Lapinha

Lyrics from “Lapinha” by Baden Powell and Paulo César Pinheiro (1968)

Good Audio Version (Elis Regina)

When I die, bury me in Lapinha
When I die, bury me in Lapinha
Britches, suit jacket, shoulder pads
Britches, suit jacket, shoulder pads
Go, my wail, go tell of all the sorrow of living
Ah, the truth always betrays
And sometimes brings more evil
Ay, it just tore me up
Seeing so many people give in
But I didn’t give up
Going against the law
I know that I didn’t regret it
I have just one request
My final, perhaps, before departing…

When I die, bury me in Lapinha
When I die, bury me in Lapinha
Britches, suit jacket, shoulder pads
Britches, suit jacket, shoulder pads

(Repeat)

Go away, my pain
Get away from me
There are so many evil hearts
Ay, it’s so maddening
For love to lose to indifference
Ay, so many problems I saw, I fought
And as a loser, I screamed
That I’m just one man
Without knowing how to change
I’ll never hurt again
I have just one request
My final, perhaps, before departing…

When I die, bury me in Lapinha
When I die, bury me in Lapinha
Britches, suit jacket and shoulder pads
Britches, suit jacket and shoulder pads

Good Bye Bahia, zum zum zum
Cordão de Ouro
I’m going to leave because they killed my Besouro

— Interpretation —

Manoel Henrique Pereira, better known as Besouro Mangangá – or “Cordão de Ouro” (gold chain) – was Brazil’s most legendary capoeirista during the first half of the twentieth century. His dramatic death by stabbing, allegedly from behind, at the age of twenty-four reinforced his idolization within the capoeira world, and earned him a number of popular capoeira songs, including “My Besouro,” with the refrain: “Quando eu morrer, me enterre na Lapinha/ Calça-culote paletó almofadinha.” (“When I die, bury me in Lapinha/ Britches suit jacket shoulder pads”)

Baden Powell heard the Bahian capoeira master Canjiquinha singing this song, along with the girl group Quarteto em Cy, and decided to use its refrain for his next afro-samba, which would compete in TV Record’s First Samba Festival. (He had released the album Os Afro-Sambas with Vinicius de Moraes two years prior.) In the spirit of the new festival — which was launched in response to complaints about the lack of samba in MPB festivals — Powell chose a new partner for the song, the nineteen-year-old lyricist Paulo César Pinheiro, whom he met through his cousin, Pinheiro’s partner João de Aquino. With Elis Regina‘s dramatic performance at the festival, the song took first place.

Dorival Caymmi explained that Lapinha refers to Salvador’s Largo da Lapinha, where civic festivals traditionally took place. Lapinha probably became the chosen burial ground in the song because of its festive tradition and, more superficially, because it rhymed with “almofadinha” (“shoulder pads”). It is also speculated that “calça culote” may be a corruption of original lyrics “calça, colete,” which would change the lyrics slightly,  from “britches” to “slacks, vest.”

Mangangá is the name for a hornet with a particularly painful sting, and in northeastern Brazil is also the name for a giant beetle that eats certain types of wood. The nickname to this day is still used to refer to someone who’s powerful and dangerous.

Baden Powell de Aquino was born near Rio de Janeiro in 1937, son of the cobbler Lilo de Aquino and Adelina. He was named after the British founder of the Scout Movement, Robert Baden-Powell. He demonstrated musical talent at an early age, playing around first with his father’s violin and then on a new guitar, which he learned to play right-handed even though he was left-handed. By age nine he made his first national solo performance, winning first place for best guitar solo on Renato Murce’s program “Papel Carbono” on Radio Nacional. Around age twelve he entered Rio de Janeiro’s National School of Music, and by thirteen he was playing at dances around Rio de Janeiro.  He met and worked with illustrious musicians like Ary Barroso and Pixinguinha at a very young age, and became perhaps best known for his prolific partnerships with Vinicius de Moraes and Paulo César Pinheiro. He died in 2000.

Pinheiro, born in Rio de Janeiro in 1949, composed his earliest songs with Powell’s cousin, João de Aquino, in the mid-1960s. His career as a lyricist took off after Elis Regina performed “Lapinha” at the 1968 Samba festival and he developed a lasting partnership with Powell.

Capoeira group sings about Besouro Mangangá

Largo da Lapinha in Salvador, Bahia, c. 1960.
Besouro Mangangá playing capoeira in Bahia

Lyrics in Portuguese

Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha,
Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Vai meu lamento vai contar
Toda tristeza de viver
Ai a verdade sempre trai
E às vezes traz um mal a mais
Ai só me fez dilacerar
Ver tanta gente se entregar
Mas não me conformei
Indo contra lei
Sei que não me arrependi
Tenho um pedido só
Último talvez, antes de partir
Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha,
Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Sai minha mágoa
Sai de mim
Há tanto coração ruim
Ai é tão desesperador
O amor perder do desamor
Ah tanto erro eu vi, lutei
E como perdedor gritei
Que eu sou um homem só
Sem saber mudar
Nunca mais vou lastimar
Tenho um pedido só
Último talvez, antes de partir
Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha,
Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Adeus Bahia, zum-zum-zum
Cordão de ouro

The main source for this post was A Canção no Tempo: 85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras vol. 2, by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello.

3 thoughts on “Lapinha”

  1. Hi Victoria, I may have missed it but I noticed that your site does not have a capoeira nor a candomble (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candombl%C3%A9) category. I would love to see more songs and song translation/background information in those categories. Mestre Barrao (http://axecapoeira.com/about/mestre-barrao) is based out of Vancouver, Canada and has lots of recordings. Also, I think, amongst others, Clara Nunes has does some candomble songs.

    Thanks in advance.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s