Lyrics from “Cordas de aço” by Cartola; first recorded on Cartola II (1976)
Ah, essas cordas de aço // Ah, these steel strings
Este minúsculo braço // This minuscule arm*
Do violão que os dedos meus acariciam // Of the guitar that my fingers caress
Ah, este bojo perfeito // Ah, this perfect body
Que trago junto ao meu peito // That I carry close to my heart
Só você violão // Only you, guitar
Compreende porque perdi toda alegria // Truly understand why I lost all of my joy
E no entanto meu pinho // And nevertheless, my pine
Pode crer, eu adivinho // You can believe, I divine:
Aquela mulher // That woman
Até hoje está nos esperando // To this day is waiting for us
Solte o teu som da madeira // Let your song out of that wood
Eu você e a companheira // You and I and our lady
À madrugada iremos pra casa cantando // Will go back home singing at dawn
— Commentary —
Cartola‘s fellow Mangueirense composer Nelson Sargento famously pronounced: “Cartola didn’t really exist; he was a dream we had,” (Cartola não existiu, foi um sonho que a gente teve) and sambas like this one lend credence to his claim. Cartola first recorded this beautiful homage to the guitar and the companionship of a musical instrument on his second LP, Cartola II (1976). Luiz Melodia (1988), Beth Carvalho (1991), Gal Costa (1992), and Ney Matogrosso (2002), among others, went on to record the song.
*Arm in Portuguese is used for the part of the guitar that is called the neck in English.
Lyrics from “Tempos idos” by Cartola and Carlos Cachaça (1961)
Os tempos idos// Times long past
Nunca esquecidos // Never forgotten
Trazem saudades ao recordar // Fill me with saudades as I remember
É com tristeza que eu relembro // It’s with sorrow that I reminisce about
Coisas remotas que não vêm mais // Long ago affairs that won’t return
Uma escola na Praça Onze // A school in Praça Onze
Testemunha ocular // An eye witness…
E perto dela uma balança// And near it, a scale
Onde os malandros iam sambar // Where the malandros would dance samba
Depois, aos poucos, o nosso samba // Then, little by little, our samba –
Sem sentirmos se aprimorou // without our noticing – grew refined
Pelos salões da sociedade // Into society’s ballrooms
Sem cerimônia ele entrou // Without pomp, it entered
Já não pertence mais à Praça // It doesn’t belong to the Praça anymore
Já não é mais samba de terreiro // It’s no longer samba de terreiro
Vitorioso ele partiu para o estrangeiro // Victorious, it departed for abroad
E muito bem representado // And very well represented
Por inspiração de geniais artistas // By the inspiration of brilliant artists
O nosso samba, humilde samba // Our samba – humble samba –
Foi de conquistas em conquistas // Went from one triumph to another
Conseguiu penetrar no Municipal // Was even able to penetrate the Municipal (Theatre)
Depois de percorrer todo o universo // And after crossing the entire universe
Com a mesma roupagem que saiu daqui // In the same trappings as it left here
Exibiu-se para a duquesa de Kent no Itamaraty // Put on a show for the Duchess of Kent in Itamarati
— Commentary —
“Um dos julgadores não devia gostar de mim ou de Cartola. Deu zero, e a contagem era 1 a 5.” [One of the judges must have had something against me or Cartola. He gave us a 0 on a scale of 1 to 5.]
— Carlos Cachaça commenting on this samba’s loss in Mangueira’s 1961 samba selection process.
This samba by Cartola and Carlos Cachaça traces a nostalgic history of the genre, contemplating the more commercial direction it had taken by the beginning of the 1960s.
The pair composed the samba for Carnaval 1961, at the urging of some of Mangueira’s head honchos, who wanted Cartola more involved with the school he’d helped to found decades earlier. But the song lost in the school’s Carnaval samba selection to an easily forgotten samba with a faster beat. Disheartened, Cartola swore off composing sambas-de-enredo for good.
