Rara

Lyrics from “Rara” by Luiz Carlos da Vila and Nelson Sargento (on Benza, Deus2004)

__

Lara, o seu laraiá é lindo // Lara, your lara-iá is beautiful
Rara ao bailar sorrindo // Exquisite, dancing with a smile
são canções de quem tanto, tantos // They’re the songs of she who so many
corações retém com o seu canto. //hearts keeps so close with her song.
Baila e baila o ar // [She/ it] dances, and the air begins to dance
que ouvindo, vai lá, vem cá // and listening, goes hither and thither
e o mar ao ouvir // and the sea, upon hearing
traz o luar mais pra si // draws the moonlight closer in
faz o jardim beija-flor // makes the hummingbird garden
e o sol se põe a aplaudir // and the sun sets to applauding
o samba que a terra criou // the samba that the earth created
em Lara a mais clara versão do amor // in Lara, the most luminous version of love.

— Commentary —

Walter Alfaiate, Dona Ivone Lara, Moacyr Luz, Beth Carvalho, Luiz Carlos da Vila and João Nogueira on the cover of their 1999 album "Esquina Carioca."
Walter Alfaiate, Dona Ivone Lara, Moacyr Luz, Beth Carvalho, Luiz Carlos da Vila and João Nogueira on the cover of their 1999 album “Esquina Carioca.”
Nelson Sargento, grande Mangueirense and Vascaino, composed the melody for this samba.
Nelson Sargento, grande Mangueirense and Vascaino, composed the melody for this samba.

Since today, April 13, 2015, is Dona Ivone Lara’s 94th birthday, I wanted to post the song that I think is the most beautiful tribute to her, by her friends and fellow sambistas Nelson Sargento (b. July 25, 1924) and the late, deeply cherished Luiz Carlos da Vila (July 21, 1949 – October 20, 2008). Sargento composed the melody and Luiz Carlos da Vila wrote the lyrics, which reveal his singular knack for beautifully humanizing elements of nature in his sambas. My impression is that lara-iá is just a mixture of Lara’s name and the common samba chorus “lá-iá-iá.” The line that says “[she/it] dances” is because it could be referring to Lara herself, but seems to be referring to her song — either way, essentially the same message.

L-R: Wilson Moreira, Aldir Blanc, Luiz Carlos da Vila and Moacyr Luz, celebrating their new samba "Cabô meu pai."
L-R: Wilson Moreira, Aldir Blanc, Luiz Carlos da Vila and Moacyr Luz, celebrating their new samba “Cabô meu pai.”

Dona Ivone Lara is one of Rio de Janeiro’s most revered female samba singers and composers — the most venerated still alive today. She’s been a member of Império Serrano samba school since its founding in 1947, and prior to that, was part of the school Império Serrano broke off from, Prazer da Serrinha. She composed some of the genre’s all-time greatest successes, such as “Acreditar” (1976, with Délcio Carvalho, released initially by fellow imperiano Roberto Ribeiro); “Alguém me avisou” (1980); “Sorriso Negro” (1981); “Enredo do meu samba” (1981, with Jorge Aragão); “Mas quem disse que te esqueço” (1981, with Hermínio Bello de Carvalho); “Sonho Meu” (1978, with Délcio Carvalho); and the samba-enredo “Os Cinco Bailes da História do Rio” (1965, with Silas de Oliveira — the unrivaled master of samba-enredo –for Império Serrano). Here are images from the 1965 Carnaval parade:

Since Carnaval 1965, Lara has been erroneously credited with being the first female composer to have one of her compositions played on the avenue during Carnaval. That particular honor actually goes to Carmelita Brasil, founder, president and composer for Unidos da Ponte, which paraded to her samba in 1958. In the 1930s, Amélia Pires was already composing for the samba school Unidos da Tijuca, although there’s no record of her having composed a samba-enredo for the school.

But that’s not to diminish the importance of her treasured samba compositions, her moving performances and her powerful presence in the male-dominated samba world since the 1960s. Parabéns pra Dona Ivone Lara!

Dona Ivone Lara on the cavaquinho.
Dona Ivone Lara on the cavaquinho.
Lara_Carnaval 1985
Dona Ivone Lara in Carnaval 1985.

“Inteligência” & “És partideiro”

Lyrics from “Inteligência” by Aniceto do Império (1976)

Se os bichos são inteligentes // If animals are intelligent
por que não as criaturas? (2x) // Why not creatures? [i.e. people]
qual é a pedra mais doce? é rapadura // What’s the sweetest rock? It’s rapadura
qual é a defesa do banguela? é dentadura // What’s the defense of the toothless?  It’s dentures
cite uma cidade do oriente: Cingapura // Cite a city in the Orient: Singapore
Quando o malandro perde o conceito: quando dedura // When a malandro ruins his rep: when he snitches
qual é a ave de perna mais fina? é saracura // What’s the bird with the thinnest legs? It’s saracura

