Outro dia liguei na Rádio Nacional e só ouvi música brasileira. Parecia que eu estava em Nova York.
The other day I turned on Radio Nacional and I only heard Brazilian music. It felt like I was in New York.
Hello and thanks for reading! My name is Victoria Broadus and I’m currently living in Washington D.C., pursuing a PhD in History at Georgetown University. I first traveled to Brazil in 2008, when I was studying Portuguese as a Master’s student at Georgetown (it took me nearly ten years to decide to do a PhD).
I started this site in late 2011 when I was living in New York City, missing Brazil but fortunate to be surrounded by lots of great opportunities to hear Brazilian music. I wanted to share that music with friends and family and any other readers out there who wonder what the songs they’re listening to are saying, and why. From 2012-2017 I lived in Brazil — first São Paulo for a year, then Rio for nearly five — before coming back to the United States for my PhD program. Over the years I’ve tried to keep a balance between popular songs (e.g. bossa nova) and songs that aren’t as well known outside Brazil, and even in Brazil. But what I’ve posted has also reflected what I’ve had going on in my life: When I was living in Rio and going to several rodas de samba a week, I posted more of that. Since I’ve started the PhD, my posts may have gotten more academic. That’s partly accidental, and partly because I use them for classes sometimes. Please let me know if there is a song you would like translated or would like to hear more about. You can leave a comment here or anywhere else on the site, or on the Facebook page.
You can follow the blog by clicking “Follow” at the bottom of the main page, and follow blog posts and other updates on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lyricalbrazil.
101 thoughts on “About this site”
Hello, already seen this clip of CRIOLO?
Lion Man (clip animation); http://bit.ly/zANOhA
Hi Evandro, I hadn’t seen it yet- thanks!!!
Obrigado pela atenção Victoria, eu sou brasileiro e não falo inglês ainda, você fala português?.
O clipe não é oficial, é de minha autoria, mas quem viu aqui no Brasil, gostou muito, espero que goste também, e se possível, divulgue no site 🙂
Thank you for your Victoria, I’m Brazilian and not speak English yet, you speak Portuguese?. The video is not official, is my own, but who saw in Brazil, like much, hope you like it too, and if possible, publish the site 🙂 Thank you!
Thank you for the site. It’s a great idea and very useful! Some of the songs by Baden Powell & Paulo César Pinheiro would be great. (Refém da solidão, Samba do perdão, voltei, Vou deitar e rolar etc ) 🙂 abraco
Thanks so much for reading and for your suggestions, Mark! I’ll include some of these songs in posts in the next few weeks. Abraço
obrigado Victoria! Lapinha is a great song. abs
Great site! I’ve been obsessed with Brazilian music for years, and this is the perfect way to learn Portuguese while discovering more great tunes. Just a suggestion – would it be possible to post the original Portuguese lyrics alongside your translations?
I’m glad you’re enjoying the site, and thanks for your suggestion! I had been thinking about posting the Portuguese lyrics — I’m going to try to find the best way to include them.
I’m admiring your work here. I too have translated some MPB songs and am currently working on Chico Buarque’s lyrics. I wrote a book about him (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Simple-Brazilian-Song-Journeys-Through/dp/0349108498). I’d be interested to discuss your work and perhaps tell you about mine. I’m giving a talk on Chico in Cambridge (UK) in October. You can find me on Facebook. If my e-address shows up where you are, do mail me.
Hi Vitoria, a question regarding the live recordings of Gilberto Gil’s Domingo No Parque as seen on this longer version recording on Youtube http://youtu.be/nrstmBhpZts.
Why is Gil being booed practically all through the song? Is it because it was to innovative?
sorry for misspelling yr name :S
and many thanks for your answer! keep up the good work!
Hi “Perroverde” (I can’t see your name):
Yep, that’s right!
Booing was really common throughout the festivals. In this case, it was particularly bad because Gilberto Gil was playing such an innovative song and using electric guitars — part of what he and Caetano called their “universal sound” — which a lot of people thought had no place in Brazilian popular music.
