Diz que fui por aí

Lyrics from “Diz que fui por aí” by Zé Kéti and Hortêncio Rocha (1964)

If anyone asks after me, tell them I went out
Carrying my guitar under my arm
On any corner, I’ll stop
At any little bar, I’ll go in
And if there’s reason – that’s another samba I’ll compose
If they want to know if I’ll come back, tell them yes
But only after this saudade leaves me

I’ve got a guitar to keep me company,
I’ve got lots of friends, I’m popular
I’ve got the madrugada as my companion
This saudade hurts, and eats away at my heart
I’m in the city, I’m in the favela,
I’m around, always thinking of her.

— Interpretation —

Zé Kéti in front of the Lapa Arches in Rio.
Zé Kéti in front of the Lapa Arches in Rio.

ze_kéti_tocando fosforoIf he were alive, today would be Zé Kéti’s 93rd birthday. Kéti’s 1964 samba “Diz que fui por aí” proved such a classic that it’s still one of the most common songs to hear at rodas de samba in Rio de Janeiro these days; however — maybe in part as a legacy of Kéti’s unassuming personality — it’s not widely known the song is his. Nara Leão recorded “Diz que fui por aí” on her 1964 album NaraIt was the first of a number of Kéti’s songs that Nara — known as the “muse of bossa nova” (a role she ended up vehemently rejecting) — would record, thus symbolically uniting Rio’s bossa nova and MPB circles with sambistas and sambas from the morro. On the same album, Nara also recorded Cartola‘s “A Sorrir” and Nelson Cavaquinho‘s “Luz negra.”

I’ve left saudade in Portuguese, along with madrugada, which essentially translates as something between the late late night and the “wee hours” of the morning. For more on Zé Kéti, see this post: “A Voz do Morro” and “Acender as Velas.”

Lyrics in Portuguese

Se alguém perguntar por mim
Diz que fui por aí
Levando o violão debaixo do braço

Em qualquer esquina eu paro
Em qualquer botequim eu entro
Se houver motivo
É mais um samba que eu faço

Se quiserem saber se eu volto
Diga que sim
Mas só depois que a saudade se afastar de mim

Tenho um violão para me acompanhar
Tenho muitos amigos, eu sou popular
Tenho a madrugada como companheira

A saudade me doi, o meu peito me roi
Eu estou na cidade, eu estou na favela
Eu estou por aí
Sempre pensando nela

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