Quero voltar pra Bahia (I want to go back to Bahia)

Lyrics from “Quero Voltar Pra Bahia (I Want To Go Back To Bahia)” by Paulo Diniz/Odibar (1970)

I don’t want to stay here
I wanna to go back to Bahia

Eu tenho andado tão só // I’ve been so alone lately
Quem me olha nem me vê // People look at me and don’t even see me
Silêncio em meu violão // My guitar’s fallen silent
Nem eu mesmo sei por qu. // And I don’t even know why
De repente ficou frio // It suddenly grew cold
Eu não vim aqui para ser feliz // I didn’t come here to be happy
Cadê o meu sol dourado? // Where’s my golden sun?
Cadê as coisas do meu país? // Where are the things from my country?

I don’t want to stay here
I wanna to go back to Bahia.

Eu tenho andado tão só // I’ve been so alone lately
Quem me olha nem me vê// People look at me and don’t even see me
Silêncio em meu violão // My guitar’s fallen silent
Nem eu mesmo sei por que // And I don’t even know why
Via Intelsat eu mando // Via Intelsat, I send
Notícias minhas para “O Pasquim” // News of myself to “O Pasquim”
Beijos pra minha amada // Kisses to my love
Que tem saudades e pensa em mim // Who misses me and pines over me

I don’t want to stay here
I wanna to go back to Bahia.

— Commentary —

1970-paulo-diniz_quero-voltar-para-bahia

This 1970 soul sensation was inspired by Caetano Veloso, who was depressed in exile in London at the time. Legions of fans embraced it as an anthem pleading for Caetano’s return to Brazil.

seja-marginal
Caetano and Gil displayed the image 

As the song exploded, Brazil was living through the direct aftermath of decree Ato Institucional V (AI-5), issued on 13 December 1968, which shut down the national Congress, abolished habeas corpus, and essentially opened the path for Brazil’s military regime to expand its systematic repression, censorship, and persecution of anyone perceived as a leftist sympathizer or societal provocateur. That same month, Caetano and Gil were arrested, ostensibly for having featured tropicalist artist Helio Oiticica’s image of a marginal — representing 23-year-old Cara de Cavaloshot dead two months earlier by a Rio police death squad — with the caption “Be an outlaw, be a hero!” in a December 1968 show in Rio de Janeiro.

caetano_londres
Caetano in London, c. 1970.

The two were thrown in jail for two months, placed on house arrest for four more, and then forced into exile in 1969.  Caetano missed Brazil tremendously; he has called his 1971 album recorded in London “a document of depression.” (For more on this period, see “Back in Bahia” [Gilberto Gil, 1972]; “Panis et Circenses” [1968] and “Expresso 2222” [Gilberto Gil, 1972].)

As Brazil plunged into the AI-5-era known as the anos de chumbo (years of lead), Paulo Diniz released this song, infused with his strong northeastern accent and Caribbean sounds, providing a perfect example of the new twists that Brazilians brought to soul music, inspired by 60’s R&B, Motown and James Brown’s funk.

Pasquim, mentioned in the song, was a leftist magazine with a weekly circulation of about 200,000, established in 1969 as an outlet of resistance against the military dictatorship.

Main source for this post: Vale Tudo: Tim Maia, by Nelson Motta

Sangue Latino

Lyrics to “Sangue Latino” by Secos & Molhados, 1973 (lyrics by João Ricardo and Paulinho Mendonça)

I swore by lies and I go on alone
I acknowledge my sins
The northern winds don’t move mills
And all I have left is just a whimper
My life, my dead, my twisted paths
My latin blood, my captive soul
I breached treaties, I betrayed rites
I broke the lance, I lanced into the nothingness a cry – a release
And what matters to me is that I’m not defeated
My life, my dead, my twisted paths
My latin blood, my captive soul

— Interpretation —

Folha de São Paulo called the cover of Secos e Molhados' 1973 debut album the "best Brazilian long play album cover of all time"
Folha de São Paulo called the cover of Secos & Molhados’ 1973 debut album the “best Brazilian long play album cover of all time.”

Secos & Molhados appeared on Brazil’s music scene at the height of the country’s military dictatorship, four years into the so-called “years of lead” (anos de chumbo) following the decree of Institutional Act V in December 1968. Censorship and repression were at their height. The unruly trio — João Ricardo, Gerson Conrad, and lead singer Ney de Souza Pereira (known as Ney Matogrosso because of his home state, Mato Grosso do Sul) — fused Brazilian regional sounds with international pop-rock influences, especially from the glam rock genre that was reaching its apex in the United Kingdom at the time. Similar to glam rockers David Bowie and Marc Bolan in the U.K., band members – especially Matogrosso, with his high-pitched womanly voice – played up androgyny. They wore theatrical, often campy, outfits with heavy make-up, and danced provocatively on stage, defying accepted standards of performance, gender and sexuality. (Rumors abound in Brazil that the American band Kiss, formed in January 1973, began using make-up after seeing Secos & Molhados; Kiss band members have always denied this, however, and appear to be telling the truth.)

Secos e Molhados, with Ney Mattogrosso in the middle.
Secos e Molhados, with Ney Matogrosso in the middle.

Secos & Molhados emerged in São Paulo about five years after the tropicalia movement had shocked and delighted the country in 1967 and 1968. In a way, tropicalia – with its controversial “universal sound” and Caetano Veloso‘s defiant flamboyance – set the stage for the band.

In the late 1960s, international cultural elements like rock and roll were still regarded as symbols of northern imperialism in many circles in Brazil.  The renowned music critic José Ramos Tinhorão notoriously likened tropicalia’s cultural project to the military dictatorship’s economic and technical projects.  (In 1967, after being booed and berated for using back-up electric guitars in “Domingo no Parque,” Gilberto Gil said he felt as if he was on trial for betraying Brazilian popular music, and that according to this logic, Brazilians should only be using indigenous instruments.)

But tropicalist musicians, led by Veloso and Gil, rejected this polarized view. They challenged prejudices against international cultural influences, and incited Brazilians to defy authority in new ways, cultivating a counter-culture that went beyond political opposition to the military dictatorship and rebelled against broader understandings of music, society and nationalism, psychology, the body and sexuality. What were once “outcast” qualities became cool, and were considered forms of rejecting authoritarian attempts to mold and manipulate the mass media and society.

Ney Matogrosso at age 70. The singer asks photographers not to retouch any photos of him, claiming his "right to age."
Ney Matogrosso at age 70. The singer asks photographers not to retouch any photos of him, claiming his “right to age.”

By the early 1970s Brazil was ripe for a band like Secos & Molhados to give new voice and form to this feeling. Composer João Ricardo brought the band together in São Paulo in 1971. In 1972 they gave a tremendously successful show at Teatro Ruth Escobar and were invited to record an LP with Continental Records. The self-titled LP was released in August 1973 and was the top selling album that year. It’s listed as no. 5 on Rolling Stone’s list of top 100 Brazilian albums of all time. Seven of the thirteen tracks are poems set to music, including Vinicius de Moraes‘s “Rosa de Hiroshima” and Manuel Bandeira‘s “Rondo do Capitão.

Another poem set to music, “Primavera nos dentes,” by  João Apolinário – João Ricardo’s father – and “Mulher barriguda” are the most overtly anti-dictatorship songs on the album.

“Sangue Latino” is about the Latin American condition of struggles, missteps, oppression, and resilience. The song is representative of the group’s fusion of political messages and pop rock clichés. Another big hit from the album was the rock track “O Vira,” which alludes to the Portuguese folk dance by the same name:

Lyrics in Portuguese

Jurei mentiras
E sigo sozinho
Assumo os pecados
Uh! Uh! Uh! Uh!

Os ventos do norte
Não movem moinhos
E o que me resta
É só um gemido

Minha vida, meus mortos
Meus caminhos tortos
Meu Sangue Latino
Uh! Uh! Uh! Uh!
Minh’alma cativa

Rompi tratados
Traí os ritos
Quebrei a lança
Lancei no espaço
Um grito, um desabafo

E o que me importa
É não estar vencido
Minha vida, meus mortos
Meus caminhos tortos
Meu Sangue Latino
Minh’alma cativa

Main source for this post: Secos & Molhados: o novo sentido da encenação da canção by José Roberto Zan 

Viola Enluarada

Lyrics from “Viola Enluarada” by Marcos Valle and Paulo Sérgio Valle (1968)



Good Audio Version (Marcos Valle and Milton Nascimento)

The hand that plays a guitar, if necessary, makes war
Kills the world, wounds the earth.
The voice that sings a song, if necessary, sings a hymn
Exalts death.
Viola on a moonlit night in the backlands is like a sword
Hope for vengeance.
The same foot that dances a samba, if necessary, goes to combat
Capoeira
He who has a companion at night knows that peace is fleeting
To defend her he gets up and screams:  I’ll go!
Hand, guitar, song and sword
And moonlit viola
Through the countryside and city
Flag bearer, capoeira, marching they go on singing,
Liberty, liberty, liberty…

— Interpretation —

Album cover for Viola Enluarada (1968)
Album cover for Viola Enluarada (1968)

The viola referred to in this song is different from the violin-like instrument that most English speakers know as a viola. In Brazilian music, viola almost always refers to a plucked twelve-string acoustic  guitar that’s associated with the countryside.  “Companion” is used in the feminine, and “to defend her he gets up and screams…” could refer to both the companion and peace.

In 1967, Marcos Valle was in New York recording the album Samba 68. It was his longest stay yet in the United States, and he was looking on from afar during a particularly dark time in Brazil, as the military dictatorship that had seized power in 1964 tightened its grip over society in the months prior to the decree of AI-5. Yearning for home, Marcos composed this distinctly Brazilian melody. When he returned to Brazil, he brought the tune to his eldest brother and partner, Paulo Sérgio Valle, who wrote the lyrics.  Soon after, Marcos met Milton Nascimento at Tom Jobim‘s house in Leblon, and the two sang the song together. They made a perfect pair; the song suited Milton – it even seemed like it could be one of his own.

Among protest songs from the 1960s and 1970s, “Viola Enluarada” stands out for having not only a powerful political message but also a rich, intricate melody. (Many protest songs, perhaps most notoriously “Caminhando/Pra não dizer que não falei das flores” by Geraldo Vandré, were known for having rousing lyrics set to very simple melodies.)  Marcos and Milton released “Viola Enluarada” – with an arrangement by Dori Caymmi  – as a single in 1968.  By that time, stores already had long waiting lists for the single, which the tremendously popular group Quarteto em Cy had been singing in their shows. The song also became the title track for Marcos’s next album, and in the early 70s was adopted as a sort of hymn by the Araguaia guerrillas, who had taken up arms against the military dictatorship.

Lyrics in Portuguese

A mão que toca um violão
Se for preciso faz a guerra,
Mata o mundo, fere a terra.
A voz que canta uma canção
Se for preciso canta um hino,
Louva à morte.
Viola em noite enluarada
No sertão é como espada,
Esperança de vingança.
O mesmo pé que dança um samba
Se preciso vai à luta,
Capoeira.
Quem tem de noite a companheira
Sabe que a paz é passageira,
Prá defendê-la se levanta
E grita: Eu vou!
Mão, violão, canção e espada
E viola enluarada
Pelo campo e cidade,
Porta bandeira, capoeira,
Desfilando vão cantando
Liberdade.
Quem tem de noite a companheira
Sabe que a paz é passageira,
Prá defendê-la se levanta
E grita: Eu vou!
Porta bandeira, capoeira,
Desfilando vão cantando
Liberdade.
Liberdade, liberdade, liberdade…

Main sources for this post: A Canção no Tempo: 85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras, vol. 2: 1958 – 1985 by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello,  and Songbook: Marcos Valle, by Almir Chediak.