Cotidiano no. 2

Lyrics from “Cotidiano no. 2” by Vinícius de Moraes and Toquinho (1972)

Good Audio Version (Vinícius de Moraes & Toquinho)

Hay dias que no sé lo que me pasa
I open my Neruda and shut out the sun
I mix poetry with cachaça
And I end up arguing over football
But it doesn’t matter, I’ve got my guitar (x2)
I wake up in the morning, bread and butter
And so much, so much blood in the paper
But then the whole troop of children comes by
And I even start to think Herod was normal
But it doesn’t matter, I’ve got my guitar
Later on, I play the lottery with the wife
Who knows, our day might come
And I laugh, because a rich man laughs for nothing
And after all it doesn’t hurt to dream
But it doesn’t matter, I’ve got my guitar
Saturdays at home, I get all boozed up
And dream up phenomenal solutions
But when sleep comes, and the night dies away
The day always tells the same stories
Sometimes I want to believe, but I’m unable,
It is all an utter folly
So I ask God: Listen my friend,
If it was meant to be undone, why did you make it at all?
But it doesn’t matter, I’ve got my guitar.

— Interpretation —

Toquinho and Vinícius de Moraes
Toquinho and Vinícius de Moraes

Toquinho and Vinicius de Moraes composed this song together on a languid day in Itapuã, Salvador, Bahia. Toquinho was playing around on his guitar as Nilzete, his maid, served up juices and whiskey “with rhythmic gestures.” Nilzete swayed around in a t-shirt with “My love” printed in giant letters. Toquinho relates that he played the first melodic line of the song, singing “My Love na camisa de Nilzeeete” (My love on Nilzete’s t-shirt). He summoned Vinícius to complete the composition with him. Vinícius, suggesting a tribute to his fellow poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda, replaced Toquinho’s “My love na camisa de Nilzeeete” with “Hay dias que no sé lo que me pasa,” believing it was a line from a Neruda poem. That’s how the song, whose title means “Quotidian no. 2,” began; Vinícius went on to “develop other ideas — beautiful, fantastic and terrible — about the quotidian,” recounts Toquinho.

toquinho e vinicius 2One day in Paris, Toquinho and Vinicius sang “Cotidiano no. 2” for Pablo Neruda, and Vinícius proudly explained the homage. Neruda politely pointed out that the line was actually from a tango, not a poem of his, provoking a rare moment of embarrassment for Vinícius. Toquinho held back his laughter.

The partnership and friendship between Toquinho and Vinícius began in 1970. The year before, when he was in Italy with Chico Buarque, Toquinho played guitar for a few songs on a tribute album for Vinícius, and Vinícius liked what he heard. In early 1970, back in Brazil, Toquinho – just 23 at the time – woke up one early afternoon and his mother told him Vinícius de Moraes had called, and wanted him to call back. Vinícius asked Toquinho to tour with him. A few months later, the two were together on a boat to Argentina (Vinícius, like Tom Jobim, avoided flying). They became close friends and collaborators up until Vinicius’s death ten years later.

Vinicius de Moraes would be turning 100 today, October 19, 2013. He died in 1980 from health problems related to drinking.

King Herod, referred to in the song, is known for having mistreated and killed children. The lyrics in the video above are slightly different (by just a few words) from those in the original recording.

Lyrics in Portuguese

Hay días que no sé lo que me pasa
Eu abro o meu Neruda e apago o sol
Misturo poesia com cachaça
E acabo discutindo futebol

Mas não tem nada, não
Tenho o meu violão

Acordo de manhã, pão sem manteiga
E muito, muito sangue no jornal
Aí a criançada toda chega
E eu chego a achar Herodes natural

Mas não tem nada, não
Tenho o meu violão

Depois faço a loteca com a patroa
Quem sabe nosso dia vai chegar
E rio porque rico ri à toa
Também não custa nada imaginar

Mas não tem nada, não
Tenho o meu violão

Aos sábados em casa tomo um porre
E sonho soluções fenomenais
Mas quando o sono vem e a noite morre
O dia conta histórias sempre iguais

Mas não tem nada, não
Tenho o meu violão

Às vezes quero crer mas não consigo
É tudo uma total insensatez
Aí pergunto a Deus: escute, amigo
Se foi pra desfazer, por que é que fez?

Mas não tem nada, não
Tenho o meu violão

Main source for this post: História de Canções: Toquinho, by João Carlos Pecci and Wagner Homem

Sangue Latino

Lyrics to “Sangue Latino” by Secos & Molhados, 1973 (lyrics by João Ricardo and Paulinho Mendonça)

I swore by lies and I go on alone
I acknowledge my sins
The northern winds don’t move mills
And all I have left is just a whimper
My life, my dead, my twisted paths
My latin blood, my captive soul
I breached treaties, I betrayed rites
I broke the lance, I lanced into the nothingness a cry – a release
And what matters to me is that I’m not defeated
My life, my dead, my twisted paths
My latin blood, my captive soul

— Interpretation —

Folha de São Paulo called the cover of Secos e Molhados' 1973 debut album the "best Brazilian long play album cover of all time"
Folha de São Paulo called the cover of Secos & Molhados’ 1973 debut album the “best Brazilian long play album cover of all time.”

