Essa é pra tocar no rádio

Lyrics from “Essa é pra tocar no rádio” by Gilberto Gil
Album: Refazenda (1975)

Good audio version: Essa é pra tocar no rádio

This one is to be played on the radio…
This one is to be played on the radio…

This one is to beat the tedium
When it shows up
This one is a pure remedy
For a bad mood
This one is for the taxi driver
Not to doze off
This one is for the dear listener
From the countryside

This one is to be played on the radio
This one is to be played on the radio

This one is to leave home
To go to work
This one is for the boy at the shop
To have better sex
This one is for after lunch
Boy from the bar
This one is for the coy girl
To make love

This one is to play on the radio…
This one is to play on the radio…


— Interpretation —

In Gilberto Gil: Todas as LetrasGil explains that he wrote this song to satirize the selective process for songs to play on Brazilian radio. Particularly by the 1970s, when forms of mass media were becoming extremely specialized, radio stations were extraordinarily picky about the songs they played, judging them based on the station’s internal preferences and the culture of mass media in general. According to Gil, the song makes fun of the system wherein songs are only played on the radio because they’re hits, but they’re hits because they’re played on the radio — what he calls the vicious, hermetic cycle of the radio community.

Gil describes the song, then, as a joke on the radio community: “This one won’t be played on the radio, so this one is for the people at the radio stations, who don’t play the things that could be played; who don’t have space, nor time, nor a program to play everything, and have to play just a few things; those of you have to live that inadequacy, that confinement, that reductionism that’s necessary for the medium.”

At the same time, as a challenge, the song contains many elements that would make for a radio success, according to the norms at the time: the girl in the end, the boy who works at the shop, the taxi driver. The song was meant to set up this “game of opposites,” according to Gil, and the music itself also lends itself to the game, with a mix of funk — which Gil regards as the first time he worked with the explicit intention of using the genre — and rural northeastern sounds and rhythms.

Indeed, the song meant to be played on the radio was not selected to be played on the radio, although a few stations in Rio and São Paulo played it during certain alternative hours, according to Gil.

For more on Gil, see this previous post.

The source for this post is commentary by Gilberto Gil in Gilberto Gil: Todas as Letras, compiled by Carlos Remnó.


Post by Victoria Broadus (About)


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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