Inimigo do Batente

Lyrics from “Inimigo do Batente” by Wilson Batista and Germano Augusto, released by Dircinha Batista (1939)

Eu já não posso mais!/ I can’t take it anymore!
A minha vida não é brincadeira/ My life isn’t a joke
Estou me desmilinguindo igual a sabão na mão da lavadeira/ I’m wasting away just like soap in a washerwoman’s hand
Se ele ficasse em casa ouvia a vizinhança toda falando / If he stayed home he’d hear the whole neighborhood talking
Só por me ver lá no tanque/ Just seeing me there at the washtub
Lesco-lesco, lesco-lesco/ Scrubbing away, scrubbing away
Me acabando/ Giving out
Só por me ver lá no tanque/ Just seeing me there at the washtub
Lesco-lesco, lesco-lesco/ Scrubbing away, Scrubbing away
Me acabando/ Giving out

Se lhe arranjo um trabalho/ If I get him a job
Ele vai de manhã, de tarde pede as contas/ He leaves in the morning and gives notice in the afternoon
E eu já estou cansada de dar murro em faca de ponta/ I’m fed up with trying to get blood from a stone
Ele diz pra mim que está esperando ser presidente/ He told me he’s waiting to be president
Tirar patente no sindicato dos inimigos do batente/ To get his card in the union of the enemies of labor

[Repeat Verse 1]

Ele dá muita sorte/ He brings a lot of luck
É um moreno forte, é mesmo um atleta/ He’s a strong moreno, a real athlete
Mas tem um grande defeito/ But he has a major fault
Ele diz que é poeta/ He says he’s a poet
Ele tem muita bossa e compôs um samba e quer abafar/ He has a lot of bossa and made a samba and wants to reign supreme
É de amargar/ It’s just too much
Eu não posso mais/ I can’t do it anymore
Em nome da forra, vou desguiar/ In the name of vengeance I’m gonna walk out

Wilson Batista in 1940 holding a new 78rpm, perhaps of this samba. The print has a dedication from Batista to his partner Germano Augusto.

Wilson Batista wrote a series of sambas in the feminine voice, perhaps in part to benefit from the spectacular popularity of the female recording artists of the late 1930s and ’40s — singers like Carmen Miranda, Aracy de Almeida, and Linda and Dircinha Batista. The Batista sisters grew up in the industry; their father, Baptista Jr., was a comedian, showman, and popular-music composer. Dircinha (1922-1999) launched an acting career at the age of 13, starring in the popular chanchadas Alô, Alô, Brasil, and Alô, Alô, Carnaval. And her singing career took off in the late 1930s after Francisco Alves called her the girl with “the throat of a bird” on his popular show on Rádio Cajuti.

Wilson Batista was the consummate malandro composer, and as a variation on that theme, he composed several sambas from the perspective of the long-suffering women in the malandro’s life. In some, the woman schemes to leave the malandro (as here, or in “Tenho que fugir,” another composed with Germano Augusto, recorded by Odete Amaral); in others, she pines for him after she’s lost him (as in “Oh! Dona Inês,” recorded by Aracy de Almeida, or “Não durmo em paz,” recorded by Carmen Miranda).

Dircinha Batista and her sister, Linda, were darlings of the Vargas regime and Carioca high society. They were a frequent presence at the presidential Palácio do Catete. This is a photo Dircinha signed for Pixinguinha, from the Tinhorão collection at IMS.

Writing for female voices was also a way to depict and even glorify malandragem in a more elliptical fashion. This song was released at the height of Getúlio Vargas’s Estado Novo dictatorship (1937-45), and more specifically at the height of censorship of samba de malandro. The message of the sub-genre went in the face of Vargas’s social project, which promoted the virtues of steady factory work and stable family life. Over the course of 1939, regime censors cracked down on sambas celebrating malandragem, and composers were encouraged to promote the straight life in their lyrics. A whole little sub-genre of sambas about the malandro regenerado, or regenerate malandro, emerged, most famously symbolized by Batista’s “O Bonde de São Januário” (1940), a samba about an ex-malandro who, after having an epiphany that he wanted to “guarantee [his] future,” went to work at a factory and never looked back. While the samba ostensibly celebrates this decision, it lends itself to ironic interpretations about the dubious bliss of this reformed malandro. Meanwhile, the un-reformed malandro continued to make his presence felt through sambas like this one, in which Vargas-regime darling Dircinha Batista sings about an outlaw poet she’s thoroughly fed up with — but whom she somehow hasn’t managed to leave yet.

Germano Augusto, Wilson Batista’s partner in this composition, shows up as a partner to the greatest composers of the 1930s and 40s, but little is known about him. He was likely a music-industry insider who would help composers perfect certain melodies or lyrics, and would then get credit as a composer and help to promote the song.

For more on the malandro in samba during the Estado Novo, see Bryan McCann’s book Hello, Hello, Brazil, especially pp. 65-67.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s