Lyrics from “Se acaso você chegasse” by Lupicínio Rodrigues and Felisberto Martins (1938)
Original release – Carnaval, 1938
Good Audio Version (Elza Soares)
If perchance you were to arrive at my cottage and find
That woman that you liked
Would you have the courage to trade our friendship
For she who already abandoned you?
I say this because that lady already lives in my shack
At the edge of a creek and a forest in bloom
By day she washes my clothes, by night she kisses my mouth
And that’s how we go on living from love.
— Interpretation —
Lupicínio Rodrigues (1914 – 1974) is considered one of the original masters of Brazilian popular music, known for his knack for taking trite subjects and sayings and creating some of Brazil’s most heartrending songs. His career was at its height in the 1940s and 1950s, years often considered devoid of innovation in Brazilian music, between the golden era (“época de ouro”) of the 1920s and 1930s and the advent of bossa nova at the end of the 1950s. Lupicínio was plenty innovative, though. He became known as the master of a new genre that he perfected — “dor de cotovelo,” the Portuguese expression for lovesickness or heartache mixed with intense jealousy. It translates literally to “elbow pain” (from too much time in this position).
Through Lupicínio, the expression came to define a musical style that probes into romantic misadventures. As Carlos Rennó notes in his profile of the singer, “It’s been said that in all of Lupicínio Rodrigues’s songs, he either betrays or is betrayed.” And according to Lupicínio, whose commentary was published in Augusto de Campos‘s book “Balanço da Bossa,” everything he sang about was “the truth – my life.”
In the case of “Se acaso você chegasse,” Lupicínio wrote the song for his friend Heitor de Barros shortly after stealing Heitor’s girlfriend. Concerned his indiscretion might compromise Heitor’s affection for him, Lupicínio composed the song in an attempt to convince Heitor that their friendship was worth more than the unfaithful woman. Apparently it worked: he kept Heitor and Heitor’s ex-girlfriend by his side. What’s more, the song became recognized as one of the greatest sambas of all time, bringing fame to Lupicínio, Ciro Monteiro — who released the song in 1938 — and later to Elza Soares, in 1959.
Lupicínio’s songs were brushed aside and forgotten during the 1960s — the height of bossa nova, and then protest music — but were rediscovered in the 1970s and reinterpreted by some of Brazil’s most notable singers, including (links to videos): Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso, Elis Regina, and Paulinho da Viola. More recently, Arrigo Barnabé has become known for his interpretations of Lupicínio’s songs.
Lyrics in Portuguese
Se acaso você chegasse
No meu chateau e encontrasse
Aquela mulher que você gostou
Será que tinha coragem
De trocar nossa amizade
Por ela que já lhe abandonou?
Eu falo porque essa dona
Já mora no meu barraco
À beira de um regato
E de um bosque em flor
De dia me lava a roupa
De noite me beija a boca
E assim nós vamos vivendo de amor
Main sources for this post: Carlos Rennó’s “Os Inventores da Música Pópular Brasileira” and A Canção no Tempo:85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras vol. 1, by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello