Quem Me Vê Sorrindo

Lyrics from “Quem Me Vê Sorrindo” by Cartola

Album:  Cartola (1974)

He who sees me smiling thinks that I’m happy

But my smile is for consolation

Because I know how to hold back, for no one to see

The weeping of my heart

That I shed (tears) for this love, perhaps

You didn’t understand, and if I say so, you don’t believe it

After being crushed,  still sobbing

I became cheerful, and I’m singing

He who sees me smiling thinks that I’m happy

But my smile is for consolation

Because I know how to hold back,  for no one to see

The weeping of my heart

I understood the error of all humanity

Some cry out of pleasure, and others out of longing

I swore – and I will never break my vow

I will hide every cry

He who sees me smiling…

— Interpretation —

Another jewel from Cartola, reminding himself and his listeners not to wallow in their sorrows. This was among the first songs Cartola ever recorded:

In 1940, the world-renowned maestro Leopold Stokowski embarked on the American goodwill ship S.S. Uruguay with the All American Youth Orchestra, which he had organized, and a group of technicians from Columbia records.  The delegation was helping to carry out  President Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy, intended to improve relations between the United States and Latin America during World War II.

Stokowski’s delegation traveled to Latin America to perform and record regional music from each country, which would then be contributed to an album and an upcoming Pan-American Folklore Conference. Unfamiliar with Brazilian music, Stokawski asked the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos to help him choose and gather the country’s most talented musicians. Villa Lobos, to this day considered as perhaps Brazil’s most brilliant classical composer, recommended Cartola.

Aboard the S.S. Uruguay, Cartola recorded his songs for the first time with the team from Columbia records.  He sang “Meu amor,” “Primeiro amor,”  “Tristeza,” and “Quem me vê sorrir”;  “Quem me vê sorrir” made the final cut, and was released on the album Columbia Presents – Native Brazilian Music – Leopold Stokowski.  

The album didn’t reach Brazil, and Cartola only heard it many years later. But a year and a half after recording, he received a small sum in payment — enough to buy three packs of cheap cigarettes.

Remarking on the album, Carlos Drummond de Andrade observed, “By recording [Cartola’s] samba “Quem me vê sorrir” (with Carlos Cachaça), the maestro Leopold Stokowski didn’t do Cartola any favors; he just recognized how much musical inventiveness can be found in the most humble tiers of our population.”

On the 1974 album Cartola, the song’s title is “Quem me vê sorrindo.”

To see more on Cartola’s life and music, take a look at these posts.

Main source for this post: Cartola: Os Tempos Idos by Marília Barboza da Silva and Arthur de Oliveira Filho

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