Ruas que sonhei

Lyrics from “Ruas que sonhei” by Paulinho da Viola

Album: Sinal Fechado (EP, 1969) and Foi um rio que passou em minha vida (1970)

The sun that beats on the sidewalk this afternoon
Didn’t bring the day that my gaze yearns for
And it takes away the consolation of the morenas’ gazes
Just when it’s time to smile and make love
All the beauty that was here on this road
A short while ago, a wind blew and carried it off
And many people dressed up in cheerfulness
Go on feigning every day that the sorrow already passed…

Love, keep track of time
While I make a sad samba to sing
I show you life to change your smile
I give you my samba with the urge to cry
Love, happiness
Is the secret that I told you the other day
The sun that dies on hair of the morenas
One day rises over the roads that I dreamed of…

Repeat

— Interpretation —

This song was released in the wake of the military government’s Institutional Act V (AI-5), together with Paulinho’s better known “protest samba,” “Sinal Fechado.”

AI-5, issued on December 13, 1968, brought about the immediate forced closure of Brazil’s National Congress; heightened censorship of all journalism and the arts;  criminalization of political meetings not authorized by the police; and the suspension of habeas corpus for politically motivated crimes, along with a litany of other authoritarian policies. (You can read a bit more about AI-5 in the post on Valsinha.)

In “Ruas que sonhei” (Roads that I dreamed of), Paulinho’s lyrics seem to lament the climate of oppression and denial that enshrouded Brazil during the military dictatorship, particularly after AI-5. The “morena” – a dark-skinned woman of mixed racial descent – is a common symbol in samba lyics, often representing Brazil’s national identity. (Lamartine Babo‘s Carnaval song “Linda morena” (Beautiful Morena), from 1932, could be considered an early example of this exaltation of morenas in Brazilian popular music.)

The song maintains a hopeful tone; the final line literally translates to “The sun that dies on the hair of the morenas/One day is born over the roads that I dreamed of.”

More posts on Paulinho da Viola: “Amor à Natureza” and “Sei lá, Mangueira.”

Post by Victoria Broadus (About)

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About lyricalbrazil

My name is Victoria Broadus and in early 2012 I moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Brazil - first São Paulo, and now Rio de Janeiro. I began studying Portuguese while working toward a Master's degree in Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, and have since become fluent. I love Brazilian music and want to be able to share it with more people, so I'm working on translating songs to English and providing some contextual interpretation and stories about the songs and the musicians.
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