Refém da Solidão

Lyrics from “Refém da Solidão” by Baden Powell & Paulo César Pinheiro (1970)

Quem da solidão fez seu bem // Anyone who’s chosen solitude for their darling
Vai terminar seu refém // Will end up its hostage
E a vida pára também // And life stops too
Não vai nem vem // Neither comes nor goes
Vira uma certa paz // Just becomes some kind of peace
Que não faz nem desfaz // That neither does nor undoes
Tornando as coisas banais // Making things so mundane
E o ser humano incapaz de prosseguir //And the human being unable to carry on
Sem ter pra onde ir // With nowhere to go
Infelizmente eu nada fiz // Unfortunately I did nothing
Não fui feliz nem infeliz // I was neither happy nor unhappy
Eu fui somente um aprendiz // I was merely an apprentice
Daquilo que eu não quis // Of that which I never wished for
Aprendiz de morrer // Apprentice of dying
Mas pra aprender a morrer // But to learn to die
Foi necessário viver // It was necessary to live
E eu vivi // And I lived
Mas nunca descobri // But I never discovered
Se essa vida existe // If this life really exists
Ou essa gente é que insiste // Or if it’s just those people who insist
Em dizer que é triste ou que é feliz // On saying they’s sad or they’re happy
Vendo a vida passar // Watching life pass by
E essa vida é uma atriz // And this life is an actress
Que corta o bem na raiz // That nips any good at the bud
E faz do mal cicatriz // And of evil makes a scar
Vai ver até que essa vida é morte // For all we know maybe even this life is death
E a morte é // And death is
A vida que se quer //The life that’s wished for.

— Commentary —

Baden_PauloCesar

In 1969, when Baden Powell was separating from his second wife, Tereza Drummond, his friend and partner Paulo César Pinheiro went to stay with him. In the throes of Baden’s separation they composed this song, which Pinheiro says was perhaps “the craziest of all the sambas we made together, but, without false modesty, it’s one of the most beautiful, without a doubt, of all time, in the anthology of Brazilian popular songs.”

Elizeth Cardoso released the song on her 1970 LP Falou e Disse, and later that year Baden Powell and Paulo César Pinheiro released it on their album As Músicas de Baden Powell e Paulo César Pinheiro, “Os Cantores da Lapinha”. 

Here is Elizeth Cardoso singing with Baden Powell on the guitar:

Source: Histórias das Minhas Canções by Paulo César Pinheiro (2010).

Samba em prelúdio

“Samba em prelúdio” by Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell (1962)

Without you, I have no purpose
Because without you, I don’t even know how to cry
I’m a flame without glow, a garden without moonlight
Moonlight without love, love without being given

Without you, I’m just lovelessness
A ship without sea, a field without flowers
Sadness that goes, sadness that comes
Without you my love, I’m no one

(woman’s part):
Ah, what saudade, what desire to see our life reborn
Come back, my dear
My arms need yours, your embraces need mine
I’m so alone, my eyes weary of staring into the distance
Come, behold life
Without you, my love, I’m no one

— Interpretation —

Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell, whose friendship and musical partnership Powell's widow Silvia likened to a "sexless marriage."
Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell (with guitar), whose friendship and musical partnership Powell’s widow Silvia likened to a “sexless marriage.”

One evening in 1962, Baden Powell went to Vinicius de Moraes‘s house with this song — which he described as “full of love” —  for Vinicius to write the lyrics. In this video, Baden recalls that he got to Vinicius’s at around 9 p.m., excited to show him the song, which he imagined being sung by a man and woman together. (The woman’s part is noted in the lyrics above.)  He played the song for Vinicius and then they began to throw back their usual whiskey. By the time they were on their third bottle at around 3 or 4 a.m., Baden grew worried that they still had no lyrics and were “nearly drunk.”

Vinicius and Baden met around 1958 at a boate in Copacabana, where Tom Jobim and Ary Barroso had a show together.
Vinicius, left, and Baden met around 1958 at a boate in Copacabana, where Tom Jobim and Ary Barroso had a show together.

Baden asked Vinicius what was wrong. Vinicius was evasive at first, telling Baden the issue was “disagreeable,” but that they should leave the song aside for the time being. Baden pushed him, and he exclaimed, “I think this is plagiary! It will be all over the newspapers, ‘Baden and Vinicius plagiarize.'”

