessing, I’m going to go

I’m going to say “adeus


Put a little love in a rhythm

And you’ll see that no one in the world can conquer

The beauty of a samba, no…

Because samba was born up in Bahia

And if today, it’s white in poetry

If today it’s white in poetry

It’s oh-so black at heart.

— Interpretation —

As he mentions in the lyrics, Vinicius de Moraes was not only a sambista but also a celebrated poet and diplomat (until the military government removed him from the foreign service in 1969).  Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1913, Moraes  wrote the lyrics for some of Brazil’s most well-known samba and bossa nova songs – including Garota de Ipanema and Eu não existo sem você.

Moraes collaborated with guitarrist Baden Powell on the 1966 album Os Afro-Sambas; many musicologists argue the LP marked a watershed moment in MPB because of its mix of African sounds with samba carioca (samba from Rio de Janeiro). “A samba da bênção,” released a year after Os Afro-Sambas, represented part of this collaboration. The song is a celebration of Afro-Brazilian music and African influence on contemporary samba. Vinicius states that samba is “oh-so black at heart” (“Ela é negra demais no coração), incorporates the Afr0-Brazilian salutation saravá – which is similar to the Brazilian interjection of “salve!” or literally “save!”  — and refers to ialorixá – a Macumba princess. The lyrics exemplify Moraes’s simple yet brilliant style: the song imparts a powerful message with such understated lines as “It’s better to be happy than to be sad” (“É melhor ser alegre que ser triste”) and “Sadness always has a hope of one day not being sad anymore” (“A tristeza tem sempre uma esperança de um dia não ser mais triste não”).

After a life full of passions — he married nine times — Vinicius de Moraes fell ill and died in 1980, at the age of 66, his health problems stemming from his overindulgence in the drink he called “a man’s best friend,” whiskey.

Post by Victoria Broadus (About)

Amor a Natureza

Lyrics from “Amor a Natureza” by Paulinho da Viola

Album: Coração Leviano


Relic of national folklore

A rare jewel that I present

In this landscape that I find myself

In the heart of passion and torment

Without any illusion

In this scene of sorrow

I recall moments of real bravery

Of those who fought with ardor

In the name of love for nature (bis.)

Ashen clouds of smoke

Moistening my eyes

With affliction and weariness

Immense blocks of concrete

Occupying every space

In what was once the most beautiful city

That the entire world consecrated

With her beaches, so beautiful, so full of grace, of dreams, of love

Contempt floats in the air

Flouting reason

Man doesn’t known if he’ll find a way to set the situation right

A seed thrown into such fertile soil oughtn’t die

It’s always a new hope that we all nurture to survive

—  Interpretation —

This song mourns the destruction of Rio de Janeiro’s natural beauty in the mid- to late-20th century, decades before such environmentalism became fashionable.  The song was released in 1975, when an oppressive military regime was in power in Brazil; the regime promoted ideals such as “modernity” and industrialization above any concerns about environmental protection or human rights.

The composer and singer Paulinho da Viola (roughly, Paulie the Guitarist) is one of Brazil’s most recognized and revered sambistas.  Born Paulo César Batista de Faria on November 12, 1942, in Rio de Janeiro, Paulinho is the son of another well-known sambista, the late César Faria.  Faria often played with such well-known names as Pixinguinha and Jacob do Bandolim; at home and around the neighborhood, Paulinho observed and learned from these samba masters, and began to write and play his own music.  At 22, while he was working in a bank in Rio de Janeiro, Paulinho was reunited with producer and composer Hermínio Bello de Carvalho, whom he had met years earlier through his father. The two began writing songs together.  Soon after, Paulinho left the bank to join the samba scene full time.

While other sambistas incorporated sharp political commentary into their lyrics — a defining characteristic of MPB — Paulinho generally stuck to traditonal samba themes such as love and longing, and his samba school Portela or the rival school, Mangueira.  Paulinho’s softspoken political stance — together with his gentle singing voice and easy smile — have perhaps contributed to his almost universal appeal throughout Brazil.

Post by Victoria Broadus (About)

Um Girassol da Cor do Seu Cabelo

Lyrics from “Um Girassol da Cor do Seu Cabelo” by Lô Borges, Márcio Borges

Album:  Clube da Esquina (1972)


Solar wind, and starfish
The blue land the color of your dress
Solar wind, and starfish
Do you still want to live with me?

If I sing, don’t cry
It’s only poetry
I only need to have you
For one more day.
I still like to dance
Good morning
How are you doing?

Sun, sunflower, green solar wind,
Do you still want to dance with me?
Solar wind and starfish,
A sunflower the color of your hair

If I die, don’t cry
It’s just the moon
It’s your dress the color of bare marvel
I still live on this same street.
How are you doing? Are you coming?
Or is it too late?

My thoughts are the color of your dress
Or a sunflower that’s the color of your hair


“Um Girassol da Cor do Seu Cabelo” was released in 1972  on the LP Clube da Esquina (the Corner Club) — the first LP by the musicians’ collective by the same name.   The collective Clube da Esquina was based in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, and three of its best-known participants are Milton Nascimento,Márcio Borges, and Lô Borges, alongside  Toninho Horta, Ronaldo Bastos, Monsueto, Ayrton Amorim,  Beto Guedes, Wagner Tiso, and Flávio Venturini.

Brothers Lô Borges (b.1952) and Márcio Borges (b. 1946) were born and raised in Belo Horizonte, in a family with eleven children and with two musically inclined parents.  Márcio spent much of his childhood and adolescence ill, which encouraged him to spend a great deal of time reading and writing, a habit that no doubt led him to his career as a lyricist.

Milton Nascimento was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1942; at age 3, he was adopted and brought to Tres Pontas, Minas Gerais.  In 1963 – one year before a military coup plunged Brazil into dictatorship for the next twenty-one years – Milton moved to Belo Horizonte.

Upon arrival in Belo Horizonte, Milton met Márcio Borges, who lived in the same apartment building – Edificio Levy. The two became fast friends. Márcio worked as a film critic at the time, and after seeing a screening of  François Truffaut‘s 1962 film Jules et Jim, he told Milton he must see the movie with him when it opened. The pair went to the Cine Tupi and watched three back-to-back showings — 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. Afterwards, they went home and began to write music together, with Milton composing the music and Márcio writing the lyrics.  From that point on, the two played a central role in the music produced by Clube da Esquina. Clube da Esquina, in turn, had a profound influence on the incipient Brazilian popular music (MPB) movement, particularly because of the group’s eclectic, experimental sounds.  “Um Girassol da Cor do seu Cabelo” is one of the most well-known tracks from Clube da Esquina.

Post by Victoria Broadus (About)