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
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
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

Panis et Circenses

Lyrics from “Panis et Circenses” (Bread and Circus) by  Gilberto Gil & Caetano Veloso with Os Mutantes; arrangement and sound by Rogério Duprat

Album:  Tropicalia: ou Panis et Circensis (1968) & Os Mutantes (1968)

I wanted to sing my song, illuminated by the sun

I unfurled the sails on the masts in the air

I set free the tigers and the lions in backyards

But the people in the dining room

Are busy being born and dying

I ordered that a knife be made, of pure shiny steel

To kill my love, and I killed…

At 5 o’clock, on the Central Avenue

But the people in the dining room

Are busy being born and dying

I ordered planted

Leaves of dreams in the garden

The leaves know how to seek the sun

And the roots, to seek, to seek

But the people in the dining room

Those people in the dining room

They’re the people in the dining room

But the people in the dining room

Are busy being born and dying

— Interpretation —

The album cover from the 1968 collaboration album “Tropicalia or Panis et Circensis” is a parody of a bourgeois family photo. The photo illustrates the theme of the album’s title track, which satirizes bourgeois family life.

The title “Bread and Circuses” is an allusion to the classical poet Juvenal, author of the Satireswho scorned ancient Romans for their easy and predictable manipulation through bread and circus — or the diversion of food and games.  The song, in turn, is a satire of bourgeois conventions. In the lyrics, a first-person poetic voice tries desperately to alarm the family, to snap them out of their mental and physical stagnation; the attempt is futile.  During these early years of military rule in Brazil, when economic liberalization brought quick financial boons to the complaisant and complicit upper middle class, expressions of rejection of these mores were frequent in Brazilian music. (Ouro de Tolo carried quite a similar message, as did Chico Buarque’s Valsinha).

Brazil’s armed forces seized power in 1964 and, adopting the mantra “Brazil: Love it or leave it,” imposed an overbearing nationalism on all aspects of civil and cultural life in the country, including popular music.  Still, up until 1969 and Institutional Act V (AI-5), the government tolerated a leftist subculture.  The left,  in response to the military’s nationalism, embraced popular music as a tool for resistance, promoting its own radically nationalistic music, but in the name of anti-imperialism rather than social control.

At the time, urban popular music was roughly divided into two camps: the first, that of Música Popular Brasileira (MPB), an eclectic and ever-evolving style whose affiliates – including icons like Edu Lobo and Elis Regina –   defended ‘authenticity’ and purity in Brazilian music; and the second, the international rock movement called the Jovem Guarda (Young Guard), whom the MPB camp felt was politically and culturally “alienated” (while MPB was culturally “engaged”).

But in 1967, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil – and their friends, including Os Mutantes – brought an end to this dichotomy when they took the stage at the immensely popular Third Festival of Brazilian Popular Music. They stunned the crowd (including almost any Brazilian with access to a television) and their critics with their innovative style, fusing international and local musical forms. The movement, which quickly became known as Tropicalismo, used foreign sounds and instruments along with typical Brazilian ones to make uniquely Brazilian music, while lyrically satirizing the extremes on both ends of the musical debate.

The rock group Os Mutantes was fundamental to the Tropicália movement: Os Mutantes represented the São Paulo contingent, while artists like Gil, Veloso, Tom Zé, Gal Costa and Maria Bethânia made up the Bahian contingent. The two groups met in São Paulo in 1967, through mutual friend and poet Augusto dos Campos.  Brothers Arnoldo Baptista and Sérgio Dias Baptista had formed Os Mutantes in 1966, with Brazilian rock icon Rita Lee as the lead vocalist.  In 1968 the collective released the collaborative album Tropicalia: Ou Panis et Circensis, which was hailed as the Brazilian response to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

By 1969, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso were forced into exile by the military government.

Post by Victoria Broadus (About)