A Briga do Edifício Itália e do Hilton Hotel

Lyrics from “A Briga do Edifício Itália e do Hilton Hotel” by Tom Zé (1972)



Good Audio Version (Tom Zé)

The Itália building was the king of Ipiranga Avenue
Tall, majestic and handsome, no one came close to its greatness
But now the Hilton Hotel building showed up
Elegant, modern and charming, stealing attention with its beauty

The Itália building got jealous
And spread the word among friends
That to get so white, the Hilton drinks rice-flour tea
Only wears the latest fashion, dresses up right,
And if he goes up Consolação wearing white
Will cause terror even in the cemetery

The Hilton immediately responded in turn:
This obsession with greatness gets you nowhere
Just look: Sure, I may be affected, but I don’t give people any reason to talk
With you it’s different
Cause in the neighborhood, in spite of your peacockish aplomb,
They’re already calling you Dumb Joe from the corner.

(The Itália building was the king of Ipiranga Avenue
Tall, majestic and handsome, no one came close to its greatness
But now the Hilton Hotel building showed up
Elegant, modern and charming, stealing attention with its beauty)

And the Hilton, grinning, said that the Itália building
Acts like an overblown Samson
And what’s more, he only thinks about money
He doesn’t know what love is, he has a body of steel, a robot’s soul
Because he doesn’t have a heart to speak of
Since what beats in his chest is an adding machine

The Itália building stomped with rage, willed a plague upon Hilton
And even insinuated that the Hilton had been born round to call attention
Flaunted those curves to cause a sensation
And even seemed like a crazy girl, or the Tower of Pisa dressed up as a bride

The Itália building was the king of Ipiranga Avenue
Was the king of Ipiranga Avenue, was the king…

–Interpretation–

Edificio Itália in São Paulo. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Edificio Itália in São Paulo. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The Edifício Itália, on the corner of Avenida Ipiranga and Rua São Luiz in São Paulo, was the center of attention in São Paulo’s center in the late 1960s. It was the tallest building in Latin America when it was inaugurated with plenty of pomp in September, 1965. The Italian immigrant association Círcolo Itáliano had constructed the building to house its new headquarters. Swank and luxurious, Edifício Itália symbolized the progress the Italian community had made since the founding of Círcolo Itáliano in São Paulo in 1911.

But in October, 1971, just down the way, the white, sleek, cylindrical Hilton Hotel was inaugurated — the first international chain hotel to open in Brazil. The pop-rock icon Roberto Carlos sang at its inauguration.

And in Tom Zé’s eyes, the Edifício Itália felt threatened by this fair and modernistic newcomer. Continue reading “A Briga do Edifício Itália e do Hilton Hotel”

Lígia

Lyrics from “Lígia” by Tom Jobim (1972)



Good Audio Version (João Gilberto)

I’ve never dreamed of you, I’ve never gone to the movies
I don’t like samba, I don’t go to Ipanema
I don’t like rain, I don’t like sun
I never called you up, why, if I knew?
I never attempted – and would never dare – the sweet nothings
That I learned with you
No, Lígia, Lígia

To go out with you holding hands on a serene afternoon
A cold beer in a bar in Ipanema
Walk along the beach down to Leblon
I’ve never fallen in love, I’d never be able to marry you
I would suffer such pain inevitably just to lose you in the end

You come close to me with your peculiar ways, and I say yes
But your brown eyes fill me with more fear than a ray of sun
Lígia, Lígia

— Interpretation–

Tom Jobim at Ipanema Beach, c. 1968
Tom Jobim at Ipanema Beach, c. 1968

Tom Jobim used to say that any song with a woman’s name just stirred up trouble. He cited the case of Dorival Caymmi’s “Marina,” which provoked threats to Caymmi from an angry husband who thought the song had been written for his wife.

And indeed “Lígia” caused some problems for Tom, since the name happened to be the name of his close friend Fernando Sabino’s wife.

In interviews over the years following the release of “Ligia,” Tom avoided the subject or denied that the song was written for Sabino’s wife, Lygia Marina de Moraes. But in a 1988 interview with Ruy Castro for Playboy, Tom hinted that his denials could be interpreted in the same way as the denials in the song: “Fernando Sabino is a good friend, I get along really well with him and his wife, Lygia. They come to my house, I want all the best for them and, naturally, Lygia is a very beautiful woman and all that. What exists in  “Lígia” is the following: something that you deny so much that ultimately it turns into an affirmation – a supreme affirmation of love. ‘I’ve never dreamed of you, I’ve never gone to the cinema… when I called you… it was just an illusion, I ripped up your name.’ That is to say, I’m not even close to Lygia.”
Continue reading “Lígia”