In this story – Jornal da Tarde from Oct 4, 1967 (http://tinyurl.com/bofbpnc) – he says he’s prepared to be booed:
“I’m not worried. It would be easier if I were competing with songs like ‘Roda’ or ‘Louvação,’ my compositions that have already been accepted by the public. But that would be dishonest with myself and with the people, because [those songs] don’t represent my current way of thinking. I don’t do this as a challenge, I just think that all experiences/experiments are valid in music, seen in a universal manner.”
Hope this helps. Also, no worries about my name — that’s the way most people spell it here, anyway 🙂
Thanks for reading.
Awesome! Thank you very much for the info and your rapid response!
The video’s show a really ‘charged’ and electrifying atmosphere by the way, with the crowd wholeheartedly booing anyone that they didn’t like, and religiously chanting the lyrics with others (Chico Buarque’s Roda Viva). Was that a ‘selected’ audience? (as national television was state-run) or does it reflect the general attitude of the people towards their MBP in those days?
Many thanks again,
Hi Victoria, I really love Brazilian music, but I’m still learning (I started by buying a Toquinho album by accident!)
If you could please answer two questions, I would greatly appreciate it:
I searched for Dorival Caymmi’s song “Marina” here, but I could not find it. Could you please provide a translation of that song?
Secondly, the Sergio Mendes song “Lapinha” has one lyric with a strange word “besouro” — could you please translate this line and tell me what “besouro” means in that line? Surely, it cannot mean a beetle like the insect??? That doesn’t make sense. I’m thinking it must be a colloquial meaning or phrase:
Adeus Bahia, zum-zum-zum
Cordão de Ouro
Eu vou partir
Porque mataram meu besouro…
Thanks so much
Hi! Thanks so much for reading and for your comments. I will plan to translate Marina soon. And Lapinha is on the blog: https://lyricalbrazil.com/2012/06/19/lapinha/. Besouro was legendary capoeirista; he was killed when he was 24. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have more questions.
I really appreciate your help. I never considered the possibility that “besouro” is the name of a person. I’ll look that up, thanks.
Marina is such a great song — I didn’t even know who Caymmi was until this week! I noticed he’s the author of a Santana song on their “Borboletta” album, “Promise of a Fisherman” and I looked him up.
PS: I just read your explanation — thanks for all the details. I always wondered how a Brazilian got the name “Baden Powell”….!
And that one line in the song is very poignant —
Ai é tão desesperador
O amor perder do desamor
— is probably untranslatable, but I like your choice of “indifference” for “desamor”. Perhaps, though, “so disheartens” might work for “tão desesperador” better than “so maddening”…? I hesitate to even suggest anything, since you obviously know a million times more than me about Portuguese and Brazil!
Translation of any song or interview by Criolo would be very much appreciated. I am studying an MSW degree right now and am quite interested in the LIberation Theology movement in Brazil, Paulo Freire in particular, and what some contemporary artists are saying/rapping about social justice. Word is Mr. Criolo has much to say and I would love to hear(read) more!
Thanks for “Marina”, Victoria! What a charmingly odd little song!
Hey, glad you liked the post! I´ll try to do the Toquinho song soon, too.
Hi Victoria, I’d love to know the meaning of another song — “Alô Alô” by Toquinho. If you can find the time, I would be so grateful.
Here are the Portuguese lyrics and a video:
Victoria, I was looking for reference material for an article about Gozanga because he would turn 100 years this week and then I was redirected by google to your website, and wow good job!Well done for you! All the cultural explanations before the lyrics are so well presented, I will take a look into the references that you recommend, keep up the great job!
Hi can you translate “voce e linda” by caetano Veloso? that would be awesome. I love that song!
I don’t know if anyone could help me. Does anyone know of a master’s degree focused on Brazilian music? I’m looking for a study programme along those lines, and I’m not sure where to look and where to start from. I’m more into the music and lyrical content, however I might be interested in delving into the social link between the music and it’s people too. I’m considering other countries too, although I’m based in France.
Thanks in advance. Any help would be appreciated.
