“Vento de maio” (1966) and “Vento de maio” (1979)

“Vento de maio” by Gilberto Gil (music) and Torquato Neto (lyrics), 1966 



Oi você, que vem de longe // Hey you [girl] who’s come from so far away
Caminhando há tanto tempo // Been walking for so long now
Que vem de vida cansada // You, arriving tired of life
Carregada pelo vento // Carried in by the wind
Oi você, que vem chegando // Hey you, who’s just getting here
Vá entrando, tome assento // Come on in, take a seat
Desapeie dessa tristeza // Dismount from that sorrow
Que eu lhe dou de garantia // Cause I give you this guarantee
A certeza mais segura // With the utmost certainty
Que mais dia, menos dia // That one of these days
No peito de todo mundo vai bater a alegria // Joy will beat in everyone’s chest
Oi, meu irmão, fique certo // Hey, my brother, be confident
Não demora e vai chegar // It won’t take long and is sure to come
Aquele vento mais brando // That gentler wind
E aquele claro luar // And that bright moonlight
Que por dentro desta noite // That within this night
Te ajudarão a voltar // Will help you make your way back
Monte em seu cavalo baio // Get up on your bay horse
Que o vento já vai soprar // Cause the wind’s about to blow
Vai romper o mês de maio // The month of May is gonna break
Não é hora de parar // It’s not the time to stop
Galopando na firmeza // Galloping on steadily
Mais depressa vais chegar // You’ll get there more swiftly


“Vento de maio” by Telo Borges & Márcio Borges (1979) 


Vento de maio rainha de raio estrela cadente // Wind of May, queen of rays, falling star Chegou de repente o fim da viagem  // Suddenly the end of the trip has arrived
Agora já não dá mais pra voltar atrás // Now there’s no going back
Rainha de maio valeu o teu pique // Queen of May, your insistence served
Apenas para chover no meu piquenique // only to rain on my picnic
Assim meu sapato coberto de barro // Leaving my shoe covered in mud
Apenas pra não parar nem voltar atrás // only to keep me from stopping or going back
Rainha de maio valeu a viagem // Queen of May, the trip was great
Agora já não dá mais… // Now it can’t go on
Nisso eu escuto no rádio do carro a nossa canção // But meanwhile I hear our song on the car radio
Sol girassol e meus olhos abertos pra outra emoção // Sun, sunflower, and my eyes open for another emotion
E quase que eu me esqueci que o tempo não pára // And I almost forgot that time doesn’t stop
Nem vai esperar // Nor will it wait
Vento de maio rainha dos raios de sol // Wind of May, queen of the sun’s rays
Vá no teu pique estrela cadente até nunca mais // Go on get lost falling star, until never
Não te maltrates nem tentes voltar o que não tem mais vez // Don’t mistreat yourself or try to go back to what no longer has a chance
Nem lembro teu nome nem sei // I don’t even remember your name, I don’t even know
Estrela qualquer lá no fundo do mar // Just one of those stars in the depths of the sea
Vento de maio rainha dos raios de sol // Wind of May, queen of the sun’s rays
Rainha de maio valeu o teu pique // Queen of May, your insistence served
Apenas para chover no meu piquenique // only to rain on my picnic
Assim meu sapato coberto de barro // Leaving my shoe covered in mud
Apenas pra não parar nem voltar atrás // only to keep from stopping or going back

— Commentary —

Torquato & Gil, 1960s.
Torquato & Gil, late 1960s.

Torquato Neto wrote the lyrics for the first “Vento de maio” here in partnership with Gilberto Gil just before the Tropicália movement they were such an important part of took off.

Gil, Ana Duarte and Torquato at Torquato's wedding in 1966.
Gil, Ana Duarte and Torquato at Torquato’s wedding in 1966.

Neto (November 9, 1944 – November 10, 1972) was a lyricist, poet and journalist born in the arid northeastern Brazilian city of Teresina, Piauí.  He was fascinated with poetry and activism from a young age: At eleven, he requested the complete works of Shakespeare from his parents; at fifteen, he was kicked out of his school in Teresina for his political rabble-rousing. Neto then spent three years studying in Salvador (1960-63), where he first became acquainted with the Bahian musicians Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Caetano Veloso and Caetano’s sister, Maria Bethânia, and Gal Costa, along with the Bahian lyricist and poet José Carlos Capinan, who would also become a pivotal player in Tropicália.