Baden told Vinicius the song wasn’t plagiarized, but said “Ok, plagiary of whom, of what?” Vinicius responded, “This is clearly Chopin!”

Baden assured Vinicius the song wasn’t Chopin’s, but Vinicius told him he never made mistakes – and that perhaps Baden had had too much to drink. Vinicius said he’d get confirmation from Lucinha, his wife of the moment, who played piano and loved Chopin. In spite of Baden’s protests about waking Lucinha at that hour, with day nearly breaking, Vinicius summoned her to listen to Baden play the song. Lucinha confirmed to the tipsy duo that the song was beautiful, romantic, and by no means Chopin’s. Vinicius responded to Lucinha, “Even you are against me!” He turned to Baden and said, “In that case, Chopin forgot to compose this song.” He then turned to the typewriter and wrote the lyrics, all at once.

youngbadenWhile Vinicius was a poet and diplomat born into Rio’s high society zona sul, Baden Powell (August 6, 1937 – September 26, 2000) was born in rural Varre-Sai, Rio de Janeiro. When he was just three months old his family moved to the humble São Cristóvão neighborhood, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro; he said he therefore always considered himself carioca. Powell’s father – on top of being a scouting enthusiast, hence Baden’s name – was a leather craftsman and violin player, and often organized musical get-togethers at the family home, which Baden said influenced him profoundly from a very young age.

Baden quickly excelled as a virtuoso guitarist, demonstrating singular talent for playing a vast range of styles. At fifteen he began performing in little bars around Rio, and at eighteen began playing regular gigs with a jazz trio at Boate Copacabana. Around that time, he composed his first major hit, “Samba triste,” with Billy Blanco, whom Baden referred to as his first true musical partner. Shortly thereafter – “some time around 1958” – he met Vinicius at Boate Arpège, where Tom Jobim had a show with Ary Barroso.

In this documentary, Baden recalls he was thrilled when Vinicius, whom he admired from afar, called him over to the table where he was drinking whiskey.  Vinicius said, “I know you’re a composer, you have a few songs and all – what about if we tried a little partnership?” Telling the story, Baden remarks, “I was really timid — like I am to this day, even though it might not seem that way — so I mostly just let him do the talking, but I said it would be the greatest pleasure to work with him.”  The two met a few days later at Hotel Miramar, and composed their first two songs together, “Canção de Ninar,” and “Sonho de amor e paz.”

In 1966, Baden and Vinicius released the tremendously popular, mystical album "Os Afro-Sambas," which Baden said was inspired by "afro-brasileiros" and stories he would tell Vinicius about Afro-Brazilian gods like Xango and Ossanha.
In 1966, Baden and Vinicius released the tremendously popular, mystical album “Os Afro-Sambas,” which Baden said was inspired by “afro-brasileiros” and stories he would tell Vinicius about Afro-Brazilian gods like Xango and Ossanha.

Soon after, Baden went to Vinicius’s house to work on a song with him, and ended up staying for four months. They would often pull down all the shades to compose, so that they wouldn’t notice the passage of time, night and day.

The pair’s 1966 album Os Afro-Sambas remains one of the best-loved MPB albums of all time.

After Vinicius’s death in 1980, Baden began performing “Samba em prelúdio” with the lyrics “without you, my poet, I’m no one; without you, my Vinicius, I’m no one.”

Main source for this post not linked in text: Livro de Letras: Vinicius de Moraes (Companhia das Letras)

 

 

Lapinha

Lyrics from “Lapinha” by Baden Powell and Paulo César Pinheiro (1968)

Good Audio Version (Elis Regina)

When I die, bury me in Lapinha
When I die, bury me in Lapinha
Britches, suit jacket, shoulder pads
Britches, suit jacket, shoulder pads
Go, my wail, go tell of all the sorrow of living
Ah, the truth always betrays
And sometimes brings more evil
Ay, it just tore me up
Seeing so many people give in
But I didn’t give up
Going against the law
I know that I didn’t regret it
I have just one request
My final, perhaps, before departing…

When I die, bury me in Lapinha
When I die, bury me in Lapinha
Britches, suit jacket, shoulder pads
Britches, suit jacket, shoulder pads

(Repeat)

Go away, my pain
Get away from me
There are so many evil hearts
Ay, it’s so maddening
For love to lose to indifference
Ay, so many problems I saw, I fought
And as a loser, I screamed
That I’m just one man
Without knowing how to change
I’ll never hurt again
I have just one request
My final, perhaps, before departing…