Hi Frangale – the best programs I know of along these lines in the United States would be at Tulane University in New Orleans (with Christopher Dunn) and University of Florida (with Charles Perrone), but both would be Portuguese programs. I’m not sure of programs in France.
I am very impressed with your work. I worked in Brazil 1965-7 and 1969-70 and have periodically looked for the wonderful carnival songs I heard in those days, in Salvador and Curitiba.
5 years ago on Youtube one would only find some old guy plucking out the melodies on his verandah–or, more often: nothing. When I last visited, in 1995, you couldn’t buy the old songs in Rio and most young people didn’t seem to value Samba even. Pagode was all the rage. I had to do my own halting translations of the songs I could remember, eg: A banda, Tristezam, Quem nao gosta… A felicidade.
Ate hoje, tenho saudades do Brasil! Parabens para o website.
Thanks so much for your kind comments, Mike! I’m glad you’re enjoying the site,
thank you so much for the literal translation of Insensatez,
It seems that “how insensitive” translates “Assim tão desalmado”?
Hi Gurkski, I’m glad you liked it. Yeah – no part of the song in Portuguese literally translates to “how insensitive”, but “tão desalmado” comes the closest (so soulless). Hope this helps!
“Please let me know if there is a song you would like translated or would like to hear more about!”
Cobra criado (the lyrics Elis Regina sings.. there are 2 different lyrics. I absolute adore elis and to understand her’s.
We love the song Lapinha by Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66. Is there an English translation?
Hi Caren, Here’s the translation to Lapinha: https://lyricalbrazil.com/2012/06/19/lapinha/
Thanks for reading!
Hello Victoria , do you have any medium through which i can contact you directly ?
Hi, you can email me at Torysmail@gmail.com.
Have you heard the version by US-born singer Karrin Allyson of the song “Faltando Um Pedaco” ? It’s amazingly beautiful. How did she learn Brazilian Portuguese so well!?
Could you please translate the lyrics to that song?
Karrin Allyson on YouTube:
Why did you delete my comment?
I don’t delete comments on here, I just realized I hadn’t clicked “approve” yet.
Just found your blog …
What a wonderful thing to do.
I’ve always thought that the reason Brazilian music hasn’t made much of an impact outside Brazil is because of the language barrier. I’m sure if songs were presented in English they would be irresistible to most people in English speaking countries like USA, UK, Canada, Australia, …
Anyway, you may be interested in this English version of Tom Jobim’s “Derradeira primavera,” “The Final Springtime.” I recorded it with some of my musician friends.
Thanks so much for your kind comments, Peter. I’m going to take a look at the video! Take care, Victoria
Very nice recording!
Hello from Austin Texas, Victoria! And on behalf of the Austin Samba School, thank you for this fabulous resource! I stumbled upon your site today while searching for a translation of Aquarela Brasileira, which is going to be our samba-enredo for our next Carnaval show. We are already being asked to learn the song, and when I sent out the link to your version I got a lot of enthusiastic replies about it and about your site in general. A number of us are also studying the music and the language of Brazil in more depth, and your blog will be a great help.
(By the way I love the line in your translation “And the asphalt as a catwalk” …)
Thanks so much, Dell! Let me know any requests you have, as well. I hope to be able to update more soon.
wonderful site! wondering if you could help me translate this song: ONDE ANDA VOCÊ – Vinicius de Moraes
Thanks for your comment! I’ll add that to my list!
Thank you so much for this site! I am in love with brazilian music and have recently started learning bossa nova and samba on guitar and find that a lot of the translations done in the 60’s are pretty hokey and don’t get what i believe to be the full meaning across. I want to play covers in english (as i don’t speak portuguese). Glad i stumbled on this site, I was looking for “Luz Negra”, Nara Leao’s version being one of my favorite songs. Valuable! Thanks!
Great, glad this helped!
Oh, and a few songs i would love to have translations for: “E Preciso Perdoar” by Joao Gilberto, “Pois E” by Nara Leao, and “A Tamba” by Jorge Ben. And also, I live in Brooklyn, NY. Do you know anywhere to go see Brazillian music performed in the city? Thanks again, and hope all is well!
My favorite Brazilian bar is Beco Bar, in Williamsburg, where there’s music sometimes. Otherwise it just depends on the weekend I guess. I’ll add those songs to the list! Abraços,
Hi Victoria. Thanks for a fantastic site, and such a great resource for me. I am a jazz singer and am in love with Brazilian music. I love to know what I am singing about, but its difficult to fid decent translations of songs. Could you add Djavan’s “A Rota Individuo” to your list please? I’ve searched and searched for a translation, but no luck, and Google translate is unintelligible!
Thanks so much! Amanda
Hi Amanda, Thanks so much for your kind comments, I’m glad you’re finding the site useful. I’ve added “A rota do individuo” to my list of songs to translate! Let me know any other requests.
Olá, Victoria, tudo bem? Eu gostaria que, se possível, você traduzisse algumas das músicas de Los Hermanos. Eles são uma banda popular entre os jovens brasileiros e têm letras bonitas. Eu traduziria (na realidade já tentei) Mas sempre que as traduzo sinto que escrevi algo errado. Se possível, gostaria que traduzisse estas quatro em especial: “A flor”, “De onde vem a calma”, “Último Romance” e “Conversa de Botas Batidas”.
Ah, parabéns pelo site 🙂 Sempre procuro traduções das músicas para mandar para meus amigos estrangeiros mas nem sempre as acho. Agora que achei o seu blog, já encontrei várias traduções 😀
Hi Victoria… would it be possible to get your email address.
Sure, it’s email@example.com
Thanks Victoria. Love your website! Would love to see your translations for Noites Cariocas, Berimbau and Canto de Ossanha. Hope you got my email. All the best – Anna.
Gostei muito do teu site.
A seleção musical é de primeira e a tradução com interpretação é ótima.
Tomei a liberdade de fazer um post sobre ele no google+ http://bit.ly/1gpHoAT.
Parabéns e obrigado.
Obrigada, fico muito contente que gostou do site!
This is great!
My favorite songs (without the accents that I don’t know how to make) are E De Oxum and Aguas De Marches. The second is widely sung in English since Tom made his own translation of it. But I would love to see a professional translation of E De Oxum!
Thanks Larry! I will work on É D’Oxum.
Hi I met a very nice man from Brazil on a trip to Mexico and we have become good friends. He has asked me to listen to the song “Roza Azul”.. But I can’t seem to find the English lyrics anywhere.. Please help, thanks!
Hi Sandra, do you have a link to the song on YouTube by any chance?
I do..I think..let me try and find it..thanks!
http://youtu.be/U38mR-2nBxw I hope you can open it..:-)
I’m not sure if these are the same song..?
Hi I sent you two links, can you tell me if their the same song.. I’d really appreciate thank you!!
Hi I sent you the song and link from YouTube..thank you!
This is the song Roza Azul by Novo Somhttp://youtu.be/U38mR-2nBxw
Please translate or let me know where I can find these lyrics in English or Spanish.. Thanks!
[…] for months thinking about all the time I would have to spend translating lyrics until I came across this priceless website with good (not singable; singable and accurate are barely overlapping qualities for song lyric […]
What a beautiful site you have! I found it looking for a translation/more about Mar Grande (Paulinho da Viola). I absolutely love that song, and I find it quite meaningful and poetic. Nevertheless, there are a couple of parts that aren’t quite clear, and I can’t make sense of them with just the dictionary… I’m sure there are some contexts or some uses I’m missing. I would love it if you find the time to zrite about it. Thanks a bunch!
(Don’t know if my comment got lost or it’s awaiting moderation, but here I go again…)
I love your blog! What a beautiful space you have here. I found it looking for Paulinho da Viola’s Mar Grande lyrics. I wonder if you could write about that song here. I understand almost everything, but I would love to read more about it and discuss the meaning….
Thank you !!!
Thank you for this intelligent introduction into a new cosmos.
Hello! This blog is so amazing!!!!! Thank you! It’s so nice be able to share my favorite brazilian songs with my friends. Could you translate some songs by Los Hermanos?
Hi Victoria, just came across your site looking for lyrics to ‘Tristeza’ as I have been learning this beautiful song as part of a selection of Bossas and Sambas that I love to play and sing. I started to learn Brazilian Portuguese because of the music, and translations although they can be really great, are just not the same! I’m sure this site will be a great resource for me so just to say thankyou for that in advance, or I should say, Muito Obrigada 🙂
I of course meant, the English translations!
I need to know the song meaning of Acai by Djavan. …I realy love that song. ..music. .o love jazz…voice… I love Brazilian song also….can u help me to know ….
Hi Victoria, I hope you are doing well.
I have started a project on teaching Brazilian guitar and Brazilian music for English speakers and I’d like to tell you that I put a link to your blog in my website. Translation of lyrics is always something hard to do due the intrinsic subjectivity of poetry and the culture of a people and you are doing a great job.
So, thanks for that.
Thanks so much Renato! Where are you based?
I’m an acoustic guitar teacher from Brazil. I have been teaching acoustic guitar here since 1991 and I’m used to teach Bossa Nova, Samba, Choro and the most traditional styles of Brazilian music. I have started this project because I think that many people around the world would like to learn Brazilian music on guitar and that there is a lack of available online resources that could really help them.
If you want, take a look at my website, although it is a site for members anyone can subscribe and get 7 days of full access without credit card or whatever.
It would be wonderful to see a translation of Gilberto Gil’s “Nos Barracos da Cidade.”
Thanks for creating this terrific site. It’s addictive.
I’d love a translation/backstory for “Roda-Viva” by Chico Buarque.
As a side note, your blog is great — I took a class on Brazilian music and globalization in college, and I’m rediscovering everything (and learning Portuguese) now. Thanks for sharing with us.
I would like to know more about the song. “Tempo de Amar ( Samba do Veloso) by Baden Powell
Thanks for the breakdown of Chico Buarque’s “Tanto Mar.” I’m Portuguese-American and have always loved the song and was looking for a way to adequately explain it and its political/cultural significance to folks. I thin you mostly hit the nail on the head. Great blog, keep up the great work!
Hi! As someone who loves Brazilian music but doesn’t speak a bit of the language, this is a godsend. Having the lyrics translated by someone who knows the language and the history beats trying to gather the meaning behind the lyrics from google translate. Especially your interpretations and explanations of the historical context – I have loved going through this blog and discovering new meanings to songs I thought I knew well. Hope you carry on this blog, I will be reading!
I am currently living in Rio and learning to play the Mandolim. This is my first song I am learning, and I am wondering if you would enjoy helping me translate it to english.
I find it really beautiful.
So lovely to happen upon your website! I look forward to listening to and looking at lyrics of the many songs you are sharing. Thank you!
Which song, Denise?
splendid, is only missing more alternative sounds, o rappa, nação zumbi … congratulations!
I only today found your site! I’m very excited! I’ve been listening to Bassa Nova for years and have been wishing there was somewhere like this. Have no idea how I missed you! I’m nearly 60 now and while I’ve always enjoyed songs like Girl from Ipanima I got heavily into Brazilian music when I heard Rosa Passos sing ‘Voce Vai Ver’ on an album of women singers from around the world. I searched and found more of her music. I fell in love with the language. I picked up Pimsleur’s Brazilian Portuguese and learned enough that when I visited Rio I could just about converse. I have work colleagues in Brazil who have helped me over the years learn some but without being immersed it’s too hard to really learn well. But I continue to find Brazilian music. I’ve even gotten to see Rosa live in New York!! 🙂 Some singers I have in my playlist include Ceu (she sings a great song with Herbie Hancock), Joao Gilberto, Vanessa Da Mata, Tania Maria and others. Even tho I grew up with my parents speaking Spanish and think it’s one of the most elegant languages around, there’s just something about Portuguese that I just love. Previously, when I listen to a song and want to know the translation, I used both google translate and some of my works friends. Needless to say, it’s not a perfect way. So I appreciate your site which helps me both enjoy the music more and at the same time learn the language a bit.
I only today found your site! I’m very excited! I’ve been listening to Bassa Nova for years and have been wishing there was somewhere like this. Have no idea how I missed you! I’m nearly 60 now and while I’ve always enjoyed songs like Girl from Ipanima I got heavily into Brazilian music when I heard Rosa Passos sing ‘Voce Vai Ver’ on an album of women singers from around the world. I searched and found more of her music. I fell in love with the language. I picked up Pimsleur’s Brazilian Portuguese and learned enough that when I visited Rio I could just about converse. I have work colleagues in Brazil who have helped me over the years learn some but without being immersed it’s too hard to really learn well. But I continue to find Brazilian music. I’ve even gotten to see Rosa live in New York!!🙂 Some singers I have in my playlist include Ceu (she sings a great song with Herbie Hancock), Joao Gilberto, Vanessa Da Mata, Tania Maria and others. Even tho I grew up with my parents speaking Spanish and think it’s one of the most elegant languages around, there’s just something about Portuguese that I just love. Previously, when I listen to a song and want to know the translation, I used both google translate and some of my works friends. Needless to say, it’s not a perfect way. So I appreciate your site which helps me both enjoy the music more and at the same time learn the language a bit.
This is a great song. I think you’d love it:
Here’s another song which I really didn’t know what she was singing but loved it. I was told by one of my friends that it’s difficult to translate. But it would be great if you would.
Hi! I can’t remember if I’ve posted here before, but I’ve been following this blog for a while now and felt the need to comment. This page is absolutely amazing for a clueless foreigner! I have a huge love for Brazilian music, how varied and deep it is, with so many incredible song writers and musicians. I love that this site makes it easy to understand the lyrics too! That is definitely something I’ve been missing while listening, so you’re doing something amazing here.
I have always been fascinated by this performance of Partido Alto from the Caetano Veloso and Chico Buarque live CD from 1972. Not only is it a really livewire performance with this amazing creeping tension to it, but I’ve also heard that it’s a protest song and somehow significant to the anti-military movement of the time? Obviously I’m having a lot of trouble trying to discern the meaning behind the words. Is this something you might be able to explain? I would love to just get a good English translation to be honest!
This website pretty much sums up what the internet is all about. Thanks and keep up the good work!
An entry on “Trilha de Sumé/Culto à Terra/Bailado das Muscarias” from the Paebiru record would be greatly appreciated.
Greetings from Israel
What a great site. Thank you for making it. Do you think you can add “Agua No Feijao” to your list of translated songs? Much appreciated.
Some years ago I wrote a blog post about Chico’s ‘A Foto da Capa’ and am embarrassed now with my translation. Would you please comment on my version?
Mug Shot As Museum Fare
Mark Michaelson : “A mug shot captures people at their lowest or most vulnerable. We look hard at their faces, calculating guilt or innocence. And then look harder.”
Ruchira Paul : “I was fascinated by the striking quality of the black and white pictures and the expressions on the faces of the subjects. Needless to say, none of them appeared to be saying “cheese” – the solemn and stony faces surely hid numerous grim tales of passions, failings, treacheries and tragedies. But one can only wonder. Michaelson’s crooks were small time, petty criminals. Not much is known about them, nor why they chose the crooked path to infamy.”
This immediately brings to mind the album “Paratodos” (RCA / BMG Ariola, 1993) by the great Brazilian singer-songwriter-playwright-poet-novelist and soccer fiend Chico Buarque. The booklet accompanying the CD is sprinkled throughout with head shots of people an anthropologist might recognize as Brazilian, black and white and of all ages. Most of these are frontal photos of people who were obviously relaxed at the instant of the shot. And then there is this pair of shots of Chico himself, front and profile, that stands in sharp contrast to the others. The frontal shot has an identifying number below it, and the circumstances are revealed inside by a reproduction of the document that places the portraits in context. “SECÇÃO DE IDENTIFICAÇÃO J.V.P.M.” the card says on top, and if I take the last two letters to signify “Policial Militar”, this is definitely an arrest record. The obverse carries the two photographs stapled to the right half of the card and bears a thumb print on the lower left. The document is dated 29-12-61; the 17 year old Chico had apparently been up to some felonious post-Noël hi-jinks. The eyes stare out and the mood is somber. It is unlike any other face of Chico that I have seen over the years.
