Tim Maia: “Não vou ficar” – “Azul da cor do mar” – “These are the songs”

“Não vou ficar” (Tim Maia; recorded by Roberto Carlos, 1969)

Há muito tempo eu vivi calado // For so long I kept quiet
Mas agora resolvi falar // But now I’ve decided to speak up
Chegou a hora, tem que ser agora // It’s time, it’s gotta be now
E com você não posso mais ficar // And with you, I can’t stay any longer
Não vou ficar, não (não, não) // No, I’m not gonna stay,  no no no
Não posso mais ficar, não, não, não (nao, nao) // I can’t stay any longer, no no…
Não posso mais ficar // I can’t stay any longer

Toda verdade deve ser falada // All truths must be spoken
E não vale nada se enganar // And it’s worthless to fool yourself
Não tem mais jeito, tudo está desfeito // There’s no way out, everything’s undone
E com você não posso mais ficar // And with you, I can’t stay any longer
Não vou ficar, não (não, não) // I’m not gonna stay, no no no
Não posso mais ficar, não, não, não(Não, não) // I can’t stay, no no
Não posso mais ficar // I can’t stay any longer
Pensando bem // Thinking it over
Não vale a pena // It’s not worth it
Ficar tentando em vão // To keep trying in vain
O nosso amor não tem mais solução // Our love has no cure
Não, não, não, não, não, não, não // No, no, no, no no no
Por isso resolvi agora // That’s why I decided now
Te deixar de fora do meu coração // To leave you out of my heart
Com você não dá mais certo e ficar sozinho // It doesn’t work with you anymore, and to stay alone
Minha solução, é solução sim (nao, nao) // My solution, that’s a real solution (no no no)
Não tem mais solução, não, não, não (nao, nao) // There’s no other way out (no no no)
Não tem…// There’s no other way out

“Azul da cor do mar”  (Tim Maia, 1970)

Ah! Se o mundo inteiro me pudesse ouvir // Ah! if the whole world could only hear me
Tenho muito pra contar // I have a lot to tell
Dizer que aprendi // To say that I’ve learned

E na vida a gente tem que entender // And in life we need to understand
Que um nasce pra sofrer // That some are born to suffer
Enquanto o outro ri // While the other laughs

Mas quem sofre sempre tem que procurar // But the sufferer always needs to seek out
Pelo menos vir achar // At least come to find
Razão para viver // A reason to live

Ver na vida algum motivo pra sonhar // See in life some reason to dream
Ter um sonho todo azul // Have a deep blue dream
Azul da cor do mar // Blue the color of the sea

“These are the songs” by Tim Maia, released together with Elis Regina (1970)

These are the songs
I wanna sing
These are the songs
I wanna play
I will sing it every (little) time
And I will sing it every day (Now listen here)
These are the songs
That I wanna sing and play

Esta é a canção que eu vou ouvir // This is the song I’m gonna hear
Esta é a canção que eu vou cantar // This is the song I’m gonna sing
Fala de você, meu bem // It speaks of you, my dear
E do nosso amor também // And of our love, too
Sei que você vai gostar // I know you’ll like it


— Commentary —

Tim Maia, right, during his days in Tarrytown, NY, where he lived from 1959 – 1963. He formed this vocal-harmony group the Ideals with an Italian singer he met, and the group recorded one song – “New Love” – with lyrics by Maia. Maia re-recorded the song in 1973.


A few days back – 28 September 2016 – would have been the 74th birthday of the father of Brazilian soul music, Tim Maia. I meant to have this post up in time for the date, but got too caught up in the stories in Nelson Motta’s biography, Vale Tudo: Tim Maia. I decided to separate the post in two parts:  The first covers Maia’s early life and the beginning of his career (1942 – 1970ish), and an upcoming post will focus on the 70s, 80s and 90s.


Baby “Tião” Maia, Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, c. 1946.

Sebastião “Tião” Maia (September 28, 1942 – March 14, 1998) grew up in Rio’s north-zone neighborhood of Tijuca. The youngest of twelve children, his irascible temperament and plumpish figure were signs of the spoiling he received starting early on, as the youngest of the clan; both would plague him throughout his life.

Tião’s father ran a fairly successful little restaurant, and Tião began delivering boxed meals – marmitas -for the restaurant at age 12. He spent the rest of his adolescence trying to rid himself of the unfortunate appellation the neighborhood kids gave him, “Tião Marmiteiro” – something like Tião Lunchbox Boy; his rocker personas were part of this attempt to shed that identity. As he pounded the pavement carrying  meals on an iron rod over his shoulders, he sang radio hits, refining his voice.

When he was 13, Tião was allowed to take a different job, as an office boy with a local business, running odd errands around town. He was fired after three months for being disrespectful and talking back to his bosses, a portent of his professional future. He lasted even less time in his next job, and began to spend more and more time running around the city with friends, eating, playing soccer, singing and banging out beats on any can he could find. When he turned 15, he demanded a debutante ball, a luxury none of his sisters had indulged in, but which he felt he deserved – and his parents conceded.

The Beginning

The explosion of rock and roll in the United States in the mid-1950s reverberated over radio waves in Tijuca, where Maia became enraptured with the sounds and simple chords, which he quickly learned to imitate on the guitar.

Tim Maia playing with the Sputniks in 1957

Every day at 5 p.m. he tuned in to the Hora de Broadway on Rádio Metropolitana, where he listened to and perfected his imitations of the likes of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Barry. He began to hang out with other young local rock aficionados at Lanchonete Divino (address: Haddock Lobo, esquina com Matoso). The usual crowd at Divino included one of Tião’s old friends from the Tijuca soccer pitches, Erasmo Carlos, Jorge Ben, and  Arlênio Lívio. One day in late 1957,  Arlênio brought along another friend to sing for Tião:  Roberto Carlos. Tião invited Roberto to be the fifth member of the rock band he was forming with Arlênio, Edson Trindade and Wellington Oliveira,  the Sputniks. And through this crowd, Roberto Carlos met Erasmo Carlos, who would become one of his greatest musical partners over the next half-century.


The Nickname “Tim” 

The Sputniks kids auditioned for local rock big-shot Carlos Imperial, who invited them for their one and only TV appearance on his segment Clube do Rock – the beginning of the end for the group. Back stage after the performance, Roberto sang a solo Elvis impression for Imperial, who invited him to perform alone on an upcoming program. Tião felt jealous and betrayed when he heard the news, and the ensuing fight signaled the end of the Sputniks. On the program, Imperial announced Roberto Carlos as the “Brazilian Elvis Presley.” Trying to swallow his rage, Maia determined that he preferred to be the Brazilian Little Richard anyway – their extravagant, brash-black styles were much more in sync. He tracked down Imperial and belted out “Long Tall Sally“; Imperial scheduled him for the show, suggesting he go by a more stage-friendly nickname, Tim.

Bossa Nova and New York

João Gilberto and Tom Jobim in front of Copacabana Palaca, 1961.

But just when rock seemed to be taking off in Tijuca, the late 50s brought dramatic changes: Between late 1957 and early 1959, Elvis Presley went into military service in Germany; Little Richard became an ordained minister of the Seventh Day Adventist Church; and Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in February 1959 – the same month Maia’s father passed away. Meanwhile, João Gilberto released Chega de Saudade, the archetypal album of bossa nova. Suddenly the upper-class crowd from Rio’s beachside Zona Sul dominated the music scene across Rio and Brazil, with chords and harmonies that Tim had never even imagined.


Frustrated by the flagging rock scene and fascinated by the bossa nova boom, Maia and Roberto Carlos struggled to break into that scene with the help of well-connected Carlos Imperial, but to no avail.  So, taking advantage of the relative sense of liberty that came with the death of his father, Maia gathered what amounted to almost nothing and caught a church-sponsored plane to New York.

A former client of the family restaurant gave him a letter with the address of a woman who had married an Irish New Yorker thirty years prior. After myriad mishaps, Maia was warmly received by the woman’s family in a cozy, Tarrytown, NY, home. Fortunately they had a son born on the exact same day – 28 September, 1942 – a coincidence which warmed their hearts to Tim.

Maia quickly became fluent in the slangy English spoken by the blacks and Puerto Ricans he hung out with in Tarrytown, and became increasingly infatuated with the rock and soul music that now surrounded him. He took odd jobs as long as they’d put up with him, and when he tired of the comfy suburban life, he moved in with questionable characters in a gritty part of town.  From then on he essentially couch-surfed,  sometimes passing cold nights on the heated NYC subway trains when he had the money for the fare.

In late 1961, he met Felix De Masi, an Italian singer, and together they formed the vocal group The Ideals, and recorded one song, with lyrics by Maia – “New Love” – which Tim re-recorded in 1973.

Finally,  Maia made his way out of the suburbs, to Manhattan, where he found a job that made more sense for him: janitor in an old-folks home. He earned room and board, and was closer to the vibrant music scene, frequenting the Village and Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater.

Road Trip, Prison and Deportation

But with the arrival of winter 1963, Tim decided to steal a car with friends and head south with plenty of pot for the road. On the trip he was arrested five times, the last time charged with car theft and thrown in a Florida jail, where he spent six months before being deported. He disembarked in Rio in April 1964: the country was now run by the recently installed military dictatorship, and to his surprise, his old Tijuca buddies Roberto Carlos, Erasmo Carlos and Jorge Ben Jor had moved to São Paulo and were blowing up on the radio.

Maia managed to land some jobs as a tour guide with his good English, but his lackluster knowledge of the city’s geography and history meant he didn’t last very long in the field. And it didn’t take too long for him to get thrown back in jail again: In early 1966, he was caught stealing a table and chairs from a home in Tijuca – an attempt to finance an upcoming recording. As he completed his ten-month prison sentence, he looked on in helpless dismay as his old friends from Lanchonette Divino became stars.

São Paulo and the Jovem Guarda

October 1966: Roberto Carlos was crowned the “Rei da Jovem Guarda”

Immediately after he was released from jail Maia scrambled onto a bus to São Paulo, armed with two full cans of condensed milk to drink along the way. He went directly to TV Record, where he tried to make his way into the rock program Jovem Guarda with Roberto and Erasmo. But for months Tim had no luck even talking to Roberto, much less making it onto the stage. He finally managed to earn an appearance on the show after he caught up with Roberto’s wife, Nice, in Rio, in 1967. But he was bitterly disappointed by the rather straight-edge audience’s reception of his black, soul sound.

“Não vou ficar”

L-R: Erasmo Carlos, Tim Maia, and Roberto Carlos, c. 1969.

Still convinced that he deserved the same – actually more – fame and adulation as his old friends, Tim sought out Roberto Carlos and Nice at their São Paulo apartment to show them his composition “Você,”  which Eduardo Araújo was preparing to record. They liked it, but Roberto wanted something rougher, with more swing – and that another singer wasn’t already getting ready to release. Roberto said he’d record it if Tim brought it.

Tim anxiously composed “Não vou ficar” and brought it back to Roberto, with the arrangement already in mind. Roberto kept his word, recorded the song, and it was a hit across the country, received as the mark of a new, grittier, more adult period for Carlos .

“Azul da cor do mar”

Fábio and Tim Maia

The tremendous success of “Não vou ficar” opened doors for Tim, who received an invitation to record a compact with Polydor in Rio de Janeiro. Still in São Paulo, Tim ran into the popular Rio-based Paraguayan singer Fábio, whom he had met through an acquaintance from Tijuca, Almir Ricardi, and who was an early admirer of Tim’s soul style. Maia told Fábio that he would be moving back to Rio de Janeiro and brazenly asked Fábio if he could stay at his apartment. Fábio conceded.


Soon after, Maia arrived in Rio de Janeiro to record the compact with Polydor. Crashing at Fábio’s, he found himself sleeping on an uncomfortable couch as Fábio and his producer Gláuco received girl after girl in their private rooms. He felt alone and frustrated. When Fábio and Glaúco traveled to Salvador, he moved into Gláuco’s room, where he could still smell the girls’ perfume on the sheets, and felt even more lonesome in the empty apartment. As he gazed at a poster on the wall, with a naked girl in front of blue Tahitian sea, he composed “Azul da cor do mar.”  Fábio listened to Tim sing the song when he returned to the apartment, and exclaimed: “Carajo, brother, you’ve just written the song of your life!” Tim recorded the song for his first LP, also with Polydor, and indeed the public loved it – more out of appreciation for Maia’s tremendous voice and fresh soul style than for any particular aspect of the song itself.

Elis and “These are the songs”

Tim and Elis

In early 1969, Nelson Motta, Maia’s biographer, had just taken a job as a record producer with Phillips, and was assigned to produce for Elis Regina, to this day perhaps Brazil’s most beloved female singer of all time. Elis was looking for a new sound to record, and when Motta heard Tim Maia’s recording of “Primavera” (Cassiano & Silvio Rochiel) and “Jurema” on that simple compact  Maia had recorded while staying with Fábio, Motta had a feeling this was just what Elis was looking for.  He scheduled a meeting in Rio with Tim, Elis, Wilson das Neves, and other musicians recording with Elis.

Tim arrived at the studio on his best behavior and played two songs, the second being “These are the songs” – half in English, half in Portuguese; half soul, half bossa nova. Elis and Motta loved it. Elis asked him to play it again, and started singing along as the musicians in the studio started playing around with accompaniments. They quickly moved on to recording. After a few takes, Motta recalls, “More than a duet, the recording was turning into a duel between two giants, two styles, two very different schools, each one wanting to sing better than the other.” The president of Phillips heard the recording and loved it. Tim went to São Paulo with Elis and the musicians, and received advanced royalties from the album, which the Phillips execs knew was going to blow up. The recognition also was a tremendous boost for his first LP, which he was just finishing recording with Polydor. Everything finally seemed to have come in place for his career to take off.

Main source for this post: Vale Tudo: Tim Maia by Nelson Motta, and A Canção no Tempo: 85 anos de músicas brasileiras, vol.2, by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello



“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-

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

Padeirinho da Mangeira: “Favela” – “Vida de Operário” – “Cavaco Emprestado” – “Modificado” – “Como será o ano 2000” – “O Grande Presidente”

“Favela” by Padeirinho & Jorginho Pessanha (1966)

Numa vasta extensão // On a vast expanse
Onde não há plantação // Where there’s nothing planted
Nem ninguém morando lá // And no one living there
Cada pobre que passa por ali // Every poor man who passes by
Só pensa em construir seu lar // Can only think of building a home
E quando o primeiro começa // And when the first begins
Os outros depressa procuram marcar // The others rush to try to mark
Seu pedacinho de terra pra morar // Their little piece of land to live on
E assim a região // And that’s how the region
sofre modificação // Undergoes modification
Fica sendo chamada de a nova aquarela // Ends up being called the “new watercolor”
E é aí, é aí que o lugar // And that’s when, that’s when the place
Então passa a se chamar favela // Starts being called “favela”

“Vida de Operário” by Padeirinho & Quincas do Cavaco (first recording 1966 – Jamelão)
(video unavailable)

Ora vejam // Now look
Com é a vida de um operário // What the life of a factory-hand is like
Sai todos os dias no mesmo horário // He leaves every day at the same exact time
Fazendo ginástica pra trabalhar // Doing acrobatics to get to work
Ele pega o trem do subúrbio // He catches the suburban train line
Tão superlotado // So overcrowded
Que pra viajar tem que ir pendurado //That to take it he has to hang off of it
Arriscando a vida pra lá e pra cá  // Risking his life all over the place
E as vezes  // And sometimes
Quando ele chega um pouco atrasado // When he arrives just a little late
Por causa do trem que ficou enguiçado // On account of the train that broke down
O patrão não deixa ele mais pegar // His boss doesn’t let him take it anymore
Mas as vezes quando ele pega // But sometimes when he takes it
Ele perde o Domingo // He loses his Sunday
Porque o patrão que ele tem é mendigo // Because the boss he has is a miser
E nunca lhe deu uma colher de chá // And never gave him even a tea
(Azar do Valdemar) // (What tough luck for Chuck)

“Cavaco emprestado” by Padeirinho (1974)

Você quebrou // You broke
Meu cavaco de estimação // My pet cavaco
E não pagou // And didn’t pay
Por que razão? // Why was that?
Agora mesmo quero indenização // I want indemnity right now
Porque se não, se não, se não // Or else, or else, or else
Se não não, sei não… // Or else I don’t even know what…
Você pegou // You took
Meu cavaquinho emprestado // My cavaquinho on loan
Viajou pra todo lado //And traveled everywhere
E nem sequer me convidou // And didn’t even invite me
Ganhou dinheiro // You made money
Tirou onda de artista // Played the star
Quero pagamento a vista // I want my full cash payment
Do meu cavaquinho // For my cavaquinho
Que você quebrou // That you broke

“Modificado” by Padeirinho (1962; first recording 1980s)

Vejo o samba tão modificado // I see samba so modified
Que eu também fui obrigado // That I’m also obliged
A fazer modificação // To make modifications
Espero que vocês não me censurem // I hope you don’t censor me
O que eu quero é que todos procurem // All I want is that you all try
Ver se eu não tenho razão // And see if I’m not right –
Já não se fala mais no sincopado // No one talks about syncopated anymore
Desde quando o desafinado // Since when was out-of-tune
Aqui teve grande aceitação // So accepted here
E até eu também gostei daquilo // And I even liked that too
Modificando o estilo // Modifying the style
Do meu samba tradição // Of my samba tradition
Gosto de um samba ritmado pra sambar // I like a rhythmic samba to swing to
Também gosto de um sincopado pra dançar // And I like a syncopated samba to dance
Mas agora tudo é diferente // But now everything’s different
Já não se fala mais naquele samba de ritmo quente // No one talks anymore about those sambas with hot rhythms