At the time, Cartola was renewing his ties with Mangueira after having all but vanished from the morroand Rio de Janeiro’s samba scene in the late 1940s and early ’50s. A succession of misfortunes had led him away from Mangueira: In 1946, at 38, he had a life-threatening case of meningitis, which left him incapacitated for about a year (and inspired his samba “Deus, grande deus“); shortly after, he lost his wife Deolinda. He moved away from Mangueira to Caju with a stormy new love interest, Donária, leaving even his guitar behind. He only made his way back to his old neighborhood when he began his best-known romance, with Zica, whom he’d grown up with in Mangueira — and who was Carlos Cachaça’s wife’s sister.
Meanwhile, in the decades that followed Mangueira’s founding in 1928, samba had grown increasingly popular as a national genre, in step with the quick expansion of the radio industry in Brazil. Through the voices of radio stars like Francisco Alves and Mario Reis, sambas composed in Rio’s poorest morros became popular among middle-class listeners in Rio’s upscale Zona Sul and across Brazil (see “Divina dama” and “Perdão meu bem,” both Cartola, below). Almost all financial returns, unsurprisingly, went to these radio crooners and industry insiders who made dubious deals to purchase the sambas; the composers continued to live in deep poverty as their songs rippled over radio waves across the vast country. One of several odd jobs Cartola kept to earn a meager living was as a painter, which is why he wore the famous hat responsible for his nickname.
Noel Rosa was also a crucial figure in bringing elements of samba from the morros to Rio’s more upscale neighborhoods. And with the increasing popularity of the genre among well-heeled Brazilians, more middle-class composers like Ary Barroso, João de Barro, Lamartine Babo, Dorival Caymmi and Assis Valente emerged into the samba spotlight, and artists like Carmen Miranda popularized their sambas abroad. This further reduced the space for composers from Rio’s samba seedbeds.
Marginalized in this regard in the ascension of the genre they’d helped create, sambistas do morro also quickly lost any say in the same samba schools they had founded. When the municipal government of Rio de Janeiro included the samba schools’ Carnaval parades on its official calendar in 1935, it set in motion a process that gradually took the spirited communal parade in a dramatically direction from its origins in Praça Onze. In the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, the desfile became increasingly commercial, with a greater focus on promoting the artists of each schools’ floats and ultimately the schools’ financiers, rather than local samba composers.
What’s more, in the early ’40s, Praça Onze — where the first samba school displays took place in the late 1920s and early ’30s, and where malandro sambistas would hold dance-offs on the scale Cartola mentions in this song, a weigh station for animal-traction vehicles — was destroyed to make way for an expansion of Avenida Presidente Vargas, inaugurated in 1944.
The “school at Praça Onze” that Cartola mentions in the song is GRES Estácio de Sá, which started out as Deixa Falar. It’s widely recognized as Rio’s pioneer samba school, whose sambistas modified the genre in the late 1920s to make it easier to samba and parade to – “samba de sambar do Estácio.” Ismael Silva, one of the most prominent samba composers from the school, also took credit for for the name “samba school” itself, recalling that when they founded Deixa Falar, there was a school nearby, and he said, “We’ll be the professors of samba!” While Portela was out the Central train line in distant Oswaldo Cruz, Mangueira and Deixa Falar were friendly neighbors near the praça: “We would parade on Sundays of Carnaval at Praça Onze and, on Mondays, the sambistas from Estácio would come up the morro do Mangueira; on Tuesdays, Mangueira would go down to Estácio. It was a great friendship,” Cartola recalled.
The destruction of Praça Onzewas symbolic of the fate of composers like Cartola during those years. Largely brushed aside by the music industry, they also saw their Carnaval coopted, with wealthy big-wigs running the show that had begun with ragtag Carnaval corps parading on their own. More and more attention was focused on middle-class Brazilians and tourists, and to appeal to this wider, wealthier audience, schools favored faster, noisier songs (in contrast to more traditional sambas like “Tempos idos”) – the precursors of the incredibly uptempo sambas-de-enredo of the schools today.
