Foi um rio que passou em minha vida

Lyrics from “Foi um rio que passou em minha vida” by Paulinho da Viola (1969)

If some day my heart is consulted
To find out if it ever went astray
It will be tough to deny
My heart has a compulsion for love; love isn’t easy to find
The mark of my dashed dreams is deep, is deep
Only a love can erase it…
And yet, aiii, and yet, there’s a special story
That in just a short time left an everlasting imprint on my heart
It was one day during Carnival
I was weighed down with a certain sorrow, not thinking of new love
When someone I don’t remember announced: Portela, Portela
And the samba that brought daybreak captured my heart
Ah, my Portela, when I saw you go by
I felt my heart race — my whole body enraptured
My joy return
I can’t define that blue
It wasn’t of the sky
It wasn’t of the sea
It was a river that passed through my life
And my heart let itself be carried away
It was a river that passed through my life
And my heart let itself be carried away

— Interpretation —

Odeon EP, 1969

Odeon EP, 1969

Paulinho da Viola saw the title "Por onde andou meu coração" (Where my heart has gone, roughly) and was inspired to compose this samba, which begins with musings about his heart having gone astray.

Paulinho da Viola saw the title “Por onde andou meu coração” (Where my heart has gone, roughly) and was inspired to compose this samba, which begins with musings about his heart having gone astray.

Walking down Rua México in downtown Rio one day in 1969, Paulinho da Viola looked in the window of a book shop and a title jumped out at him: “Por Onde Andou Meu Coração” (Where My Heart Has Gone, roughly). He liked something about the phrase, and it stuck in with him.

Paulinho had recently composed the lyrics for a tremendous hit for his rival samba school Mangueira, “Sei lá, Mangueira,” and he was feeling a bit guilty about the success of this samba. So as he recounts, when he got home that day, he started playing around with his guitar and composed this samba, using the book’s title as inspiration for this beautiful song dedicated to his beloved samba school Portela.  Portelenses fell in love with the song immediately, and it has become his best known and loved composition of all time. (For more on the story behind the song, see this post on “Sei lá, Mangueira.”)

Paulinho recalls that he initially wrote the samba with a different melody, which he explains and sings for what he says is the first time in this recent video of his show in Circo Voador.  Paulinho da Viola started singing “la-iá, la-iá, la-iá la-iá” at the end of the song after hearing Jair Rodrigues’s recording, and he recalls Jair always joked that this meant he was Paulinho’s partner in the composition.

Lyrics in Portuguese

Se um dia
Meu coração for consultado
Para saber se andou errado
Será difícil negar
Meu coração
Tem mania de amor
Amor não é fácil de achar
A marca dos meus desenganos
Ficou, ficou
Só um amor pode apagar
A marca dos meus desenganos
Ficou, ficou
Só um amor pode apagar…

Porém! Ai porém!
Há um caso diferente
Que marcou num breve tempo
Meu coração para sempre
Era dia de Carnaval
Carregava uma tristeza
Não pensava em novo amor
Quando alguém
Que não me lembro anunciou
Portela, Portela
O samba trazendo alvorada
Meu coração conquistou…
Ah! Minha Portela!
Quando vi você passar
Senti meu coração apressado
Todo o meu corpo tomado
Minha alegria voltar
Não posso definir
Aquele azul
Não era do céu
Nem era do mar
Foi um rio
Que passou em minha vida
E meu coração se deixou levar
Foi um rio
Que passou em minha vida
E meu coração se deixou levar
Foi um rio
Que passou em minha vida
E meu coração se deixou levar!

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About lyricalbrazil

My name is Victoria Broadus and in early 2012 I moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Brazil - first São Paulo, and now Rio de Janeiro. I began studying Portuguese while working toward a Master's degree in Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, and have since become fluent. I love Brazilian music and want to be able to share it with more people, so I'm working on translating songs to English and providing some contextual interpretation and stories about the songs and the musicians.
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One Response to Foi um rio que passou em minha vida

  1. Jim Olmstead says:

    We love this song !!!!

    Still have the LP shown at the top of this post, think we bought in 1971.

    Feliz ano novo, Muito obrigado and aquele abraco,

    Jim and Dixie

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