The lyrics on the facing page are of the last song of the CD, “A Foto Da Capa” — the photo from the cover. Here is my translation from the Portuguese, made unreliable by my meagre grasp of the literary and the colloquial.
O retrato do artista quando moço // The portrait of the artist as a young man
Não é promissora, cândida pintura // Is not a promising candid painting
É a figura do larápio rastaqüera // It is the figure of a parvenu petty thief
Numa foto que não era para capa // In a photo that was not for cover
Uma pose para câmera tão dura // A pose for camera so harsh
Cujo foco toda lírica solapa // Whose focus disguises all that’s lyrical.
Era rala a luz naquele calabouço // It was grating – the light in that calaboose
Do talento a clarabóia se tampara // With a muscularity of a shuttered skylight
E o poeta que ele sempre se soubera // And the poet that he always knew he was
Claramente não mirava algum futuro // Clearly was not seeing some future
Via o tira da sinistra que rosnara // He was looking at the snarling cop to the left
E o fotógrafo frontal batendo a chapa // And the photographer in front taking the shot.
É uma foto que não era para capa // It was a photo not meant for cover
Era a mera contracara, a face obscura // It was the mere contra-face, the face obscure
O retrato da paúra quando o cara // The portrait of fear while the dude
Se prepara para dar a cara a tapa // Was preparing to give a shot to the face
Chico is an acknowledged master of wordplay and it is impossible to convey the multiple meanings of his lyrics in translation. Is he singing about the cover photo or of the cover-up he presents to the camera? His focus or the camera’s? Is it the future he is not seeing or it’s not his fiancee that he is looking at? Is it the cop who is snarling or is he? Merely the obverse, the face covered? A face to the shot or a shot to the face? Chico has the upper hand on me, and I claim the license of a journeyman translator.
Still, in the space of sixteen lines the erudite Chico manages to personalize the experience and address the ambiguities of the painful situation, echoing the sentiments of Michaelson and Ruchira. To quote from a famous book on contemporary Brazilian song “Buarque’s mature songs are notable for ingenious structurings, for variety of personae, and for ambiguity and plurisignification, especially as strategies for making social commentaries”. I couldn’t have said it worse; I hope I said it better!
You have to hear the original for the unfailing rhymes and the tongue-twister of a final line which brings an abrupt end to the song.
Chico Buarque de Hollanda : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chico_Buarque
There are many songs by Chico on YouTube, unfortunately, this one isn’t among them. You can see a version of the title song, “Paratodos” / “For Everyone”, which is his tribute to all the people he is indebted to — ancestors, musical mentors and contemporaries
Hi, really love the site! So much good information here. We met at the Folklife Center in early January and I was hoping to share some sound files I discovered. Lmk the best way to reach you!
Thanks so much Ramsay, it was great to meet you! my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Victoria, I left already a comment on your page with the lyrics of “Viola Enluarada”, but I just like to tell you how much I appreciate your site! I am Dutch and do n’t speak Portuguese, I understand songtexts of Portuguese and Brazilian artists when I read them or when I listen to records and video’s very carefully. I even tried to translate some lyrics into Dutch, but often I realise that I should take up a study in Portuguese to be able to do this properly (I mean keeping rhyme and rhythm)..
Anyway, I am a real fan of Brazilian music like from Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Adriana Calcinhotto, Milton
Nascimento and Brasil has so many more good artists (and there is so much more of it than just samba or bossa-nova!).
I am so happy having found your site, I hope you will continue this for many years to come, and wish you lots of succes!
What a great site!!
magnifica. muito obrigada!!