A more explicit musical expression of the latter phenomenon can be found in the samba “Terreno baldio” by Marimbondo:
Era um terreno baldio / Que eu mesmo capinei / Com um surdo mal feito de lata / Uma escola de samba fundei / Usei corda na avenida / No desfile principal / Esquentava a bateria / Com pedaço de jornal / A minha escola cresceu / E o terreiro hoje tem cobertura / Quem ficou pequenino fui eu / Diante da nova estrutura / Eu quem fundou a escola / Entre trancos e barrancos / Na galeria de sócios / No lugar do meu nome tem um branco / E vou contar a minha mágoa, minha minha dor / Fui barrado na porta da escola que sou fundador (It was an unused plot of land/ That I myself cleared/ And with a crude surdo made from a can/ Founded a samba school/I paraded in the avenue/ in the main parade/ I warmed up the battery/ With a piece of newspaper/ My school grew/ And the terreiro today has a roof/ I´m the one who grew smaller/ Before that new structure/ I who found (sic) the school/ by fits and starts/ In the gallery of associates/ There’s a blank space where my name should be/ And I´ll tell you my wound, my pain / I was barred at the door of the samba school that I founded).
As “Tempos idos” makes reference to, Portela was Carnaval champion in 1959, and representatives of the school were indeed invited to Itamaraty, Brazil’s foreign ministry, to perform samba for the Duchess of Kent.
Cartola and Carlos Cachaça adopted an almost admiring tone in parts of this song, as if they were slightly proud of samba’s success, but much more deeply saddened by the route and costs of that success. This was the context in which Cartola made a final attempt, with Carlos Cachaça, at composing a samba-de-enredo for his school.
Shortly after, Cartola opened the restaurant Zicartola together with Zica. Though it only functioned from 1963 to 1965, it immediately became a bastion for sambistas of Cartola’s stock, and inspired cultural gatherings and groups like “A Voz do Morro” which were in part responsible for a ressurgence in popularity of samba do morro.
More explanations of terms in the song below:
Praça Onze and its terreiros – as this post mentions – served as the birthplace of carioca samba. The homes in neighborhoods surrounding the praça comprised a large community Afro-Brazilians who had come from Bahia after the end of slavery in 1888, along with Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Heitor dos Prazeres famously said, “Praça Onze was a miniature of Africa,” which led many to refer to the region as Rio’s “Little Africa.” The denomination of Little Africa came to refer to the area from Praça Onze (Cidade Nova) to modern-day Praça Mauá.
Terreiros Terreiro refers to the large patio-like spaces – usually with earthen floors – in these homes where composers would spend sometimes days on end rehearsing their latest sambas and experimenting with new compositions. Terreiro also refers to the similarly characterized space for Afro-Brazilian religious rituals. In the beginning, samba and macumba were almost inextricably linked. One of Carlos Cachaça’s sambas from the late 1920s went, “Eu fui a um samba na casa de Tia Fé/ de samba virou macumba/de macumba candomblé” (I went to a samba at Tia Fé’s/from samba it turned into macumba/ from macumba, candomblé). Originally, samba schools had Orixás that were considered their protectors, which their particular beats paid salute to: Mangueira was Oxóssi, for example, and Salgueiro, Xangô.
In the area surrounding Praça Onze, composers gathered in the terreiros in homes of several Bahian women who were immortalized in the samba world as the tias baianas (Bahian aunties), most famously Tia Ciata. The mixture of musical influences they played around with there — which included deeply African percussion and song alongside melodic and harmonic influences of contemporary European French and Italian composition — came together as samba carioca. (These tias included the mothers of two of Rio’s earliest samba composers: Tia Amélia do Aragão, mother of Donga, and Tia Perciliana de Santo Amaro, mother of João da Baiana.)
Tellingly, as samba and carnaval became more of a lucrative industry, the terreiros took on a more middle-class, secular denomination: “quadras,” or courts.
Scale The scale the song refers to was one of ten installed in the city in response to a 1901 decree that aimed to control overweight animal-drawn carriages. The scale in Praça Onze became better known for serving as a stage for samba competitions, and its name might have provided some symbolic meaning as well, as it was used to “weigh” who was better in their batucada and swing.
Main sources for this post: Cartola: os tempos idos by Marilia T. Barboza; Zicartola, by Mauricio Barros de Castro; Dicionário da História Social do Samba by Nei Lopes and Luiz Antonio Simas; and Uma história de música popular brasileira, by Jairo Severiano.
— 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)
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 syncopatedanymore 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 —
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.”
He 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 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 includingAniceto 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.
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