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.

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