“Além da Razão”

“Além da razão” by Luiz Carlos da Vila, Sombra & Sombrinha (1988)


Por te amar eu pintei //For loving you, I painted
Um azul pro céu se admirar// A blue for the sky to bask in
Até o mar adocei // I even turned the sea sweet
e das pedras leite eu fiz brotar // And made milk spring from stones
De um vulgar fiz um rei // Of a popper, I made a king
e do nada um império pra te dar // And of nothing, an empire to give to you
E a cantar eu direi o que eu acho então o que é amar // And singing, I’ll explain what I believe is to love
É uma fonte lá pro longe do horizonte // It’s a fountain way off beyond the horizon
Jardim sem espinho // A garden with no thorns
Vinho que vai bem em qualquer canção // Pine (guitar) that goes well in any song
Roupa de vestir em qualquer estação // Clothes to wear in any season
É uma dança, paz de criança que só se alcança // It’s a dance, the peace of a child
Que só se alcança se houver carinho // That can only be achieved if there’s tenderness
É estar além da simples razão // It’s beyond simple reason
Basta não mentir pro seu coração // It’s enough not to lie to your heart
Laia laialá…

– Commentary –

Luiz Carlos da Vila

I love the exercise of discovering in a melody what the author of that melody was saying. So for example take a tune by Moacyr Luz, Arlindo [Cruz], Sombrinha, Sombra, Wilson das Neves – all tremendous composers – and I think that when they whistle or hum that tune, there’s a great story hidden inside there. – Luiz Carlos da Vila

Luiz Carlos da Vila would be turning 66 today — July 21, 2015. He was one of the most fundamental figures of the younger generation of sambistas who congregated at Cacique de Ramos and formed the tremendously influential group Fundo de Quintal at the end of the 1970s, and of them, he’s my favorite. He exuded peace and tenderness in his lyrics and performances, even nearly seven years after his death, Luiz Carlos da Vila remains a constant presence in most rodas de samba in Rio de Janeiro. Old friends and fans sing his songs impassionedly, and he is still constantly cited as an inspiration by his contemporaries and the generation of samba composers that came after him.

Luiz Carlos da Vila performing with Moacyr Luz.
Luiz Carlos da Vila performing with Moacyr Luz.
luiz carlos da vila 005
Luiz Carlos da Vila performing.

Luiz Carlos da Vila was born Luiz Carlos Batista in the Ramos neighborhood (of Cacique de Ramos fame) of Rio de Janeiro. He recalled that his grandmother was quite the merrymaker in the neighborhood and took advantage of any excuse possible to have a party. His aunt played accordions at these parties, and he picked up the accordion quickly when he was around ten years old.

By a few years later he’d learned guitar. His father kept a job in air transport but was a sambista in his free time, and wanted Luiz Carlos to follow a more straight-edge path, but that didn’t work out.

Luiz Carlos earned the nickname “da Vila” when he moved to Vila da Penha, Rio de Janeiro; later he went on to live in Vila Kennedy and Vila Isabel, and Nei Lops promoted him to Luiz Carlos “das Vilas.”

Dom Pandeiro & Luiz Carlos da Vila
Dom Pandeiro & Luiz Carlos da Vila

In spite of his deep affection for Império Serrano, which he never missed a chance to declare, Luiz Carlos da Vila became a composer for Unidos da Vila Isabel, and composed two winning samba-enredos for the school, including the widely celebrated samba “Kizomba, Festa da Raça,” which brought Vila Isabel its first Carnival victory in 1988. The Carnival theme that year was the 100-year anniversary of the abolition of slavery.

 

Wilson Moreira, Aldir Blanc, Luiz Carlos da Vila and Moacyr Luz celebrating the completion of
Wilson Moreira, Aldir Blanc, Luiz Carlos da Vila and Moacyr Luz celebrating the completion of “Cabô meu pai” (Luiz Carlos da Vila, Aldir Blanc & Moacyr Luz).

Luiz Carlos da Vila died on October 20, 2008. He had checked into the hospital the month before for a hernia operation but suffered complications from recurring stomach cancer. He was 59.

The day that he died, Nei Lopes wrote, “We’ve lost a poet of the finest cloth, a great among the greatest. We’ve lost a human being who was gigantic, in spite of his material fragility. We’ve lost a musician who was complete, even though he had little instruction in the rules of his art. We’ve lost a sambista of the absolute highest level.”

Rara

Lyrics from “Rara” by Luiz Carlos da Vila and Nelson Sargento (on Benza, Deus2004)

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Lara, o seu laraiá é lindo // Lara, your lara-iá is beautiful
Rara ao bailar sorrindo // Exquisite, dancing with a smile
são canções de quem tanto, tantos // They’re the songs of she who so many
corações retém com o seu canto. //hearts keeps so close with her song.
Baila e baila o ar // [She/ it] dances, and the air begins to dance
que ouvindo, vai lá, vem cá // and listening, goes hither and thither
e o mar ao ouvir // and the sea, upon hearing
traz o luar mais pra si // draws the moonlight closer in
faz o jardim beija-flor // makes the hummingbird garden
e o sol se põe a aplaudir // and the sun sets to applauding
o samba que a terra criou // the samba that the earth created
em Lara a mais clara versão do amor // in Lara, the most luminous version of love.

— Commentary —

Walter Alfaiate, Dona Ivone Lara, Moacyr Luz, Beth Carvalho, Luiz Carlos da Vila and João Nogueira on the cover of their 1999 album "Esquina Carioca."
Walter Alfaiate, Dona Ivone Lara, Moacyr Luz, Beth Carvalho, Luiz Carlos da Vila and João Nogueira on the cover of their 1999 album “Esquina Carioca.”
Nelson Sargento, grande Mangueirense and Vascaino, composed the melody for this samba.
Nelson Sargento, grande Mangueirense and Vascaino, composed the melody for this samba.

Since today, April 13, 2015, is Dona Ivone Lara’s 94th birthday, I wanted to post the song that I think is the most beautiful tribute to her, by her friends and fellow sambistas Nelson Sargento (b. July 25, 1924) and the late, deeply cherished Luiz Carlos da Vila (July 21, 1949 – October 20, 2008). Sargento composed the melody and Luiz Carlos da Vila wrote the lyrics, which reveal his singular knack for beautifully humanizing elements of nature in his sambas. My impression is that lara-iá is just a mixture of Lara’s name and the common samba chorus “lá-iá-iá.” The line that says “[she/it] dances” is because it could be referring to Lara herself, but seems to be referring to her song — either way, essentially the same message.

L-R: Wilson Moreira, Aldir Blanc, Luiz Carlos da Vila and Moacyr Luz, celebrating their new samba "Cabô meu pai."
L-R: Wilson Moreira, Aldir Blanc, Luiz Carlos da Vila and Moacyr Luz, celebrating their new samba “Cabô meu pai.”

Dona Ivone Lara is one of Rio de Janeiro’s most revered female samba singers and composers — the most venerated still alive today. She’s been a member of Império Serrano samba school since its founding in 1947, and prior to that, was part of the school Império Serrano broke off from, Prazer da Serrinha. She composed some of the genre’s all-time greatest successes, such as “Acreditar” (1976, with Délcio Carvalho, released initially by fellow imperiano Roberto Ribeiro); “Alguém me avisou” (1980); “Sorriso Negro” (1981); “Enredo do meu samba” (1981, with Jorge Aragão); “Mas quem disse que te esqueço” (1981, with Hermínio Bello de Carvalho); “Sonho Meu” (1978, with Délcio Carvalho); and the samba-enredo “Os Cinco Bailes da História do Rio” (1965, with Silas de Oliveira — the unrivaled master of samba-enredo –for Império Serrano). Here are images from the 1965 Carnaval parade:

Since Carnaval 1965, Lara has been erroneously credited with being the first female composer to have one of her compositions played on the avenue during Carnaval. That particular honor actually goes to Carmelita Brasil, founder, president and composer for Unidos da Ponte, which paraded to her samba in 1958. In the 1930s, Amélia Pires was already composing for the samba school Unidos da Tijuca, although there’s no record of her having composed a samba-enredo for the school.

But that’s not to diminish the importance of her treasured samba compositions, her moving performances and her powerful presence in the male-dominated samba world since the 1960s. Parabéns pra Dona Ivone Lara!

Dona Ivone Lara on the cavaquinho.
Dona Ivone Lara on the cavaquinho.
Lara_Carnaval 1985
Dona Ivone Lara in Carnaval 1985.