Não quero mais amar a ninguém

Lyrics from “Não quero mais amar a ninguém” by Carlos Cachaça, Cartola and Zé da Zilda (Zé com fome), 1936

I no longer wish to love anyone
I wasn’t happy, fate didn’t will
My first love
It died like the flower, yet a bud
Leaving thorns that tore up my heart
A seed of love, I know that’s what I’ve been since birth
But without life and radiance, that’s my lot
I tried for the first time to make a dream reverberate
‘Twas a kiss that was born and died, without ever being given
Sometimes I burst out laughing upon remembering the past
I never thought of love, I never loved nor was I loved
If you judge that I’m lying, I can swear by it
It was a mere dream that came and went, and nothing more

— Interpretation —

Carlos Cachaça, right, with Cartola and Nelson Cavaquinho.
Carlos Cachaça, right, with Cartola, center, and Nelson Cavaquinho.

The 1978 documentary “Os avós do samba” identifies Carlos Cachaça as the foremost symbol of the history of samba, or as he called himself, the “archive and library of Mangueira,” the historic hillside neighborhood and the samba school he helped to found in 1929. The documentary then turns to his wife, Menininha (at minute 04:35), to ask her her favorite song by her husband; she begins to sing, “Não quero mais amar a ninguém.” That’s her favorite, she states; a second favorite, she couldn’t pick:

Carlos Cachaça being honored by Rio's most celebrated sambistas at his 96th birthday party. Photo via Almanaque do Samba.
Carlos Cachaça being honored by Rio’s most celebrated sambistas at his 96th birthday party. Photo via Almanaque do Samba.

Carlos Moreira de Castro got his nickname at age 17 to differentiate him from another Carlos on the Mangueira hillside who was  less fond of the sugar-cane liquor. In the documentary above, Menininha relates that her husband, then 76, long ago stopped drinking cachaça. (Maybe that’s how he lived to be 97.) But in spite of his healthier habits, she remarks, he “still doesn’t make it home some nights.”

So where does he sleep? “Aí é que a cobra fuma – não sei!,” she responds. (Literally, “that’s when the snake smokes — I don’t know.” The phrase is similar to the Portuguese, “Aí é que o bicho pega,” roughly and dryly translatable in English as, “Now there you’ve got me!”)  

The line from this song, “Semente de amor eu sei que sou desde nascença,” translated here as “A seed of love, I know that’s what I’ve been since birth,” was celebrated and archived by the Brazilian Academy of Letters.  

A prolific poet and lyricist throughout his life, Carlos Cachaça’s first and only solo album was recorded in 1976, when he was 74 years old.  He worked for the railway to make a living, and was relatively unknown during the Golden Age of radio in Brazil, from around 1932 to the mid 1950s. The exception was Aracy de Almeida‘s 1936 recording of this song:

For more on the friendship and partnership between Carlos Cachaça and Cartola, see Acontece and Alvorada.

Paulinho da Viola sings “Não quero mais amar a ninguem”:

Lyrics in Portuguese

Não quero mais amar a ninguém
Não fui feliz, o destino não quis
O meu primeiro amor
Morreu como a flor, ainda em botão,
Deixando espinhos que dilaceram meu coração.

Semente de amor sei que sou desde nascença,
Mas sem ter a vida e fulgor, heis minha sentença,
Tentei pela primeira vez um sonho vibrar,
Foi beijo que nasceu e morreu, sem se chegar a dar,.
(bisa a primeira parte)
Às vezes dou gargalhada ao lembrar do passado,
Nunca pensei em amor, nunca amei nem fui amado,
Se julgas que estou mentindo, jurar sou capaz,
Foi simples sonho que passou e nada mais

Main sources for this post: documentary Os avos do samba (1978) and O Almanaque do Samba by André Diniz


Lyrics from “Alvorada” by Cartola, Carlos Cachaça and Hermínio Bello de Carvalho (1968)

Good Audio Version

Dawn up on the hillside, what beauty
No one cries, there’s no sorrow, no one feels displeasure…
The sun, coloring, is so lovely, is so lovely
And nature smiling, painting, painting, … dawn

You too remind me of the dawn when it arrives
Illuminating my lifeless paths
And the rest for me is so little, or almost nothing
Just rambling on like this, on this lost highway

— Interpretation —

Daybreak in Rio de Janeiro, via National Geographic.

The inspiration for this song – another classic samba from Mangueira mainstays Cartola and Carlos Cachaça – came one early morning as the two were walking down Rio’s Pendura a Saia hill, which is part of the larger Morro de Mangueira. Moved by the beauty of the first light of day, and its contrast with the destitution on the hillside, they composed the first lines of the samba together.  They then brought the piece to their friend Hermínio Bello de Carvalho for completion; Carvalho wrote the final lines while Cartola composed the melody. (For more on the friendship and partnership between Cartola and Carlos Cachaça, see these posts.)

Carlos Cachaça and his wife, Menina, the sister of Cartola’s wife, Zica. Cartola and Carlos Cachaça met in 1922; they became fast friends and went on to found Rio’s most celebrated carnival samba school, Estação Primeira da Mangueira. Photo via Raiz do Samba.

The song recalls the final scene in Black Orpheus, the 1959 film adaptation of Vinicius de Moraes’s play, Orfeu da Conceição (1954). The play brought the Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice to the hillside slums of Rio de Janeiro; it was also the first time Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobim composed together.

