Domingo no Parque

Lyrics to “Domingo no Parque” (Sunday in the park) by Gilberto Gil (1967)
Recorded  with Os Mutantes for the LP Philips III Festival of Brazilian Popular Music (1967)

The king of play — hey, José
The king of trouble — hey, João
One worked at the market — hey José
The other in construction — hey, João

Last week, on the weekend
João decided not to fight
On Sunday afternoon, he went out in a hurry
And he didn’t go to Ribeira to play
Capoeira
He didn’t go over there, to Ribeira
He went to court [a girl]

José as always on the weekend
Took down his stall and vanished
He went to take, on Sunday, a stroll in the park

Over there, near Boca do Rio
In the park was where he first caught sight of
Juliana
There he saw

Juliana on the wheel with João
A rose and an ice cream in her hand
Juliana, his dream, an illusion
Juliana and the friend João
The thorn on the rose wounded Zé [José]
And the ice cream froze his heart

The ice cream and the rose — oh, José
The rose and the ice cream — oh, José
Hi, dancing on the chest — oh, José
Of  the playful José — oh, José

The ice cream and the rose — oh, José
The rose and the ice cream — oh, José
Hi, turning over in the mind — oh, José
Of the playful José — oh, José

Juliana turning –hi, turning
Hi, on the ferris wheel — hi, turning
The friend João — hi, João

The ice cream is strawberry — it’s red
Hi, turning, and the rose — it’s red
Hi, turning, turning — it’s red
Hi, turning, turning — look at the knife!

Look at the blood on his hand — hey, José
Juliana on the ground — hey,  José
Another body down — hey, José
His friend João — hey, José

Tomorrow there’s no market — hey, José
There’s no more construction — hey, João
There’s no more playing — hey, José
There’s no more trouble — hey, João

— Interpretation —

Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes mix berimbau and electric guitar in their performance of “Domingo no Parque” at the Third Festival of Brazilian Popular Music in Rio in 1967.

Gilberto Gil began this song with the intention of writing something innovative — with a strong regional influence from his native Bahia — for the III Festival de Música Popular Brasileira with TV Record.

The song uses berimbau —  the single-string percussion instrument of African origin used in the capoeira circles so characteristic of Bahia — and the music, pattern of singing (call and response), and lyrics follow a folkloric form that recalls the songs sung in capoeira circles.  Gil explains, “The song was born, then, from the desire to replicate the folk song, and represent the archetypes of capoeira music, but with exclusive, specific facts: with such a romance, like a Mexican story.”

To begin, Gil introduces his characters– the market worker and the capoeira player. Much of the story that follows came about through the rhymes that Gil discovered as he wrote:  to rhyme with the Portuguese word for vanished, sumiu, he thought of Boca do Rio, a beachside neighborhood in Salvador that was a popular hang-out among Gil and his friends in the 1960s and 1970s; when he thought of Boca do Rio, he thought of a ferris wheel he had seen there, and jotted down “ferris wheel” as a note to himself to work the word into the song.

At that point, he explains, it was necessary to bring João and José together. João hadn’t gone “over there” () to Ribeira (another neighborhood in Salvador), but had gone instead to “to court” (namorar = flirt, court, make love, etc. ), to rhyme namorar (pronounced namorá) with “.”  Here the two characters come together. One is audacious and open, the other timid and withdrawn. The latter is in love with Juliana but doesn’t have the courage to tell her, and could only dream of talking to her; he finds the bold friend João flirting with her in the park after meeting her for the first time, and the sense of disappointment and injustice is too much for José to bear.

To conclude, Gil begins making allusions to blood: the ice cream becomes red strawberry ice cream, and the rose is a red rose, and then the cut of the knife — “a sudden impulse, a sudden manifestation of a power within José that he didn’t know he had,” explains Gil.

Gil wrote “Domingo no Parque” in the Hotel Danúbio in São Paulo, where he lived for a year. At the time, he was married to the singer Nana Caymmi  — daughter of Dorival Caymmi — and, after a day spent with a friend of Dorival’s, Gil was thinking a lot about Bahia, and was inspired to write the song. He says he and Nana got to the hotel around 2 a.m.; he stayed up all night writing, and recorded “Domingo no Parque” the next day.

The song came in second place at the III Festival of Música Popular Brasileira, but was definitely the most innovative, and together with Caetano Veloso‘s contribution “Alegria, Alegria,”  represented the beginning of what Gil and Caetano Veloso referred to as their “universal sound.” Universal sound defied norms for Brazilian popular music,  incorporating influences from many genres and from all over the world — a revolutionary experiment in Brazilian popular music at the time, when many artists and critics were fighting to defend the purity of Brazilian music. The universal sound came to represent the nascent Tropicália movement.

Main sources for this post: Gilberto Gil’s commentary on the song in Carlos Rennó’s Gilberto Gil: Todas as Letras (2003, Gilberto Gil) and Christopher Dunn’s Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counter-Culture. 