(refrain)

o nome do miúdo do porco: é frissura // The name of pork innards: is fissura
um arranhão inflamado: sutura // An inflamed scratch: stitches
a residência do falecido: é sepultura // The residency of the deceased: is the sepulture
o arco d’pua sobre a madeira: rodando fura // A hand-drill on wood: rotating, drills
o Aniceto com uma Loira e você com uma escura // Aniceto with a blonde – and you with a darker woman

(refrain)

mulher muito ciumenta: ninguém atura // A really jealous woman: no one can stand
qual a formiga de cabeça grande: é tanajura // What’s the ant with a big head: it’s tanajura
quando a mulher engana o homem? é quando jura // When a woman fools a man? is when she swears [takes vows]
A nossa mãe jurou ao nosso pai // Our mother made vows to our father
– Entretanto é uma boa criatura // But still, she’s a good creature
uma escrita rabiscada: rasura // A scratched-out bit of writing: erasure
e se é certo e sem rabisco: lisura (2x) // And if it’s true and has no scratches: it’s candor (2x)

a pretinha abrindo o’ óculos: é ter cultura // A black girl getting out glasses: that’s to be cultured
vou construir meu barraco: em Cascadura // I’m gonna build my shack: in Cascadura
qual o indispensável: licença da prefeitura // What’s essential: a license from city hall

(refrain)

o casado que namora: é cara dura // The married man who dates around: is brazen-faced
quando a mulher engana o homem: quando ela jura // When a woman fools a man? is when she swears [makes vows]
será que vocês adoraram ou gostaram da minha censura // Could it be you all adored or liked my commentary?
Não me fale mal das mulheres // Don’t badmouth women to me
– Fico invocado – E ninguém me segura // I get angry and nobody can hold me back
apesar de que passaram bem no teste – boa investidura (2x) // Even though you passed the test well – good investiture (2x)
Por isso então bate palmas para ela, a moçada de Cascadura // So clap your hands for this young crowd from Cascadura…
é só chegar na jogada, segura na palma .. ninguem atura // you just come into the game, keep it going with your hands, nobody can bear it…

__________

“És partideiro”
Aniceto do Império, 1984

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnykMWep5i0

Se você é partideiro, saberá me informar // If you’re a partideiro [someone who sings partido alto style of improvised samba]
do partido para a chula, a diferença que há (x2) // You’ll be able to tell me, between partido and chula, what’s the difference
me responda bem direitinho // Answer me carefully
não pise na bola, não vá vacilar // Don’t blow this, don’t go messing up
Se de fato és partideiro // If you’re in fact a partideiro
Por que tanto imaginar // Why so much reflection
(refrain)
versos decorados não aceito // I won’t accept memorized verses
quero é ver você improvisar // What I want is to see you improvise
dentro do contexto // Within the context
não rima “damá” com maricá // Don’t rhyme “damá” with Maricá [i.e. don’t make up words or change the emphasis — dama to “damá” to force a rhyme]
(refrain)
chula raiada é cantada // Chula raiada is sung
é preciso estribilhar // It’s necessary to sing a refrain
assim disse o que te conhece // That’s what the one who knows you says
o partido alto em qualquer lugar // Partido alto, all over

(refrain)

eu quero deixar um substituto // I want to leave a substitute
para me apresentar // to represent me
recordando as minhas memórias // recalling my memories
quando Jesus me levar// when Jesus takes me
(refrain)

— Commentary —

After work at the port, Aniceto (standing, left corner) used to get together with other longshoremen to sing and compose sambas.
After work at the port, Aniceto (standing, left corner) used to get together with other longshoremen to sing and compose sambas.

Aniceto de Menezes e Silva Júnior — who became known and revered in the samba world as Aniceto do Império — was born on March 11, 1912, in the Estácio neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.  Today he would be 103 years old.

Aniceto was a leader among sambistas in Rio, still considered the best ever at improvised verses in partido-alto style samba and an ingenious innovator in the question-and-answer style like in “Inteligência” above. Aniceto was a leader at the port, too, where he worked most of his life as a stevadore and headed the dockworkers’ union.

Aniceto was one of the founders of the Império Serrano samba school in March 1947.
Aniceto was one of the founders of the Império Serrano samba school in March 1947.

Alongside Silas de Oliveira, Mano Décio da Viola (an inspiration for Paulinho da Viola’s artistic name), and several others, Aniceto founded one of Rio de Janeiro’s most beloved samba schools, Império Serrano, just around his birthday in 1947. He was quickly named the school’s official orator.

In this very brief documentary with footage from the early 1980s, Brazil’s legendary music critic Sérgio Cabral calls Aniceto Brazil’s greatest improvisor of all time; the reporter, in turn, asks Aniceto how he does it — does he think of what he’s going to say as he’s singing? How does he achieve such brilliant rhymes?  Aniceto responds, “I’m a partideiroto be a partideiro, you have to have the gift. I was lucky enough to be born with the gift. A gift isn’t something you learn at school — you have it with you from the cradle.” Aniceto passed away on July 19, 1993.