“Como será o ano 2000” by Padeirinho (first recorded by João Nogueira, 1983)

Como será daqui para o ano 2000? // What will it be like by the year 2000?
Como será o nosso querido Brasil? // What will our dear Brazil be like?
Como será o morro sem os barracôes? // What will the hillside without the shacks be like?
Como será o Rio sem as tradições? // And Rio without its traditions?
Será que no ano 2000 as escolas de samba irão desfilar? // I wonder if the samba schools will parade in the year 2000?
Será que haverá carnaval? Será? // I wonder if there’ll be Carnival? Could it be?
Daqui para o ano 2000 só Deus sabe como será // By the year 2000, only god knows what it’ll be like
E o povo do Brasil verá // and the Brazilian people will see
Como será? // What will it be like?

“O Grande Presidente” (1956)

No ano de 1883 // In the year of 1883
No dia 19 de Abril // On the 19th day of April
Nascia Getúlio Dorneles Vargas // Getúlio Dorneles Vargas was coming into this world
Que mais tarde seria o governador do nosso Brasil // And would come to be governor of our Brazil
Ele foi eleito a deputado // He was elected deputy
Para defender as causas do nosso país // To defend our nation’s causes
E na revolução de 30 ele aqui chegava // And in the revolution of ’30 he was arriving here
Como substituto de Washigton Luiz // To take the place of Washington Luiz
E do ano de 1930 pra cá // And from year of 1930 to now
Foi ele o presidente mais popular // He was the most popular president
Sempre em contato com o povo // Always in touch with the people
Construindo um Brasil novo // Building a new Brazil
Trabalhando sem cessar // Working incessantly
Como prova em Volta Redonda a cidade do aço // And as proof, in Volta Redonda, the city of steel
Existe a grande siderúrgica nacional // We have the great national steel industry
Que tem o seu nome elevado no grande espaço // Which bears his name raised high in space
Na sua evolução industrial // In its industrial evolution
Candeias a cidade petroleira // Candeias, the “petroleum city”
Trabalha para o progresso fabril // Works for industrial progress
Orgulho da indústria brasileira // The pride of Brazilian industry
Na história do petróleo do Brasil // In the history of Brazilian oil

Ô Ô // Oh, Oh
Salve O estadista idealista e realizador BIS // Save the idealist statist and man of action
Getúlio Vargas  // Getúlio Vargas
O grande presidente de valor // The great president of valor

— Commentary —

Padeirinho da Mangueira.
Padeirinho da Mangueira.

Só muitos anos depois entendi a grande importância do Padeirinho no contexto da cultura popular. Ele deixou registrado com música, ritmo e rimas, a linguagem das comunidades mais baixas da sociedade.

—  Only many years later would I come to understand the tremendous importance of Padeirinho in the context of popular culture. He left records – through music, rhythms, and rhymes – of the language of the lowest classes of our society. —
– Nelson Sargento

Padeirinho was one of Mangueira’s most versatile sambistas of all time, excellent with improvisation and humorous critical observation of social ills. He was an expert in the slang of Rio’s favelas, and used the “language of the morro”  to tell his syncopated stories about life in Rio’s lower social rungs in the mid-twentieth century.

His greatest idols were his elders in Mangueira:  Geraldo Pereira, Cartola, and Nelson Cavaquinho, especially. And his sambas represent a mixture of the styles of these three legendary samba composers, including romantic songs, syncopated critical sambas (“Vida de operário,” for example) in the style of Geraldo Pereira, and sambas de enredo like “O Grande Presidente.”

padeirinho_2-e1434740239974He may be most remembered for his cheeky use of slang from the morros in songs, as the Nelson Sargento quotation above points out. Many sambistas at the time hesitated to lace local dialect into lyrics: they were trying to conform to a more clean-cut image to appeal to larger audiences and appease authorities. But Padeirinho made several successful sambas that relied on slang from his community, including “Mora no assunto” – his first samba to be recorded, by Jamelão, in the early ’50s –  “Deixa de moda,” and “Nota de duque,” one of the most popular sambas on the morro in the late 1950s. Around then Padeirinho came to the conclusion that he should provide a translation so some more people could understand him, and he wrote one of his most popular sambas, “Linguagem do morro,” which provides a clever list of concepts that were called by different names on the morro.

Padeirinho was born Osvaldo Vitalino de Oliveira on March 5, 1927, in Laranjeiras, Rio de Janeiro; he earned the nickname “padeirinho” because his father was a padeiro – a baker. He moved with his father to the samba stronghold of Morro da Mangueira when he was ten, and began to compose around age thirteen. 

Padeirinho never had the chance to go to school and felt ashamed of his illiteracy. Through samba — finding rhymes and constructing lyrics — he taught himself to read and write. He began singing his sambas in canteens around the community for whoever would listen. He also began drinking at a very young age in those canteens, and samba and alcoholism would remain two constants in his life.

Padeirinho with his wife Cremilda. The couple had twelve children together.
Padeirinho with his wife Cremilda. The couple had twelve children together.

Padeirinho used to say 1947 was “his year”: that year, an older brother-in-law brought him to sing for the composers at Mangueira, where he performed his samba “Mangueira desceu para cantar,” and he officially entered the composers’ wing of the school.  He married his wife Cremilda that year – they stayed together until their deaths forty years later –  and he landed a steady job as a stevedore at Rio’s port, alongside many sambistas including Aniceto do Império, one of the leaders of the stevedores’ union. Another sambista and founder of Império Serrano samba school, Eloy Antero Dias, set Padeirinho up with the job, and there were so many sambistas on the docks – imperianos in particular – that Dona Ivone Lara said Império Serrano should actually be called the Union of Stevedores.

Bloco Clube do Samba" 1980, L-R: Eliseu do Tamborim, Padeirinho (center), Franco Paulino & João Nogueira in the window.
Bloco Clube do Samba” 1980, L-R: Eliseu do Tamborim, Padeirinho (center), Franco Paulino & João Nogueira in the window.

Mangueira at the time was a hotbed of samba, and as Padeirinho continued composing, big name recording artists became his fans and recorded his songs, beginning with Jamelão in Rio and Germano Mathias in São Paulo. Other samba legends who released Padeirinho’s sambas include João Nogueira, Paulinho da Viola, Beth Carvalho, Candeia, Martinho da Vila, Moacyr Luz, Xangô da Mangueira, Clementina de Jesus and Elza Soares.

In 1987, forty years after “his year,” Padeirinho was supposed to record his first album. But his wife Mida died in late 1986. Padeirinho, weak and heartbroken, died two months later, in January 1987.

Padeirinho reportedly composed “Favela” as he observed, from his home atop Morro da Mangueira, the favela dos Esqueletos rising up before him. (The favela was torn down to make space for the UERJ campus later on.)

“Modificado” is a response to bossa nova. In 1959, Padeirinho went twice to São Paulo and returned home frustrated, saying he had been hoping to hear Germano Mathias’s recording of his song “Zé da pinga” on the radio, but instead only heard Celly Campelo’s “Estúpido Cupido,” some other pop songs, and bossa nova, which everyone was talking about, albeit with mixed reactions. Padeirinho’s fellow sambistas around Mangueira hated the new style: samba with totally different sounds, rhythmic inflections and accents. But despite his frustration, Padeirinho didn’t mind it, and defended it as “samba all the same.”  In response to all the fuss, he wrote his humored syncopated critique of this new, modified samba: “Modificado,” which makes reference to the bossa nova song “Desafinado“(out of tune).

“O Grande Presidente” is one of the finest examples of the kind of bombastic samba-enredo that dominated Carnival in the 1950s and 1960s, full of statements about opulence, magnificence and glory. Mangueira came in third place that year, behind Império Serrano (Caçador de Esmeraldas, by Silas de Oliveira & Mano Décio) and Portela. This specific kind of samba is called a “samba-lençol” (sheet samba) since it covers the story of the person being paid tribute to from top to bottom, start to finish. The samba pays tribute to Getúlio Vargas, Brazil’s controversial populist leader who governed Brazil from 1930-1945 as a dictator and 1951-1954 as a democratically elected president. Vargas came to power in the revolution of 1930 mentioned in the song, and made a big push to industrialize Brazil, as the samba says. In August 1954, growing unrest signalled an impending military overthrow of Vargas. Before that could happen, he shot and killed himself in Catete Palace. Because of his populist principles, Vargas was known as the “father of the poor,” and Padeirinho’s samba in tribute to him, composed shortly after Vargas’s death, is widely considered one of the most beautiful samba-enredos of all time.

Main source for this post: Padeirinho da Mangueira: Retrato sincopado de um artista by Franco Paulino