Post by Victoria Broadus

O Quereres

Lyrics from “O Quereres” by Caetano Veloso

Album:  Velô (1984)

Where you want a revolver, I’m a coconut tree

And where you want money, I’m passion

Where you want rest, I’m desire

And where I’m desire, you don’t want it

And where you want nothing, nothing lacks

And where you fly really high, I’m the ground

And where you step on the ground, my soul jumps

And gets liberty in the vastness

Where you want family, I’m a crazy guy

And where you want a romantic, I’m bourgeois

Where you want Leblon, I’m Pernambuco

And where you want a eunuch, I’m a stud

Where you want yes or no, maybe

And where you see, I don’t glimpse reason

Where you want the wolf, I’m the brother

And where you want a cowboy, I’m the Chinese

Ah, brutal flower of desire

Ah, brutal flower, brutal flower

Where you want the act, I’m the spirit

And where you want tenderness, I’m lustfull

Where you want free form, I’m decasyllable

And where you seek an angel, I’m a woman

Where you want pleasure, I’m what hurts

Where you want torture, meekness

Where you want a home, revolution

And where you want a bandit, I’m a hero

I would like to want to love you love

Build us a sweetest prison

Find just the right compatibility

All meter and rhyme and never pain

But life is real and it’s one of biases

And just look what an ambush love set up for me

I want you (and you don’t want) as I am

I don’t want you (and you don’t want) as you are

Ah, brutal flower of desire

Ah, brutal flower, brutal flower

Where you want a rally, an arcade game

And where you want romance, rock n roll

Where you want the moon, I’m the sun

And where pure nature, I’m insecticide

Where you want mystery, I’m the light

And where you want a little corner, I’m the entire world

Where you want Lent, February

And where you want a coconut tree, I’m a howitzer

Your wanting and your always being up to

What in me is in me so unequal

Makes me want you good, want you bad

Good – you, bad – your wanting way

Infinitely personal

And me wanting to want you without end

And, wanting you, to learn the total

Of the want that exists, and that doesn’t exist in me.

–Interpretation–

Caetano Veloso wrote this song in the structure of a cordel, or “string” folk song, but confesses the lyrics were influenced by Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” (Another Side of Bob Dylan). While the message is a bit different, Caetano says both songs essentially say “I’m not where you want me.”

Find more about Caetano Veloso in the post on “O Leãozinho.”

Post by Victoria Broadus (About)

O Leãozinho

Lyrics from “O Leãozinho” by Caetano Veloso

Album: Bicho (1977)

I really like seeing you, Little Lion

Walking under the sun

I really like you, Little Lion

To un-sadden, Little Lion, my oh so lonely heart

It’s enough to come upon you along my way

A lion cub, a morning ray of light

Pulling my gaze like a magnet

My heart is the sun, father of all color

When he turns bare skin golden

I like seeing you under the sun, Little Lion

Seeing you enter the sea

Your skin, your light, your mane

I like staying under the sun, Little Lion

Wetting my mane

Being close to you and  carrying on

— Interpretation —

As you can see in the video, Caetano Veloso had a “mane” when he wrote this song.  Caetano wrote the song for Dadi, the similarly bemaned bassist for the Bahian rock-MPB group Os Novos Baianos (whose 1972 album Acabou Chorare was ranked #1 on Rolling Stone’s list of Top 100 Brazilian Albums).

Caetano and Gilberto Gil collaborated with Os Novos Baianos, inviting the group to participate in their 1969 pre-exile performance, Barra 69.  Caetano developed a close friendship with Dadi, who went on to form a new band in 1977,  Cor do Som (Color of Sound).  In an interview with Brazil’s Revista Epoca, Caetano explains that he was inspired by Dadi, a friend whom he adores, “who is beautiful, and was younger and even more beautiful at the time,” and who’s “a Leo, like me.”

Caetano Veloso is recognized as one of the most influential figures in contemporary Brazilian music and the arts, alongside his younger sister, Maria Bethânia.  Born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, in 1942, Caetano went to Salvador for university in the early 1960s, where he quickly began to garner attention as a singer-songwriter. Around the same time, he met fellow Bahian singers Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Tom Ze, and began to perform with them. He went to Rio de Janeiro in 1965 with Maria Bethania, when she was invited to substitute Nara Leão on the show “Espectáculo.”  That year, Caetano was invited to record his first LP, with “Cavaleiro” and “Samba em Paz.” Later, as we saw in the post on Panis et Circenses, Caetano was at the forefront of Brazil’s Tropicalist movement; he has since remained one of Brazil’s most vocal cultural and political activists.

A quick note about the translation: The last line – in Portuguese, “De estar perto de você e entrar numa” – is ambiguous and open to interpretation. “Entrar numa” essentially means become involved some way — flirt, play around, etc.  There’s no precise literal translation, so I’ve left it as “carry on.”

Post by Victoria Broadus (About)