Homenagem ao Malandro & Homenagem à Velha Guarda

Lyrics from “Homenagem ao Malandro” by Chico Buarque (1978)

I went to write a samba in honor of the cream of the malandragem
That I know from Carnivals of years gone by
I went to Lapa and the trip was wasted
‘Cause that kind of malandragem doesn’t exist anymore

Now it’s just not normal
The amount of orderly, professional malandros around
Malandro with the trappings of an official malandro
Malandro with a profile in the Society column
Malandro with a contract, a tie,  and capital
Who never gets into trouble

But the malandro that counts — don’t spread it — retired his razor
Has a wife and kid and the whole kit and bit
Word on the street is that he even has work
He lives far away, and rattles in on a train on the Central Line

Now it’s just not normal
The amount of orderly, professional malandros around
Malandro with the trappings of an official malandro
Malandro candidate for Federal Malandro
Malandro with a profile in the Society column
Malandro with a contract, a tie and capital
Who never gets into trouble

Lyrics from “Homenagem à Velha Guarda” by Monarco (1980)

One day, you went to Lapa to see the malandragem
You wasted your time and the trip, as your samba explains
I went to Portela to see my sambistas
But consulting my list, I, too, wasn’t pleased!
There, I was told of a terreiro where they spend the entire day
In some nondescript nook in Oswaldo Cruz
It’s out there near Bento Ribeiro
Where Paulo and his consort made sambas that still seduce to this day
Looking around the locale, I found Mano Alvaiade
Our old harmony director, who gave me a valuable tip:
It’s a beautiful home, that brings together peace, love, and joy
There I saw the true sambistas
Manacéia and Lonato, and others too!
I swear my jaw dropped, I’d never felt so close
To the Portela of days of yore.

— Interpretation —

Scene from Ópera do Malandro. Pictured (L-R): Elba Ramalho, Tony Ferreira, Ari Fontoura, Marieta Severo, Otávio Augusto, and Maria Alice Vergueiro.
Scene from Ópera do Malandro. Pictured (L-R): Elba Ramalho, Tony Ferreira, Ari Fontoura, Marieta Severo, Otávio Augusto, and Maria Alice Vergueiro.

In 1978, Chico Buarque’s musical play Ópera do Malandro opened in Rio de Janeiro to rave reviews from critics and crowds. Set in Lapa in the early 1940s, the musical portrays a seedy, sensual, samba-suffused side of Rio’s bohemian redoubt that was at its height in the 1920s-40s and had died out, as Chico describes here, by the 1970s: “Lapa, brothels, loan sharks, smugglers, corrupt police, unscrupulous businessmen. (…) When this side of Lapa began to die, it was a harbinger of other deaths: malandragem [for a description of malandros and malandragem, the shady life on the edge of the law that has become an iconic part of Rio de Janeiro’s identity, see this post], Madame Satã [legendary drag queen and capoeirista], Geraldo Pereira, Wilson Batista [sambistas who most represent the samba malandro sub-genre]; it was the end of the golden age of Rio’s urban samba.”

The song “Homenagem ao Malandro” is a nostalgic nod to old-time Lapa malandros, poking fun at the “orderly, professional” malandros that had come to replace the real thing.

Album cover for the 1979 soundtrack to Ópera do Malandro.
Album cover for the 1979 soundtrack to Ópera do Malandro.

The musical was based on the satirical Beggar’s Opera (1728, John Gay) and the Three Penny Opera (1928, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill), another adaptation of Gay’s Beggar’s Opera.  Chico composed fourteen new songs for the musical and the soundtrack was released the following year. A film adaptation was also released in 1986. The musical revealed a star, Elba Ramalho, and showcased Chico’s then-wife Marieta‘s singing talent.

Legendary Portela sambista Monarco, now 81.
Legendary Portela sambista Monarco, now 81.

Alongside “Geni e o Zepelim” and “O Meu Amor,” “Homenagem ao Malandro” was one of the most beautiful and beloved songs from the musical, and the lyrics struck a chord with the composer Monarco (Hildemar Diniz, b. August 17, 1932 in Cavalcante, Rio de Janeiro, RJ). Monarco is among the most celebrated velha guarda (“old guard”) sambistas from the Portela samba school still around today. He arrived at Portela in 1946, when he was 14 years old (he laments that he missed Paulo da Portela at the school by just a few years). As Carnival became more and more of a lucrative business in the 1960s and ’70s, old-school sambistas like Monarco felt shoved aside, as  head honchos at the samba schools brought in radio stars to compose and take the spotlight and rake in returns. Around this time many sambistas separated from their schools: In the mid-1970s, for instance, Paulinho da Viola and Candeia left Portela. (Paulinho would return later on, and never joined another school, as Portelenses like Monarco enjoy pointing out; Candeia founded Quilombo, his school until his death in 1978.)

Monarco, second from left, and Zeca Pagodinho, center, with Velha Guarda da Portela, c. late 80s. In 1987, Zeca Pagodinho released his first album, with Monarco's song "Coração em desalinho," a huge hit.
Monarco, second from left, and Zeca Pagodinho, center, with Velha Guarda da Portela, c. late 80s. In 1986, Zeca Pagodinho released his first album, with Monarco’s song “Coração em desalinho,” a huge hit.
Paulinho da Viola with Clara Nunes, Pagode da Tia Doca
Paulinho da Viola and Clara Nunes pictured at Pagode da Tia Doca, in Tia Doca’s yard.

Monarco recalls that one Sunday he went to Portela and found none of his old composer companions there — only newfangled radio composers. So he wrote this samba that responds to Chico’s song about Lapa, remarking that the samba schools suffered the same phenomenon.  He refers to celebrated old guard sambistas, and the house he mentions — that unites “peace, love, and harmony” — was Tia Doca’s. Tia Doca became a mainstay at Portela samba school in the 1950s after she married the composer Altaír Costa, son of Alvarenga, a founding member of Portela samba school.  She became part of the Velha Guarda in 1970, and during these rough years for the school, she began hosting the famous “pagode da Tia Doca” on Sundays at her home in Oswaldo Cruz. Several star sambistas — including Zeca Pagodinho, Dudu Nobre, and Jovelina Perola Negra — got their start there.

Monarco says Chico Buarque loved the song; he remembers Chico commenting that he thought the line “consulting my list…” was just great!

Monarco's "Portela of days of yore": Pictured, Lonato (standing with Pandeiro), Monarco (crouching), Casquinha, Manaceia, Alcides Malandro,and others.
Monarco’s “Portela of days of yore”: Pictured, Lonato (standing with what looks like a tamborím), Monarco (crouching), Casquinha, Manaceia, Alcides Malandro, and others.

Lyrics in Portuguese: “Homenagem ao Malandro”

Eu fui fazer um samba em homenagem
À nata da malandragem
Que conheço de outros carnavais
Eu fui à Lapa e perdi a viagem
Que aquela tal malandragem
Não existe mais

Agora já não é normal
O que dá de malandro regular, profissional
Malandro com aparato de malandro oficial
Malandro candidato a malandro federal
Malandro com retrato na coluna social
Malandro com contrato, com gravata e capital
Que nunca se dá mal

Mas o malandro pra valer
– Não espalha
Aposentou a navalha
Tem mulher e filho e tralha e tal
Dizem as más línguas que ele até trabalha
Mora lá longe e chacoalha
Num trem da Central

Agora já não é normal
O que dá de malandro regular, profissional
Malandro com aparato de malandro oficial
Malandro candidato a malandro federal
Malandro com retrato na coluna social
Malandro com contrato, com gravata e capital
Que nunca se dá mal

Mas o malandro pra valer
– Não espalha
Aposentou a navalha
Tem mulher e filho e tralha e tal
Dizem as más línguas que ele até trabalha
Mora lá longe e chacoalha
Num trem da Central

“Homenagem à Velha Guarda”
Um dia, tu fostes à Lapa ver a malandragem
Perdeste o tempo e a viagem
Como teu samba diz
Eu fui à Portela ver os meus sambistas
Mas consultando a minha lista
Também não fui feliz

Lá falaram-me sobre um terreiro
Onde eles passam o dia inteiro
Num lugar qualquer de Oswaldo Cruz
Fica lá perto de Bento Ribeiro
Aonde Paulo e seus companheiros
Faziam sambas que até hoje seduz

Procurando na localidade
Encontrei mano Alvaiade
Nosso antigo diretor de harmonia
Deu-me a sua dica valiosa
É uma casa formosa
Que reúne paz, amor e alegria

Daí, vi os sambistas de fato
Manacéia e Lonato e outros mais
Juro que fiquei boquiaberto
Nunca me senti tão perto
Da Portela dos tempos atrás

Main sources for this post:  Stories told by Monarco and A Canção no Tempo: Vol. 2, by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello, and Batuque na cozinha: as receitas e as histórias das tias da Portela, by Alexandre Medeiros

“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.