Chico_TorquatoIn 1965, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso moved to São Paulo and spent a lot of time between there and Rio, and that’s when their collaboration with Neto really got going. In 1966, Elis Regina and Jair Rodrigues recorded Neto’s and Gil’s “Louvação,” and the song became Neto’s first big hit as a lyricist. That same year, Wilson Simonal released “Vento de Maio”, and in 1967 it became an even bigger success with Nara Leão’s recording of the song as the title track of her album.

Torquato Neto, Caetano Veloso, and José Carlos Capinan.
Torquato Neto, Caetano Veloso, and José Carlos Capinan.

1967 was the year that Tropicália blasted onto the Brazilian music scene, beginning with Caetano’s “Alegria, Alegria” and Gil’s “Domingo no Parque.” On the seminal collaborative album from that movement — Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis (1968) — three of the biggest hits had lyrics by Neto: the Tropicália anthem “Geleia Geral,” with Gil; and “Mamãe Coragem” and “Deus vos salve esta casa santa,” with Caetano; that year, with Gil, Neto also released the hit “Marginalia II.”

Torquato Neto at Rio's D'Engenho de Dentro Psychiatric Hospital.
Torquato Neto at Rio’s D’Engenho de Dentro Psychiatric Hospital.

It’s no coincidence that Neto died a day after his twenty-eighth birthday. He committed suicide after struggling with depression throughout his twenties, leaving a note with a flurry of disconnected thoughts that ended by asking those who found him not to wake his three-year-old son.

 

 

 

– “Vento de Maio” (Telo Borges & Márcio Borges, 1979) –

L-R:  Mané Buxa, Milton Nascimento, Jaceline (on floor), Lô Borges, Célio Cabral, Telo Borges, Duca Leal and Márcio Borges at Milton Nascimento's house in Três Pontas, Minas Gerais, 1971.
L-R: Mané Buxa, Milton Nascimento, Jaceline (on floor), Lô Borges, Célio Cabral, Telo Borges, Duca Leal and Márcio Borges at Milton Nascimento’s house in Três Pontas, Minas Gerais, 1971.
Milton Nascimento in the middle and Telo Borges at right in Belo Horizonte in 1973, celebrating 35 years of marriage for the Borges's parents.
Milton Nascimento in the middle and Telo Borges at right in Belo Horizonte in 1973, celebrating 35 years of marriage for the Borges’s parents.

“Vento de maio” (1979) is Telo Borges‘s first recorded composition. Telo, born January 22, 1958, is the younger brother of Márcio Borges (b. January 31, 1946)  and Lô Borges (b. January 10, 1952). The older Borges brothers became famous when Telo was still just a kid, through their participation in Brazil’s famed music festivals of the late 1960s.  Their careers especially took off in the early 1970s, after their release of the groundbreaking 1972 album Clube da Esquina alongside Milton Nascimento and other clube da esquina (“corner club”)  musician pals from Minas Gerais. In this song, Telo makes several references to the song “Um girassol da cor do seu cabelo” from that album, by Lô Borges and Márcio Borges (and one of the first songs on this blog). References include “our song comes on the radio, sol, girassol“; “just one of those stars in the depths of the sea”; and even the way the song revolves around wind and solar rays : “Girassol…” begins with “vento solar e estrela do mar” (solar wind and starfish).

Around the time Clube da Esquina was released, Telo began to spend his vacations at Milton’s house in Rio, and participated in the recording of Milton’s 1973 album Milagre dos Peixes. At age 17 he composed “Vento de maio,” which he says was about a romance he was living at the time. Elis Regina recorded the song together with Lô Borges on her 1980 LP Elisbringing greater recognition to Telo, who went on tour with Lô that year as part of the Projeto Pixinguinha.

 

 

“Tenho Sede” and “Lamento Sertanejo”

Lyrics from “Tenho Sede” by Dominguinhos and Anastácia (1975)

Bring me a cup of water, I’m thirsty and this thirst could kill me
My throat yearns for a little water and my eyes yearn for your gaze
A plant needs water when it wants to bloom
The sky in turn darkens when it is about to rain
My heart only needs your love, if you don’t give it, I could die

Lyrics from “Lamento Sertanejo” by Dominguinhos and Gilberto Gil (1973)

Because I’m from there, from the backlandsthe shrubland
Out there, in the middle of the woods
From the brush of the fields
I barely go out, I barely have any friends, I’m barely able to stay in the city
Without living in contradiction

Because I’m from there, for sure that’s why
I don’t like soft beds, I can’t eat without pork rinds
I barely speak, I barely know anything
I’m like stray head of cattle in this crowd, herd walking aimlessly

— Interpretation —

Luiz Gonzaga, foreground, playing with Dominguinhos.
Luiz Gonzaga, foreground, playing with Dominguinhos.

Dominguinhos was the hand-picked successor to Luiz Gonzaga, the musician who practically invented the northeastern baião-forró genre in Brazil in the mid-20th century and made it popular throughout the country. 

Like Luiz Gonzaga, Dominguinhos – born José Domingos de Morais on February, 12, 1941 – was from the interior of Pernambuco (Dominguinhos was from Garanhuns,  about 400 kilometers as the crow flies from Gonzaga’s hometown of Exu); also like Gonzaga, Dominguinhos was the son of a small-scale farmer, accordion player and tuner – Chicão.

As Dominguinhos describes in this program, he began to perform with two of  his brothers at open-air markets, bar entrances and parties when he was seven, and by the time he was eight he was collecting change in a hat to help provide for the family of ten children.

The Tavares Correia Hotel in Garanhuns, Pernambuco, where 8-year-old Dominguinhos played for Luiz Gonzaga for the first time.
The Tavares Correia Hotel in Garanhuns, Pernambuco, where 8-year-old Dominguinhos played for Luiz Gonzaga for the first time.

One place he and his brothers regularly performed was the entryway to the Tavares Correia Hotel. The budding musicians were surprised one day to be invited inside the hotel to play at a banquet: a special guest they’d never heard of was in town and wanted them to perform for him.

Dominguinhos relates, “In 1949 or 1950 Luiz Gonzaga appeared in Garanhuns and I don’t know why but they had us play for him at what they called a banquet. He really liked me, and said, ‘Boy, I’m going to give you a little help’: he gave me a big roll of money – still don’t know to this day how much – and his address in Rio de Janeiro, and told me ‘Any time you go to Rio, you come find me, cause I want to help you’; when I was thirteen, I went and found him in Rio.”

At 13, Dominguinhos moved with his family to Rio de Janeiro on a pau-de-arara truck like this one.
At 13, Dominguinhos moved with his family to Rio de Janeiro on a pau-de-arara truck like this one.

Like millions of other migrants who abandoned the arid northeast in the mid to late twentieth century, Dominguinhos made the move with his family to Nilópolis, Rio de Janeiro, on a pau de arara (parrot’s perch) truck after his father gave up farming in Pernambuco. It was an eleven day journey on hard wooden benches. (Around that time, pau de arara was coming into currency as a pejorative term to refer to northeasterners.) Upon arriving in Rio, Dominguinhos and his father hastily sought out Gonzaga, who spoke briefly to Chicão and promptly gave him a new red accordion.

Dominguinhos, left, with Luiz Gonzaga.
Dominguinhos, left, with Luiz Gonzaga.

Dominguinhos said that from that point on he was inseparable from Gonzaga. He began to accompany Gonzaga to the studio, but didn’t play with him there until a few years later: In 1957, the two were in a studio packed with members of the press covering Gonzaga’s new release; Gonzaga surprised Dominguinhos by publicly introducing him as his musical successor and inviting him to join him playing “Forró no escuro.” Dominguinhos said he basically began a new life that day.

Gonzaga also gave Dominguinhos his artistic name. Dominguinhos recalled Gonzaga telling him to scrap his childish nickname — Neném (Baby) — in favor of Dominguinhos (little Domingos), which would also serve as an homage to Domingos Ambrósio, a fellow accordionist Gonzaga had grown close to while serving in the army in Juiz de Fora.

Luiz Gonzaga had a notoriously tumultuous relationship with his adoptive guitarist son Gonzaguinha, who was a few years younger than Dominguinhos. Dominguinhos said Gonzaga called him his “other son,” believing he was the accordionist son Gonzaga had always wanted.

Anastácia and Dominguinhos met on a tour through the northeast of Brazil in 1967.
Anastácia and Dominguinhos met on a tour through the northeast of Brazil in 1967.

Dominguinhos never wrote lyrics; he only composed tunes in his head. He was married to the forró singer and lyricist Anastácia for eleven years, from the late 1960s through the late 1970s, and together they composed some of his best-loved songs.  Anastácia wrote the lyrics for “Tenho Sede” and Dominguinhos said they struck him as weird at first – particularly “Bring me a cup of water”; but he knew not to question Anastácia too much, and the song became one of his most popular. The couple composed about 210 songs together, including the sensation “Eu só quero um xodó,” which Gilberto Gil released in 1973 and which Anastácia calculates was re-recorded by 440 singers around the world.

In the early 1970s, after returning from three years of exile in London, Gilberto Gil – a northeasterner from Bahia – was increasingly exploring northeastern themes and elements in his music. Gil’s producer, Guilherme Araújo, saw Dominguinhos playing with Luiz Gonzaga in 1972 and invited him to work with Gil and Gal Costa. Gil composed lyrics for Dominguinhos’s tune “Lamento Sertanejo,” voicing the sentiments of recently arrived migrants who felt out of place and discriminated against in southeastern Brazilian cities. During these most oppressive years of Brazil’s military dictatorship, calling attention to Brazil’s downtrodden populations – mostly ignored by the state media – represented a less censorable form of protest.

Dominguinhos and Gilberto Gil together on stage in 2010.
Dominguinhos and Gilberto Gil together on stage in 2010.

The 1970s were the peak years of rural exodus in Brazil; destitute northeasterners poured into southeastern Brazilian cities and encountered rampant discrimination and a colder climate and culture. In 1940, about 31% of Brazil’s population lived in cities; by 1970, urban residents accounted for more than 50% of the population, and in 1980, nearly 70%. Dominguinhos recalled  snide remarks like, “Those yucca-eaters, come here dying of hunger,” and remembered being received on stage with boos and paper airplanes from audiences in São Paulo still prejudiced against northeastern music. But he felt he suffered little discrimination in comparison with Luiz Gonzaga: “I got there and the path was already halfway open for me,” he said, remarking on the progress Luiz Gonzaga had already made in combating prejudices by the time he began performing in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Dominguinhos was widely loved for his spirited performances and sweet, sunny demeanor. He passed away on July 23, 2013, in São Paulo, after a long struggle with lung cancer. He had discovered the cancer in 2007, and a couple years into treatment remarked, “I don’t know how I ended up with this – I never smoked. But there are things that just happen that we’re unable to explain.” He played his final show on December 13, 2012, in Exu, Pernambuco – a tribute concert on what would have been Luiz Gonzaga’s 100th birthday.

Dominguinhos playing his final show in Exu, Pernambuco on December 13, 2012, accompanied by the young accordionist Cícero Feitosa.
Dominguinhos playing his final show in Exu, Pernambuco on December 13, 2012, accompanied by the young accordionist Cícero Feitosa.

Above, Dominguinhos plays “Lamento Sertanejo” with Mariana Aydar, Hamilton de Holanda, Duani, Siba, Tavinho and Trio+1.

Lyrics in Portuguese

“Tenho Sede”

Traga-me um copo d’agua, tenho sede
E essa sede pode me matar
Minha garganta pede um pouco d’água
E os meus olhos pedem o teu olhar

A planta pede chuva quando quer brotar
O céu logo escurece quando vai chover
Meu coração só pede o teu amor
Se não me deres posso até morrer

“Lamento Sertanejo”

Por ser de lá
Do sertão, lá do cerrado
Lá do interior do mato
Da caatinga do roçado.
Eu quase não saio
Eu quase não tenho amigos
Eu quase que não consigo
Ficar na cidade sem viver contrariado.

Por ser de lá
Na certa por isso mesmo
Não gosto de cama mole
Não sei comer sem torresmo.
Eu quase não falo
Eu quase não sei de nada
Sou como rês desgarrada
Nessa multidão boiada caminhando a esmo.

Expresso 2222

Lyrics from “Expresso 2222” by Gilberto Gil
Album: Expresso 2222 LP (Philips, 1972)

Good Audio Version

The Express 2222 started running
It runs direct from Bonsucesso to the hereafter
The Express 2222 started running
From Brazil Central Station
It runs direct from Bonsucesso
To after the year 2000

They say there are a lot of people from now
Getting ahead, leaving to go there
To 2001, and 2, and  times beyond
To wherever that highway of time will end up
Of time will end up
Of time will end up, little girl, of time goes

According to those who already rode the Express
Round about the year 2000 is that
Final station of the life-path
On mother earth, conceived
Of wind, of fire, of water and salt
Of water and salt
Of water and salt
Oh, little girl, of water and salt

They say it looks like the tram on Mount Corcovado
Except that you don’t catch it, get on, sit down and ride
The track has become a glow that has no end

Hey, that has no end
That has no end
Oh, little girl, that has no end

You never get to the concrete Christ
Of material, or anything real
After 2001 and 2 and times beyond
Christ is like someone who was seen
Rising to heaven
Rising to heaven
On the veil of a shining cloud rising to heaven

— Interpretation —

Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso in Trafalgar Square, London, 1969.

I’ve noticed a lot of people being directed to this site looking for “Expresso 2222.” The song is the title track for Gilberto Gil‘s 1972 LP ( No. 26 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s ranking of the 100 best Brazilian albums of all time), which includes a number of songs that Gil wrote while in exile in London during the most repressive years of Brazil’s military regime.

Gil says the first verse of the song — in Portuguese, “Começou a circular o Expresso 2222/Que parte direto de Bonsucesso pra depois” — came to him one day in London; he wrote it in a notebook, but the last part – “to the hereafter” – gave him a block and he couldn’t write any more.  He decided to let the verse sit, “like wine in a barrel, to age.” Nearly a year later he re-opened the notebook, which he had also used for messages and notes to his wife, and picked up where he’d left off, quickly finishing the lyrics and putting the words to music.

Gil explains that his childhood and adolescence were marked by train travel, “one of the most fundamental modes of transportation for us in Bahia.” The Leste Brasileiro trains that ran into and out of the central stations in Ituaçu, Nazaré das Farinhas, and Salvador – the towns in Bahia, Brazil, where Gil grew up – had  made a lasting impression on him, and for some reason the image of a train with the number 222 stuck in his head; he says it was the first image that came to mind when he began writing the song.

The Express 2222 is a metaphor for a drug trip, according to Gil, who relates, “It was a time of a lot of marijuana, LSD, and mescaline; this culture was at its height in London, and the train was a literal allegory of all of this.” Bonsucesso, a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, made its way into the song most importantly because it rhymed, but also because it represented to Gil a place where he came from and where the journey could have started — “Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, that neighborhood — going from there to the hereafter.”

The train to Christ the Redeemer on Mt. Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro.

The tram of Corcovado that Gil mentions in the song is the train that ends up at Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue. The little girl addressed in the song only made it in because Gil needed a word, in this case “menina,” to make the “rhythmic transition between one line and the next, like the hitch between two train cars.”  After including her, however, Gil brought her back in the next verse, saying “I felt the need to bring her back in the next scene, to see her again at the next station… Those crazy things:  The pattern for a song is craziness!”

I’ve seen translations beginning with “Here comes the Express 2222,” which I think this sounds better than “The Express 2222 started running,” but I’ve left the latter since it’s the most literal translation.  Lyrics in Portuguese:

Começou a circular o Expresso 2222
Que parte direto de Bonsucesso pra depois
Começou a circular o Expresso 2222
Da Central do Brasil
Que parte direto de Bonsucesso
Pra depois do ano 2000
Dizem que tem muita gente de agora
Se adiantando, partindo pra lá
Pra 2001 e 2 e tempo afora
Até onde essa estrada do tempo vai dar
Do tempo vai dar
Do tempo vai dar, menina, do tempo vai
Segundo quem já andou no Expresso
Lá pelo ano 2000 fica a tal
Estação final do percurso-vida
Na terra-mãe concebida
De vento, de fogo, de água e sal
De água e sal, de água e sal
Ô, menina, de água e sal
Dizem que parece o bonde do morro
Do Corcovado daqui
Só que não se pega e entra e senta e anda
O trilho é feito um brilho que não tem fim
Oi, que não tem fim
Que não tem fim
Ô, menina, que não tem fim
Nunca se chega no Cristo concreto
De matéria ou qualquer coisa real
Depois de 2001 e 2 e tempo afora
O Cristo é como quem foi visto subindo ao céu
Subindo ao céu
Num véu de nuvem brilhante subindo ao céu

Main source for this post: Gilberto Gil: Todas as Letrased. Carlos Rennó, 2003