Lyrics from “Marina” by Dorival Caymmi (1947)

Good Audio Version (Danilo Caymmi)

Marina, morena
Marina, you’ve made yourself up
Marina, do anything, but do me a favor
Don’t paint that face that I fancy
That I fancy, and is only mine
Marina, you’re already pretty
With what God gave you
I’m annoyed, I’ve grown angry
I can’t speak anymore
And when I’m angry, Marina, I don’t know how to pardon
I’ve forgiven many things – you couldn’t find another like me
I’m sorry, Marina, morena, but I’m cross (Repeat)

I’m cross with you, I’m cross with you…

— Interpretation —

Dorival Caymmi (L) singing with his son Dori in Rio de Janeiro, 1996. Photo via Dorival Caymmi: O Mar e o Tempo.

Dorival Caymmi began this song by writing the final verse: “Eu tô de mal com você” (I’m cross with you, or I’m on bad terms with you). The lines were inspired by Caymmi’s 3-year-old son, Dori, who had just grumpily informed his father, “eu tô de mal com você”; Caymmi found his son’s words poetic and started the song. That’s as far as Dori’s inspiration goes, though: In the song, a jealous husband becomes cross with his wife for wearing makeup, saying he’s already forgiven many things, but this? Unforgivable.

Dori, Stella, and Nana Caymmi in Rio de Janeiro, 1946. Photo via Dorival Caymmi: O Mar e o Tempo.

The subject matter caused Caymmi some trouble. As Stella Caymmi relates in Dorival Caymmi: O Mar e o Tempo, after Caymmi performed the song at a show in Brazil one night, a drunk man approached him claiming to be Marina’s husband, and looking for a fight.

Like most of Caymmi’s songs, “Marina” is exquisitely simple – a testament to Caymmi’s meticulous song-writing process. Because he often spent years on a single song (João Valentão, for example, took him nine years to write), Caymmi’s body of work totaled just over a hundred songs. But as fellow Bahian Caetano Veloso remarked, each of the songs is a “perfect jewel.”

Caymmi’s songs can be split into three categories: Bahian-inspired beach songs and sambas de roda, and urban sambas with a more Carioca tone, of which “Marina” was one of the first.  The song, released together with “Lá vem a Baiana,” is one of Caymmi’s greatest hits, and was recorded by four singers — Dick Farney, Francisco Alves, Nelson Gonçalves, and Caymmi himself — which was quite rare at a time when recording studios tended to allow just one singer to release a given song.

Lyrics in Portuguese

Marina, morena
Marina, você se pintou
Marina, você faça tudo
Mas faça um favor
Não pinte esse rosto que eu gosto
Que eu gosto e que é só meu
Marina, você já é bonita
Com o que deus lhe deu
Me aborreci, me zanguei
Já não posso falar
E quando eu me zango, marina
Não sei perdoar
Eu já desculpei muita coisa
Você não arranjava outra igual
Desculpe, marina, morena
Mas eu tô de mal…

De mal com você
De mal com você.

Main Sources:  A Canção no Tempo: 85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras vol. 1: 1901 – 1957 by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello, and Dorival Caymmi: O Mar e o Tempo, by Stella Caymmi.

Samba de Orly

Lyrics from “Samba de Orly” (1970)
Music by Toquinho; lyrics by Chico Buarque and Vinicius de Moraes

Chico Buarque and Toquinho sing the version banned by censors:

Good Audio Version (censor-approved)

Go on, my brother, catch that plane
You’re right for running away like this
From this cold, but kiss
My Rio de Janeiro
Before some opportunist makes a grab
Beg pardon for the duration of my sojourn
But don’t say anything about seeing me crying
And tell the tough ones that I’m carrying on
Go see how that idle life is going
And if you can, send me back some good news

— Interpretation —

Toquinho (L), Chico Buarque, and Vinicius de Moraes.

On December 13, 1968, Brazil’s military government –  in power since 1964 – issued Institutional Act 5 (AI-5), which shut down the National Congress, cut off all channels for criticism of the government and gave unbounded power to the president to rule by decree.  AI-5 ushered in the darkest years of Brazil’s military dictatorship, known as the Anos de Chumbo (Years of Lead), which lasted until the weakened government restored habeas corpus in 1978. The country’s official transition to democracy was in 1985.

Before AI-5 the military already had a close eye on Chico Buarque. Earlier that year he had released his first play, Roda Vivawhose language and content were an affront to military morals. In July, 1968, the paramilitary group Comando de Caça aos Comunistas (Command for Communist Hunting) stormed the set and beat the actors; soon after, the play was banned when a government censor deemed it “subversive” material by a “retarded” author wherein the actors disrespected “everyone and everything – even their own mothers.”

Chico Buarque (foreground) and Vinicius de Moraes (background) in the Passeata dos Cem Mil, a massive protest against the dictatorship on June 26, 1968. Photo via

A few days after AI-5 was issued, government agents arrested Chico in his home and brought him to the Ministry of the Armed Forces, where he was detained for interrogation about his play and his participation in the Passeata dos Cem Mil (March of the Hundred Thousand),  the largest and most threatening demonstration against the dictatorship to date.

The following month Chico went into exile in Rome, where he was already known for his 1966 hit “A Banda.” By May of that year he had booked a tour in Italy, and he sent for his friend and musical partner Toquinho to play with him. The pair ended up playing 35 shows together over the next six months.

Near the end of his stay in Italy, Toquinho wrote home about what an incredible friend and partner Chico had been: “I know a lot of great people who want the best for us, but people like Chico – I really think they’re hard to find.”  Toquinho was eager to go home, but sad to leave his friend behind in Italy. In November, 1969, one day before departing for Brazil  (from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, not Paris’s Orly, of the title), he left the music for this song with Chico as a parting gift. Chico penned the song’s final verse right away, but did not finish the lyrics until after his return to Brazil in March, 1970.

Chico Buarque and Toquinho in exile in Italy in 1969. Photo via Correio Braziliense.

When Toquinho and Chico were reviewing the final version, they were with Vinicius de Moraes, who said they should make the lyrics harsher to reflect the pain of life in exile. Vinicius changed the line “Pede perdão pela duração dessa temporada” (Beg pardon for the duration of my sojourn) to “Pede perdão pela omissão um tanto forçado” (Beg pardon for this negligence, rather forced). Chico and Toquinho accepted the change, but the censors did not, so the samba was released with the original, “blander” lines, as Vinicius called them.

The line about an opportunist making a grab for Rio de Janeiro is likely a reference to the military officers who were awarded top political positions around the country, including in Rio de Janeiro. And “the tough ones” most likely refers to the militants who stayed in Brazil to fight the dictatorship. (Alternatively, this could be interpreted as a message to the military itself. But the phrase in Portuguese – “pros da pesada” – generally reflects a certain respect or reverence, which would not be directed toward the dictatorship.)  Paris’s Orly Airport was chosen for the song because it was much better known to Brazilians in Brazil and in exile than Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

Lyrics in Portuguese

Vai, meu irmão
Pega esse avião
Você tem razão de correr assim
Desse frio, mas beija
O meu Rio de Janeiro
Antes que um aventureiro
Lance mão

Pede perdão
Pela duração dessa temporada
Mas não diga nada
Que me viu chorando
E pros da pesada
Diz que vou levando
Vê como é que anda
Aquela vida à toa
E se puder me manda
Uma notícia boa

Pede perdão
Pela omissão um tanto forçada
Mas não diga nada
Que me viu chorando
E pros da pesada
Diz que vou levando
Vê como é que anda
Aquela vida à toa
Se puder me manda
Uma notícia boa

Main sources for this post: Chico Buarque: Histórias de Canções by Wagner Homem (2009); Toquinho: 30 Anos de Músicas  by João Carlos Pecci (1996); and commentary from Wagner Homem and Roberto Biela.


Lyrics from “Alvorada” by Cartola, Carlos Cachaça and Hermínio Bello de Carvalho (1968)

Good Audio Version

Dawn up on the hillside, what beauty
No one cries, there’s no sorrow, no one feels displeasure…
The sun, coloring, is so lovely, is so lovely
And nature smiling, painting, painting, … dawn

You too remind me of the dawn when it arrives
Illuminating my lifeless paths
And the rest for me is so little, or almost nothing
Just rambling on like this, on this lost highway

— Interpretation —

Daybreak in Rio de Janeiro, via National Geographic.

The inspiration for this song – another classic samba from Mangueira mainstays Cartola and Carlos Cachaça – came one early morning as the two were walking down Rio’s Pendura a Saia hill, which is part of the larger Morro de Mangueira. Moved by the beauty of the first light of day, and its contrast with the destitution on the hillside, they composed the first lines of the samba together.  They then brought the piece to their friend Hermínio Bello de Carvalho for completion; Carvalho wrote the final lines while Cartola composed the melody. (For more on the friendship and partnership between Cartola and Carlos Cachaça, see these posts.)

Carlos Cachaça and his wife, Menina, the sister of Cartola’s wife, Zica. Cartola and Carlos Cachaça met in 1922; they became fast friends and went on to found Rio’s most celebrated carnival samba school, Estação Primeira da Mangueira. Photo via Raiz do Samba.

The song recalls the final scene in Black Orpheus, the 1959 film adaptation of Vinicius de Moraes’s play, Orfeu da Conceição (1954). The play brought the Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice to the hillside slums of Rio de Janeiro; it was also the first time Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobim composed together.

Lyrics in Portuguese

Cartola, Ismael Silva, and Mano Décio da Viola on the cover of the popular magazine Veja in 1975. At the time, Cartola had stopped performing, hurt and indignant over the poor treatment and low pay that he and his fellow sambistas received in Rio’s recording studios and music venues. Photo via Raiz do Samba.

Alvorada lá no morro, que beleza
Ninguém chora, não há tristeza
Ninguém sente dissabor

O sol colorindo é tão lindo, é tão lindo
E a natureza sorrindo, tingindo, tingindo
( a alvorada )
Você também me lembra a alvorada
Quando chega iluminando
Meus caminhos tão sem vida
E o que me resta é bem pouco
Ou quase nada, do que ir assim, vagando
Nesta estrada perdida.M

Main source for this post: A Canção no Tempo: 85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras, vol. 2 : 1958 – 1985 by Jairo Severiano and Zuzu Homem de Mello