After work at the port, Aniceto gathered fellow longshoremen to sing and compose sambas.
After worked all his life as a longshoreman at Rio’s port.
Aniceto_Port1
Aniceto working at Rio’s docks.

 

“Estrela de Madureira” and “Madureira Chorou”

Lyrics from “Estrela de Madureira” by Acyr Pimentel and Cardoso; recorded by Roberto Ribeiro (1975)

Shining in a tremendous theater, in a tourbillion of light, of light
The vision appears of she who my samba expresses
The star goes on shining, a thousand sequins sprinkling the ground with poetry
The lead showgirl from the suburb on the Central line was the pioneer
And a luxury train departs to exalt her art
That enchanted Madureira
Even with the stage darkened, apotheosis is the infinite
The star keeps on shining in the sky

— Interpretation–

Zakia Jorge's Teatro Madureira
Zaquia Jorge’s Teatro de Revista Madureira came to be known as Teatro Zaquia Jorge; the theater was in business for a little over five years, and stopped functioning after her death in 1957.
Zaquia Jorge (1924 - 1957) came to be known as the star of Madureira.
Zaquia Jorge (1924 – 1957) came to be known as the star of Madureira.

Acyr Pimentel and Cardoso composed this samba in tribute to Zaquia Jorge (6 Jan. 1924 – 22 Apr. 1957), a wildly popular showgirl and movie star in Rio in the 1940s and 50s. By 1952, Zaquia had achieved enough success to open her own theater, and she chose to set up her stage in Rio’s poor periphery (called the suburbio in Portuguese but quite different from the images conjured by “suburbs”), in Madureira neighborhood. Zaquia opened her theater right in front of Madureira station on the suburban train line from Central Station.  Zaquia quickly became a beloved figure in Rio’s North Zone for her bold, racy repertory and her rich contribution to the arts in Rio’s periphery. The debut revue at her theater was Trem de Luxo  — luxury train, which “Estrela de Madureira” makes reference to.

Zaquia Jorge in the 1957 movie A Baronesa Transviada:

Zaquia Jorge's Teatro Madureira took her name before going out of business after her death in 1957. The theater was right in front of the Madureira station on the suburban rail from Central Station.
Zaquia Jorge’s Teatro Madureira took her name before going out of business after her death in 1957. The theater was right in front of the Madureira station on the suburban rail from Central Station.

On April 22nd, 1957, Zaquia drowned while reportedly skinny dipping with other showgirls at Barra da Tijuca, which was still a deserted beach in those days.  For Carnival the following year, Carvalhinho and Júlio Monteiro composed and Joel de Almeida recorded “Madureira Chorou,” a tribute to Zaquia. “Madureira Chorou” was the most popular Carnival samba of 1958, and one of the few Carnival songs from the 50s that became a classic (and even earned a recording in French,”Si tu vas à Rio“):

Lyrics from “Madureira Chorou” by Carvalhinho and Júlio Monteiro (1958)

Madureira cried
Madureira cried in pain
When the voice of destiny, obeying the Holy Spirit
Called her [Madureira’s] star
Humble people, good people from the suburb
Who only cause problems if someone scorns them
These people who live in the North Zone
To this day cry over the death of their star
(Only I can’t cry)

The Império Serrano Samba School quadra in Madureira, Rio de Janeiro.
The Império Serrano Samba School quadra in Madureira, Rio de Janeiro.

In 1975, Império Serrano — one of Rio’s most traditional samba schools, from Madureira — chose Zaquia Jorge as the theme for their Carnival parade. But in the school’s internal contest to choose the samba it would parade to, composer Avarese‘s samba-enredo Zaquia Jorge, Vedete do Suburbio, Estrela de Madureira won out over “Estrela de Madureira.”  Fortunately, the beloved imperiano sambista Roberto Ribeiro recorded “Estrela de Madureira” that same year; while “Zaquia Jorge, Vedete do Suburbio, Estrela de Madureira” has been largely forgotten, “Estrela de Madureira” quickly became a sensation and is still extraordinarily popular nearly forty years later.

Lyrics in Portuguese: Estrela de Madureira

Brilhando
Num imenso cenário
Num turbilhão de luz, de luz
Surge a imagem daquela
Que o meu samba traduz
Ah…
Estrela vai brilhando
Mil paetês salpicando
O chão de poesia
A vedete principal
Do subúrbio da central foi a pioneira

E…
Um trem de luxo parte
Para exaltar a sua arte
Que encantou Madureira
Mesmo com o palco apagado
Apoteóse é o infinito
Continua estrela
Brilhando no céu

Lyrics in Portuguese: Madureira Chorou

Madureira chorou
Madureira chorou de dor
Quando a voz do destino
Obedecendo ao Divino
A sua estrela chamou
Gente modesta
Gente boa do subúrbio
Que só comete distúrbio
Se alguém lhe menosprezar
Aquela gente
Que mora na Zona Norte
Até hoje chora a morte
Da estrela do lugar

Main source for this post not linked in text:  A Canção no Tempo, 85 anos de músicas brasileiras, vol. 2: 1958 – 1985, by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello.