Lyrics from “Acontece” by Cartola
Album: Cartola (1974)

Good Audio Version (Cida Moreira)  and Cartola

Forget our love, go on and forget it
Because everything in the world happens,
And it so happens that I don’t know how to love anymore
You’ll cry, you’ll suffer, and you don’t deserve it,
But it happens

It so happens that my heart went cold
And our nest of love is empty
If I were still able to pretend I love you,
Oh if only I were able…
But I don’t want to, I oughtn’t do that
That won’t happen

— Interpretation —

Paulinho da Viola, Aracy de Almeida, Albino Pinheiro, Carlos Cachaça, Cartola, and Clementina de Jesus.

On December 7, 1980, a week after Cartola passed away in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian TV program Fantástico aired footage from 1977 in which Cartola said he would like to be remembered, “years and years later,” by the song “Acontece.” (This YouTube video shows Fantastico’s homage to Cartola, which includes Paulinho da Viola singing “Acontece” with Cartola by his side in 1977, and a group of Rio de Janeiro’s most beloved sambistas singing him “Samba for Cartola” in 1979.) Acontece was also the name Cartola gave to his first round of solo performances, which were at Rio’s Teatro da Galeria in 1978 — just two years before his death.

In a previous post, I briefly mentioned Cartola’s mysterious disappearance from Rio’s samba scene at the end of the 1940s, after the death of his companion Deolinda. Here’s what happened during those years when many believed Cartola had died:

Immediately after Deolinda’s death, Cartola went on composing. He wrote “Rolam meus olhos” and “Sim” in response to her passing, and for Carnaval 1948 composed the samba-enredo  “Vale São Francisco” with his friend and partner Carlos Cachaça. That was the last samba-enredo the two composed together, and the last Carnaval that Cartola marched with Mangueira samba school to a song he’d written.  Mangueira’s new president, Hermes Rodrigues, didn’t like Cartola; Cartola became frustrated, and had a falling out with the school he had founded.  Shortly after, he disappeared from Mangueira.

Reflecting on those years, Cartola remarked, “I had been sick, and then I lost my first wife and ended up mixing myself up in some business that it’s not even worth mentioning. I ended up wasting six or seven years of my life… It was something that happened to me that could happen to anyone. I hid myself from everyone.”   Asked where he had been,  Cartola said “I didn’t disappear! I was with that woman, I gave up everything for that woman; I even gave up music, I stopped playing guitar!”

That woman was Donária, whom Cartola took up with after Deolinda’s death. The two moved in together in another Rio de Janeiro neighborhood, Caju, much to the chagrin of Carlos Cachaça, who remarked, “I would go a lot to the Manilha favela, in Caju, going after Cartola. He was with that big fat woman, Donária. What’s more, Cartola had the hots for fat women. And at the time, he was a bit of a vagrant. That woman wasn’t for him, God save me. But he was in love with her. And she was crazy for Mário de Aurora, from Mangueira. She would leave Cartola alone in Manilha and come here chasing after Mário.”

Cartola and Zica pictured in the window of the home they built together in Mangueira.

Fortunately, Zica — a lifetime acquaintance from Mangueira, and sister of Carlos Cachaça’s wife, Menina — fell in love with Cartola even at this low point in his life. In 1953 she went to live with him in Manilha for a couple of months, and then brought him back to Mangueira. She encouraged Cartola to continue composing and playing guitar. Still, Cartola maintained a low profile, until one fortuitous night in 1956 when he was rediscovered by the journalist Sérgio Porto at a café in Ipanema. Cartola was working nightshifts at an Ipanema carwash, and went to have a quick drink at the café; Porto spotted him and grew ecstatic. Porto and his friends, enamored of the samba master they referred to as “the Divine One” (“o Divino”), quickly reintroduced Cartola to Rio’s samba circuit, where he remained a central figure until his death in 1980.

Lyrics in Portuguese:

Esquece o nosso amor, vê se esquece.
Porque tudo na vida acontece
E acontece que eu já não sei mais amar.
Vai sofrer, vai chorar, e você não merece,
Mas isso acontece.
Acontece que o meu coração ficou frio
E o nosso ninho de amor está vazio.
Se eu ainda pudesse fingir que te amo,
Ah, se eu pudesse
Mas não posso, não devo fazê-lo,
Isso não acontece.

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

3 thoughts on “Acontece”

      1. I just started it but your translation are sometimes very helpfull when I have doubts about the meanings of some words, for the translation in french, as my english is better than my portuguese 🙂

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