When I die, bury me in Lapinha
When I die, bury me in Lapinha
Britches, suit jacket and shoulder pads
Britches, suit jacket and shoulder pads

Good Bye Bahia, zum zum zum
Cordão de Ouro
I’m going to leave because they killed my Besouro

— Interpretation —

Manoel Henrique Pereira, better known as Besouro Mangangá – or “Cordão de Ouro” (gold chain) – was Brazil’s most legendary capoeirista during the first half of the twentieth century. His dramatic death by stabbing, allegedly from behind, at the age of twenty-four reinforced his idolization within the capoeira world, and earned him a number of popular capoeira songs, including “My Besouro,” with the refrain: “Quando eu morrer, me enterre na Lapinha/ Calça-culote paletó almofadinha.” (“When I die, bury me in Lapinha/ Britches suit jacket shoulder pads”)

Baden Powell heard the Bahian capoeira master Canjiquinha singing this song, along with the girl group Quarteto em Cy, and decided to use its refrain for his next afro-samba, which would compete in TV Record’s First Samba Festival. (He had released the album Os Afro-Sambas with Vinicius de Moraes two years prior.) In the spirit of the new festival — which was launched in response to complaints about the lack of samba in MPB festivals — Powell chose a new partner for the song, the nineteen-year-old lyricist Paulo César Pinheiro, whom he met through his cousin, Pinheiro’s partner João de Aquino. With Elis Regina‘s dramatic performance at the festival, the song took first place.

Dorival Caymmi explained that Lapinha refers to Salvador’s Largo da Lapinha, where civic festivals traditionally took place. Lapinha probably became the chosen burial ground in the song because of its festive tradition and, more superficially, because it rhymed with “almofadinha” (“shoulder pads”). It is also speculated that “calça culote” may be a corruption of original lyrics “calça, colete,” which would change the lyrics slightly,  from “britches” to “slacks, vest.”

Mangangá is the name for a hornet with a particularly painful sting, and in northeastern Brazil is also the name for a giant beetle that eats certain types of wood. The nickname to this day is still used to refer to someone who’s powerful and dangerous.

Baden Powell de Aquino was born near Rio de Janeiro in 1937, son of the cobbler Lilo de Aquino and Adelina. He was named after the British founder of the Scout Movement, Robert Baden-Powell. He demonstrated musical talent at an early age, playing around first with his father’s violin and then on a new guitar, which he learned to play right-handed even though he was left-handed. By age nine he made his first national solo performance, winning first place for best guitar solo on Renato Murce’s program “Papel Carbono” on Radio Nacional. Around age twelve he entered Rio de Janeiro’s National School of Music, and by thirteen he was playing at dances around Rio de Janeiro.  He met and worked with illustrious musicians like Ary Barroso and Pixinguinha at a very young age, and became perhaps best known for his prolific partnerships with Vinicius de Moraes and Paulo César Pinheiro. He died in 2000.

Pinheiro, born in Rio de Janeiro in 1949, composed his earliest songs with Powell’s cousin, João de Aquino, in the mid-1960s. His career as a lyricist took off after Elis Regina performed “Lapinha” at the 1968 Samba festival and he developed a lasting partnership with Powell.

Capoeira group sings about Besouro Mangangá

Largo da Lapinha in Salvador, Bahia, c. 1960.
Besouro Mangangá playing capoeira in Bahia

Lyrics in Portuguese

Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha,
Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Vai meu lamento vai contar
Toda tristeza de viver
Ai a verdade sempre trai
E às vezes traz um mal a mais
Ai só me fez dilacerar
Ver tanta gente se entregar
Mas não me conformei
Indo contra lei
Sei que não me arrependi
Tenho um pedido só
Último talvez, antes de partir
Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha,
Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Sai minha mágoa
Sai de mim
Há tanto coração ruim
Ai é tão desesperador
O amor perder do desamor
Ah tanto erro eu vi, lutei
E como perdedor gritei
Que eu sou um homem só
Sem saber mudar
Nunca mais vou lastimar
Tenho um pedido só
Último talvez, antes de partir
Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha,
Quando eu morrer me enterre na Lapinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Calça culote, paletó almofadinha
Adeus Bahia, zum-zum-zum
Cordão de ouro

The main source for this post was A Canção no Tempo: 85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras vol. 2, by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello.