“Mangueira, Não” and “Silenciar a Mangueira, Não”

“Mangueira, Não” by Herivelto Martins and Grande Otelo (1943)

They destroyed Praça Onze
They demolished plazas and roads, I know
They can even do away with Estácio, grand old Estácio de Sá
Knock down all the morros, tear down my shack
But silence Mangueira, no!
Mangueira was a morro born dancing samba
And lived singing
Mangueira was born, Mangueira became…
Let me hear you, tamborim! Let me hear you, percussion!
Nobody will be able to say Mangueira passed away
Mangueira can’t die!

— Interpretation —

Cartola, pictured here on Morro da Mangueira, was   not happy with the message sent by "Mangueira, Não" and wrote a version of his own the following year.
Cartola, pictured here on Morro da Mangueira, was not happy with the message sent by “Mangueira, Não” and wrote a version of his own the following year.

Herivelto Martins and Grande Otelo were loyal fans of the samba school Mangueira, as this song from November 1943, makes clear.

Praça Onze was destroyed to make room for Avenida Presidente Vargas, which was inaugurated in September 1944.
Praça Onze was destroyed to make room for Avenida Presidente Vargas, which was inaugurated in September 1944.

In the song, they mention the destruction of Praça Onze, an act the pair had immortalized about a year earlier in one of Brazil’s most well-known sambas, “Praça Onze.” Praça Onze de Junho  hosted Rio’s first samba gatherings and samba school parades in the 1910s – 1930s; it was demolished to make way for Avenida Presidente Vargas in the beginning of the 1940s.

In this song, Grande Otelo and Herivelto Martins acknowledge that Praça Onze is gone — fine — and say for all they’re concerned Estácio, Rio’s first samba school, can go too; but not Mangueira. But as it turns out, the pair’s dismissive attitude toward other samba schools in “Mangueira, Não” was not a big hit. The next year, Estácio samba school held a party in honor of Mangueira, and for the occasion, Cartola, one Mangueira’s founders, composed a samba by almost the same name – “Silenciar a Mangueira, Não” – that stood up for other schools in the name of tradition and friendly competition, since “one swallow does not a summer make.” The original samba ended at “…old Estácio de Sá.” Monarco added the rest of the lyrics in his 1980 recording, one of just two recordings of the song.  (The other is from 2002.)  Pastoras (feminine of pastor, left in Portuguese in the translation below) are what the women singing the chorus in rodas de samba are often called.

Appropriately, the most famous recording of this song ended up being by Monarco, a celebrated samba composer from Portela samba school:

“Silenciar a Mangueira, Não” by Cartola (1944)

Silence Mangueira, no
Someone said one swallow alone does not make summer, either
We need to have adversaries, like Oswaldo Cruz
The proverb says it’s from dispute that light is born
A school that shouldn’t go anywhere
Is the old Estácio de Sá, old Estácio de Sá
In Mangueira, poetry lives in our heart
A poet put it this way
To see Mangueira is tradition
Mangueira has Cartola
In Estácio, Ismael
Portela had Paulo, who was our God in the sky
Silence Mangueira, no
If you go to Mangueira, where beauty seduces
Send a big hug, sent from Oswaldo Cruz
Don’t despair, pastora, listen to what my samba says
If you fight for Mangueira, one day you’ll be happy

 Lyrics in Portuguese

“Mangueira, Não”

Acabaram com a Praça Onze
Demoliram praças e ruas, eu sei
Podem até acabar com o Estácio
O velho Estácio de Sá
Derrubem todos os morros
Derrubem meu barracão
Silenciar a Mangueira, não!

Mangueira foi um morro
Que nasceu sambando
Mangueira foi um morro
Que viveu cantando

Mangueira nasceu…
Mangueira se fez…
Fala tamborim!
Fala bateria!

Ninguém há de dizer
Que Mangueira faleceu
Mangueira não morre!

“Silenciar a Mangueira, Não”

Silenciar a Mangueira, não
disse alguém
uma andorinha só
não faz verão também
devemos ter adversários
como Oswaldo Cruz
diz o provérbio
da discussão é que nasce a luz
uma escola que não devia acabar
era o velho Estácio de Sá
em Mangueira a poesia
mora em nosso coração
um poeta assim dizia
ver Mangueira é tradição
a Mangueira tem Cartola
no Estácio, Ismael
a Portela tinha o Paulo
que era o nosso deus no céu
se tu fores à Mangueira
onde a beleza seduz
leva um abraço apertado
lembrança de Oswaldo Cruz
não desanime, pastora
ouça o que o meu samba diz
se lutares pela Mangueira
um dia serás feliz

Main source for this post: Grande Otelo: uma biografia, by Sérgio Cabral and conversation with Jairo Severiano.

Adeus, Mangueira

“Adeus, Mangueira” by Herivelto Martins and Grande Otelo (1958)

Juscelino summoned me – I’m going to die of saudade, but I’m going

Goodbye, Mangueira, goodbye my Vigário Geral
Goodbye, my samba, goodbye federal capital
I was born on the morro (ai ai ai), and I grew up on the morro (ai ai ai)
Excuse me, Sir, I’m going to take my people with me
Mangueira — first station — is a witness that I can’t live without dancing samba

— Interpretation —

brasilia nova capital
This iconic sign pointing to the site of the new capital reads “Brasilia: The New Capital of Brazil. Some against it, many in favor of it; everyone benefiting from it!”

In 1958, the same year bossa nova was emerging from musical encounters in seaside apartments in Copacabana, and “Chega de Saudade” was first released, Brazil was in the midst of a dramatic period of development. Two years earlier, in September 1956, Congress had approved President Juscelino Kubitschek’s plan to build a new capital city in the middle of the arid central highlands state of Goiás. The ambitious idea for a capital in the middle of the vast country had been floating around since the late 19th century, but Kubitschek adopted the initiative with passion, dedicated to the idea of thus uniting the nation. In response to congressional approval of the project, Kubitschek reportedly told a friend, “Today is the happiest day of my life. And you know why the project was approved? They don’t think I can make it happen.”

When Lucio Costa's pilot plan was chosen as the design for Brasilia, it was widely criticized for being a mere sketch, not a true plan. Based on the shape of a cross, it is often described as an "airplane," though Costa said he preferred it be considered a butterfly.
When Lucio Costa’s pilot plan was chosen as the design for Brasilia, it was widely criticized for being a mere sketch, not a true plan. Based on the shape of a cross, it is often described as an “airplane,” though Costa said he preferred it be considered a butterfly.

Kubitschek enlisted a few key men to help him prove Congress wrong.  As the Brazilian writer Otto Lauro Resende put it, Brasilia was the “conjunction of the loucuras (madness) of four men”: Kubitschek; Israel Pinheiro, the engineer who presided over the Companhia Urbanizadora da Nova Capital – the government body created in September 1956 to take care of all aspects of construction of the new capital; Oscar Niemeyer, the modernist architect responsible for much of the city; and the French-born planner and architect Lúcio Costa, whose “pilot plan” won the controversial contest in 1957 for the design  of the new capital.

Indeed, thanks to the feverish pace of these four leaders in particular, in just forty-three months Brazil had a new capital, inaugurated on April 21, 1960. The lofty modernist aspirations of Brasilia’s planners fell notoriously flat, of course: The city’s separation of areas for work, leisure, and residency ended up doing away with so many of the encounters and exchanges that make cities vibrant. Brasilia was soon criticized as a “heartless city,” a “city without street corners,” a “city of bureaucrats,” and a “fantasy island.” This was clearly not the most appealing place to be transferred to from Rio de Janeiro.

Construction workers in Brasilia, 1959.
Construction workers in Brasilia, 1959.

Herivelto Martins composed “Adeus, Mangueira” together with Grande Othelo for the 1958 chanchada film É de chuáThe samba reflects the sadness of a worker who was summoned to leave the still-federal capital, Rio de Janeiro, to go work for the government in the desolate new city. It surely captures the dismay many workers with deep roots in Rio must have felt in response to the capital being transferred to soulless Brasilia.

I’ve translated saudade in other posts, but in this post thought it was best to keep it in Portuguese; here it is essentially saying, “I’m going to die of homesickness/longing [for Rio].” As in other posts,  I’ve also left morro in Portuguese since the Portuguese word captures both “hillside” and “favela.” Mangueira is the morro so well known in the samba world — probably the most mentioned in all samba compositions — where Cartola, Carlinhos Cachaça and others founded one of the first samba schools, G.R.E.S. Estação Primeira de Mangueira. Here, as in the name of the school itself, “estação primeira” (first station) refers to the fact that Mangueira was the first station on the suburban train line out of Central Station. And Vigário Geral is another neighborhood in Rio’s north zone; it was probably included to rhyme with “capital federal.”


Lyrics in Portuguese

Adeus Mangueira
Adeus meu Vigario Geral
Adeus meu samba
Adeus capital federal

Foi no morro que eu nasci (ai ai ai)
e no morro me criei (ai ai ai)
Brasilia me chamou pra trabalhar
seu dotor dá licença
minha gente eu vou levar

Mangueira, estação primeira
é testemunha que eu não vivo sem sambar

Que Rei Sou Eu

Lyrics from “Que Rei Sou Eu” by Herivelto Martins and Valdemar Ressurreição (1945)

What [sort of] king am I, without a kingdom, without a crown
Without a castle, without a queen
After all, what sort of king am I?
My dominion is small, and it’s restricted
I only give orders in my district
Because the king there died.
I don’t have servants in tailcoats, a carriage sans steward
And no one kisses my feet!
My blood is blue, but without traces of royalty
Samba is my nobility
After all, what sort of king am I?

What sort of king am I? A phony king?

Herivelto Martins (1912 - 1992) still reigns as one of Brazil's greatest Carnival "tragic-romantic" composers continues.
Herivelto Martins (1912 – 1992) is known as perhaps Brazil’s greatest “tragic-romantic” composer.

Herivelto Martins composed this samba hoping for a hit for Carnival 1945, and he got it.

In 1944, the composer Sinval Silva (one of Carmen Miranda‘s favorite composers, who composed “Adeus Batucada“, 1935)  introduced Herivelto Martins to Valdemar Ressurreição, a composer and vocalist from Ceará. Valdemar played his compositions for Martins, hoping that Martins’s Trio de Ouro — an ensemble Herivelto formed in 1937 and recorded with through the 1960s — would record some of them.  One of Valdemar’s songs caught Herivelto’s attention, with the lyrics: “What sort of king am I, who lives like this, without purpose, without a kingdom, without a crown, without a castle, and without anyone.”

Herivelto adapted the lyrics to the version translated above, and composed an entirely new melody, but he listed Valdemar Ressurreição as a partner to give him credit for the inspiration.

Francisco Alves, known as the "King of Voice," counts among Brazil's most beloved singers of all time.
Francisco Alves, known as the “King of Voice,” counts among Brazil’s most beloved singers of all time.

As Jairo Severiano points out in A Canção no Tempo, “Everything that Herivelto Martins composed in the 1940s was immediately recorded and almost always became a hit.” In the case of “Que Rei Sou Eu”, these promising odds for success became even greater when Francisco Alves recorded the song. Alves was one of the “Big Four” singers of Brazil’s Golden Age of Radio, and still counts among Brazil’s most popular vocalists of all time; he showed a preference for compositions by Herivelto Martins (along with Lupicínio Rodrigues).

When the song was released, listeners speculated that the lyrics were meant to satirize the dethroned king of Romania, Carol II. Carol II was in exile in Portugal and visited Brazil with his mistress, Magda Lupescu, whom he married in Rio de Janeiro in 1947.  Herivelto Martins said that was hogwash – he just wanted a song that would be a Carnival hit and make him some money.  

The lyrics — especially the end, “What sort of king am I? A phony king?” — can perhaps more appropriately be interpreted as a malandro sambista taking stock, second guessing his reign on the morro, or in his district.  

01 capa heriveltoHerivelto Martins (January 30, 1912 – September 17, 1992) was born into a humble family in the interior of Rio de Janeiro state, and moved to the capital at age 18 to try to make it in the music business.  The composer Príncipe Pretinho helped Martins by bringing him to J.B. Carvalho‘s recording ensemble, Conjunto Tupi.  Martins released about fifteen songs before he had his first successes,”Um caboclo apaixonado” (1936) and “Acorda, escola de samba” (1937), both recorded by Silvio Caldas, another of the Big Four singers. From 1937 – 1941 Martins dedicated himself more to the Trio de Ouro, and didn’t have big hits. But he made up for that between 1942 and 1949, when he released a series of successes that secured his reputation as one of Brazil’s greatest tragic-romantic composers.

Among the most popular of these hits by Herivelto Martins are “Praça Onze” (1942, with Grande Otelo), “Ave Maria no Morro” (1942),  “Isaura” (1945) and “Palhaço” (1947, with Benedito Lacerda).

Francisco Alves recorded more 78 rpm records than any other Brazilian singer. He died at age 54, in a head-on collision with a truck that crossed into his lane on the highway as he was driving home to Rio from São Paulo on September 27, 1952.

Lyrics in Portuguese

Que rei sou eu
Sem reinado e sem coroa
Sem castelo e sem rainha
Afinal que rei sou eu?

O meu reinado
É pequeno e é restrito
Só mando no meu distrito
Por que o rei de lá morreu

Não tenho criado de libré
Carruagem sem mordomo
E ninguém beija meus pés!

Meu sangue azul
Nada tem de realeza
O samba é minha nobreza
Afinal que rei sou eu?

Que rei sou eu
Um falso rei?

Main sources for this post: A Canção no Tempo: 85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras, vol.1, by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello, and Uma história da música popular brasileira: das origens à modernidade, by Jairo Severiano.