Lyrics in Portuguese

Cartola, Ismael Silva, and Mano Décio da Viola on the cover of the popular magazine Veja in 1975. At the time, Cartola had stopped performing, hurt and indignant over the poor treatment and low pay that he and his fellow sambistas received in Rio’s recording studios and music venues. Photo via Raiz do Samba.

Alvorada lá no morro, que beleza
Ninguém chora, não há tristeza
Ninguém sente dissabor

O sol colorindo é tão lindo, é tão lindo
E a natureza sorrindo, tingindo, tingindo
( a alvorada )
Você também me lembra a alvorada
Quando chega iluminando
Meus caminhos tão sem vida
E o que me resta é bem pouco
Ou quase nada, do que ir assim, vagando
Nesta estrada perdida.M

Main source for this post: A Canção no Tempo: 85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras, vol. 2 : 1958 – 1985 by Jairo Severiano and Zuzu Homem de Mello


Lyrics from “Acontece” by Cartola
Album: Cartola (1974)

Good Audio Version (Cida Moreira)  and Cartola

Forget our love, go on and forget it
Because everything in the world happens,
And it so happens that I don’t know how to love anymore
You’ll cry, you’ll suffer, and you don’t deserve it,
But it happens

It so happens that my heart went cold
And our nest of love is empty
If I were still able to pretend I love you,
Oh if only I were able…
But I don’t want to, I oughtn’t do that
That won’t happen

— Interpretation —

Paulinho da Viola, Aracy de Almeida, Albino Pinheiro, Carlos Cachaça, Cartola, and Clementina de Jesus.

On December 7, 1980, a week after Cartola passed away in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian TV program Fantástico aired footage from 1977 in which Cartola said he would like to be remembered, “years and years later,” by the song “Acontece.” (This YouTube video shows Fantastico’s homage to Cartola, which includes Paulinho da Viola singing “Acontece” with Cartola by his side in 1977, and a group of Rio de Janeiro’s most beloved sambistas singing him “Samba for Cartola” in 1979.) Acontece was also the name Cartola gave to his first round of solo performances, which were at Rio’s Teatro da Galeria in 1978 — just two years before his death.

In a previous post, I briefly mentioned Cartola’s mysterious disappearance from Rio’s samba scene at the end of the 1940s, after the death of his companion Deolinda. Here’s what happened during those years when many believed Cartola had died:

Immediately after Deolinda’s death, Cartola went on composing. He wrote “Rolam meus olhos” and “Sim” in response to her passing, and for Carnaval 1948 composed the samba-enredo  “Vale São Francisco” with his friend and partner Carlos Cachaça. That was the last samba-enredo the two composed together, and the last Carnaval that Cartola marched with Mangueira samba school to a song he’d written.  Mangueira’s new president, Hermes Rodrigues, didn’t like Cartola; Cartola became frustrated, and had a falling out with the school he had founded.  Shortly after, he disappeared from Mangueira.

Reflecting on those years, Cartola remarked, “I had been sick, and then I lost my first wife and ended up mixing myself up in some business that it’s not even worth mentioning. I ended up wasting six or seven years of my life… It was something that happened to me that could happen to anyone. I hid myself from everyone.”   Asked where he had been,  Cartola said “I didn’t disappear! I was with that woman, I gave up everything for that woman; I even gave up music, I stopped playing guitar!”

That woman was Donária, whom Cartola took up with after Deolinda’s death. The two moved in together in another Rio de Janeiro neighborhood, Caju, much to the chagrin of Carlos Cachaça, who remarked, “I would go a lot to the Manilha favela, in Caju, going after Cartola. He was with that big fat woman, Donária. What’s more, Cartola had the hots for fat women. And at the time, he was a bit of a vagrant. That woman wasn’t for him, God save me. But he was in love with her. And she was crazy for Mário de Aurora, from Mangueira. She would leave Cartola alone in Manilha and come here chasing after Mário.”

Cartola and Zica pictured in the window of the home they built together in Mangueira.

Fortunately, Zica — a lifetime acquaintance from Mangueira, and sister of Carlos Cachaça’s wife, Menina — fell in love with Cartola even at this low point in his life. In 1953 she went to live with him in Manilha for a couple of months, and then brought him back to Mangueira. She encouraged Cartola to continue composing and playing guitar. Still, Cartola maintained a low profile, until one fortuitous night in 1956 when he was rediscovered by the journalist Sérgio Porto at a café in Ipanema. Cartola was working nightshifts at an Ipanema carwash, and went to have a quick drink at the café; Porto spotted him and grew ecstatic. Porto and his friends, enamored of the samba master they referred to as “the Divine One” (“o Divino”), quickly reintroduced Cartola to Rio’s samba circuit, where he remained a central figure until his death in 1980.

Lyrics in Portuguese:

Esquece o nosso amor, vê se esquece.
Porque tudo na vida acontece
E acontece que eu já não sei mais amar.
Vai sofrer, vai chorar, e você não merece,
Mas isso acontece.
Acontece que o meu coração ficou frio
E o nosso ninho de amor está vazio.
Se eu ainda pudesse fingir que te amo,
Ah, se eu pudesse
Mas não posso, não devo fazê-lo,
Isso não acontece.

Main source for this post:  Cartola: Os Tempos Idos, by Marília Barboza da Silva and Arthur de Oliveira Filho