Saci

Lyrics from “Saci” by Guinga and Paulo César Pinheiro (1993)

Quem vem vindo ali // Who’s on his way here
É um preto retinto e anda nu // Is a jet-black boy, and he’s naked
Boné cobrindo o pixaim // Cap covering his ‘fro
E pitando um cachimbo de bambu // And puffing on a bamboo pipe

Vem me acudir // He’s coming to see me
Acho que ouvi seu assovio // I think I heard his whistle
Fiquei até com cabelo em pé // My hairs even stood on end
Me deu arrepio, frio // I got the goosebumps, chills

Quem vem vindo ali // Who’s on his way here
Tá capengando numa perna só // Is hobbling on just one leg
Só pode ser coisa ruim // This can’t be good
Como bem dizia minha vó // Just like my grandma used to say

Diz que ele vem // They say he’s coming
Montado num roda-moinho // Riding a whirlwind
Já sei quem é, já vi seu boné // I know who it is, I’ve caught a glimpse of his cap
Surgir no caminho // On the way

Quando ele vê que eu´me benzi // When he sees that I’ve crossed myself
E que eu me arredo, cruz credo // And that I’m moving away, goodness be
Solta uma gargalhada // He’ll let out a cackle
Some na estrada // Vanish down the road
É o Saci // It’s Saci

— Commentary —

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Saci in Tico-Tico, 24 June 1931

Dear Readers: Ever since I started a PhD program (in Brazilian history!), I’ve barely had time to post. But I’m going to keep trying! Please send requests. I wanted to do a quick post in honor of “Dia do Saci,” and it’s hard to go wrong with a song by Guinga and Paulo César Pinheiro.

Dia do Saci: Halloween keeps getting bigger in Brazil. But since 2003, October 31 has officially been “Dia do Saci,” in honor of the little one-legged rascal from Brazilian folklore. He emerged from Tupi-Guarani folklore in the south of Brazil, and was incorporated into slave fables. Saci is never without his magic red sock hat and pipe, and can’t stop getting into mischief. Legend has it that he lives in whirlwinds and can be caught with a net; upon capture, his hat must be removed to ensure his obedience. Sacis are born in bamboo shoots, where they live for seven years before emerging to wreak playful havoc for the next seventy-seven years. When they die, they turn into mushrooms.

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“Halloween? I want nothing to do with it!” — “Today’s our day! Hey Hey Hey!”

Saci Day was declared in Brazil’s Federal Law 2.762, in 2003. It was part of a bill presented by Rio de Janeiro’s deputy Chico Alencar (PSOL) in an effort to celebrate Brazilian folklore rather than traditions imported from abroad – in this case, the celtic celebration of Halloween, imported from the United States.

Three years ago for this occasion I posted “Sasaci-Pererê” (Jorge Ben).

There is some debate in Brazil regarding racial stereotypes in depictions of Saci, particularly regarding those of the tremendously popular children’s author Monteiro Lobato.

Here’s Monica Salmaso’s beautiful version of the song:

A paixão e a jura

Lyrics from “A paixão e a jura” by Paulo César Pinheiro and Mauro Duarte (1981)

Eu ando sofrendo tanto // I’ve been suffering so much
Quando essa paixão me invade // As this passion overcomes me
e às vezes me pego em prantos // And sometimes catch myself in tears
com receio de ferir outra amizade// Afraid of wounding another friendship
você me procura (você me procura) // You come after me (you come after me)
eu não sei negar amor nem resistir // And I’m unable to turn down love, or resist
mas fiz uma jura // But I made a vow
e essa jura é tão difícil de cumprir // And that vow is so hard to keep
Eu tenho pensado nisso // I’ve been thinking it over
Mas não sei na realidade // But the truth is I don’t know
Se desfaço compromisso// If I should break my commitment
Ou se evito um grande amor contra vontade // Or shun a great love, against my will
Isso é uma tortura (isso é uma tortura) // This is torture (this is torture)
Eu bem sei ninguém por mim vai decidir // And I know well that no one will decide for me
A paixão e a jura vão fazendo um coração se dividir // Passion and vow, splitting a heart in two

Talvez tudo isso seja breve // Maybe all of this will be short-lived
Talvez eu volte ao meu caminho // Maybe I’ll get back on my course
Talvez essa paixão me leve // Maybe this passion will carry me away
Talvez eu venha terminar sozinho //Maybe I’ll end up alone

— Commentary —

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Paulo César Pinheiro (standing) with Mauro Duarte

Together, Paulo César Pinheiro and Mauro Duarte composed some of Brazil’s most beautiful and most melancholy sambas. They were close friends, and Mauro Duarte introduced Paulo César Pinheiro to Clara Nunes around 1974, the same year Nunes recorded Mauro Duarte’s first hit, “Menino Deus,” composed with Paulo César Pinheiro. Pinheiro and Nunes married about a year later, and Clara Nunes went on to release several more of Pinheiro and Duarte’s best-loved songs, including “Canto das três raças” and “Portela na avenida.”

Mauro Duarte also composed “Um ser de luz” with Paulo César Pinheiro after Clara’s tragic sudden death on April 2, 1983, at age 40.

Roberto Ribeiro was the first to release “A paixão e a jura” on his 1981 album Massa, Raça e Emoção.

For more on Pinheiro and Duarte’s friendship and musical partnership, see this post.

 

“Pelas ruas da cidade” & “Reserva de domínio”

“Pelas ruas da cidade” – Paulo César Pinheiro (1980)


Ando pelas ruas da cidade // I stroll down the city streets
Meio abandonado de carinho// Rather forsaken of love
Como a lamentar a mocidade// As if lamenting the youth
Que desperdicei pelo caminho// That I wasted along the way
Ando pelas ruas da cidade// I stroll down the city streets
Só, mas livre como um passarinho//Alone, but free as a bird
Tenho no meu peito uma saudade que me dói// I carry in my breast a saudade that hurts
Mas prefiro viver sozinho// But I prefer to live alone
Inda relembro as minhas horas de felicidade// I still remember my moments of happiness
E como joguei tudo fora sem necessidade// And how I threw it all away for nothing
Mas nada do que eu fiz na vida// But nothing that I did in life
Foi contra a vontade// Was against my will
Duro é ter nos ombros// It’s hard to bear on your shoulders
O peso da idade// The weight of age
Nem feliz nem triste// Neither happy nor sad
Só sem novidade// Merely with nothing new to tell
Ando pelas ruas da cidade// I stroll down the city streets


Reserva de Domínio” – Mauro Duarte & Paulo César Pinheiro (1985)


Um coração tão machucado como o meu// A heart as hurt as mine
Não tem mais força pra aguentar uma outra dor // No longer has the strength to stand a new wound
já está cansado de aventuras // it’s tired of wild affairs
foram tantas amarguras // there’ve been so many bitter stories
tá difícil de encarar um novo amor // it’s hard to face a new love
Mas sei que muitas insistências vão surgir // But I know that many demands will emerge
Com a carência que hoje existe por aí // With the loneliness that’s around today
Pois a alma aflita pelo tédio // Because the soul afflicted with tedium
Mediante a tanto assédio // Under such assail
Se também se descuidar vai sucumbir // Must take care, or it will succumb as well
Mas tem que suportar// But one needs to just bear it
sem se preocupar // Without paying any mind
Com as palavras atiradas pelo chão // to the words tossed on the ground
Com promessas pertubando o coração // to promises disquieting the heart
São juras e mais juras desvairadas // There are vows, and more frantic vows
Que eu presumo aparecer// That I suspect will surface
Mas pra não sofrer // But so as not to suffer
Tenho que me armar // I need to arm myself
Pro domínio não perder // So as not to lose control
Sei que água mole em pedra dura // I know that soft water on hard rock
Tanto bate até que fura // Beats until it bores through
É o que não pode acontecer //And that’s just what can’t happen

— Commentary-

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Mauro Duarte and Paulo César Pinheiro’s friendship and musical partnership brought about some of the most beautiful MPB songs. Mauro also introduced Paulinho Pinheiro to Clara Nunes, his wife and muse until her untimely death in 1983.

Paulo César Pinheiro is best known for his ingenious lyrics for songs written with brilliant composers like Baden Powell, Mauro Duarte, Mauricio Tapajós, Eduardo Gudin, Guinga, João Nogueira, and many more of the most renowned names in Brazilian popular music of the past fifty years.

But he recalls that his partner Mauro Duarte observed that he often revised the melodies he was working with, either working on them with his partners or tweaking and adding to them after he’d received them.

One day as Paulinho and Mauro worked on a song together, Mauro remarked, “You’re doing just about everything alone, why don’t you start composing songs on your own, without a partner? You know how to do it, chefia.”  

Mauro’s suggestion rattled around in Paulinho’s head until one day, as he rambled down the beach in Leblon, he began whistling a tune, recalling and mimicking phrases he’d heard Copinha play on the flute. He quickly ended up with a beautiful tune for a samba, and says by the time he got home, he had the whole song written in his head, and ran to record it. That was the first of over 150 songs Paulo César Pinheiro went on to compose on his own, a beautiful response to the coaxing of his close friend and partner Mauro Duarte.

In turn, a few years later, Pinheiro came up with a tune that everyone loved but that he just couldn’t find words for. No theme came to him; it was as if he had a block with that specific melody. Mauro would sing the tune back to Paulinho when they met up, and ask him eagerly about how the lyrics were coming along. So Paulinho decided to challenge Mauro the same way Mauro had challenged him: “Why don’t you write the lyrics? If you like this samba so much, and are in such a hurry, take a pen to it.”

Mauro accepted the challenge. A little over a week later he brought the song back to Paulinho, bashfully apologizing for the lyrics before he sang them, saying he wasn’t sure if they’d turned out ok. Paulinho grew nervous: he didn’t want to hurt his friend’s feelings.

But as Mauro sang, Paulinho recalls, “He gave me goosebumps. He’d gotten it so perfectly right. The lyrics were beautiful. I was surprised and content, and he even more so. And that’s how, for the first time, on a melody of mine, the lyrics were written by someone else.”

Source for this post: Paulo César Pinheiro: Histórias das Minhas Canções