Secos & Molhados appeared on Brazil’s music scene at the height of the country’s military dictatorship, four years into the so-called “years of lead” (anos de chumbo) following the decree of Institutional Act V in December 1968. Censorship and repression were at their height. The unruly trio — João Ricardo, Gerson Conrad, and lead singer Ney de Souza Pereira (known as Ney Matogrosso because of his home state, Mato Grosso do Sul) — fused Brazilian regional sounds with international pop-rock influences, especially from the glam rock genre that was reaching its apex in the United Kingdom at the time. Similar to glam rockers David Bowie and Marc Bolan in the U.K., band members – especially Matogrosso, with his high-pitched womanly voice – played up androgyny. They wore theatrical, often campy, outfits with heavy make-up, and danced provocatively on stage, defying accepted standards of performance, gender and sexuality. (Rumors abound in Brazil that the American band Kiss, formed in January 1973, began using make-up after seeing Secos & Molhados; Kiss band members have always denied this, however, and appear to be telling the truth.)

Secos e Molhados, with Ney Mattogrosso in the middle.
Secos e Molhados, with Ney Matogrosso in the middle.

Secos & Molhados emerged in São Paulo about five years after the tropicalia movement had shocked and delighted the country in 1967 and 1968. In a way, tropicalia – with its controversial “universal sound” and Caetano Veloso‘s defiant flamboyance – set the stage for the band.

In the late 1960s, international cultural elements like rock and roll were still regarded as symbols of northern imperialism in many circles in Brazil.  The renowned music critic José Ramos Tinhorão notoriously likened tropicalia’s cultural project to the military dictatorship’s economic and technical projects.  (In 1967, after being booed and berated for using back-up electric guitars in “Domingo no Parque,” Gilberto Gil said he felt as if he was on trial for betraying Brazilian popular music, and that according to this logic, Brazilians should only be using indigenous instruments.)

But tropicalist musicians, led by Veloso and Gil, rejected this polarized view. They challenged prejudices against international cultural influences, and incited Brazilians to defy authority in new ways, cultivating a counter-culture that went beyond political opposition to the military dictatorship and rebelled against broader understandings of music, society and nationalism, psychology, the body and sexuality. What were once “outcast” qualities became cool, and were considered forms of rejecting authoritarian attempts to mold and manipulate the mass media and society.

Ney Matogrosso at age 70. The singer asks photographers not to retouch any photos of him, claiming his "right to age."
Ney Matogrosso at age 70. The singer asks photographers not to retouch any photos of him, claiming his “right to age.”

By the early 1970s Brazil was ripe for a band like Secos & Molhados to give new voice and form to this feeling. Composer João Ricardo brought the band together in São Paulo in 1971. In 1972 they gave a tremendously successful show at Teatro Ruth Escobar and were invited to record an LP with Continental Records. The self-titled LP was released in August 1973 and was the top selling album that year. It’s listed as no. 5 on Rolling Stone’s list of top 100 Brazilian albums of all time. Seven of the thirteen tracks are poems set to music, including Vinicius de Moraes‘s “Rosa de Hiroshima” and Manuel Bandeira‘s “Rondo do Capitão.

Another poem set to music, “Primavera nos dentes,” by  João Apolinário – João Ricardo’s father – and “Mulher barriguda” are the most overtly anti-dictatorship songs on the album.

“Sangue Latino” is about the Latin American condition of struggles, missteps, oppression, and resilience. The song is representative of the group’s fusion of political messages and pop rock clichés. Another big hit from the album was the rock track “O Vira,” which alludes to the Portuguese folk dance by the same name:

Lyrics in Portuguese

Jurei mentiras
E sigo sozinho
Assumo os pecados
Uh! Uh! Uh! Uh!

Os ventos do norte
Não movem moinhos
E o que me resta
É só um gemido

Minha vida, meus mortos
Meus caminhos tortos
Meu Sangue Latino
Uh! Uh! Uh! Uh!
Minh’alma cativa

Rompi tratados
Traí os ritos
Quebrei a lança
Lancei no espaço
Um grito, um desabafo

E o que me importa
É não estar vencido
Minha vida, meus mortos
Meus caminhos tortos
Meu Sangue Latino
Minh’alma cativa

Main source for this post: Secos & Molhados: o novo sentido da encenação da canção by José Roberto Zan