“Vento de maio” (1966) and “Vento de maio” (1979)

“Vento de maio” by Gilberto Gil (music) and Torquato Neto (lyrics), 1966 



Oi você, que vem de longe // Hey you [girl] who’s come from so far away
Caminhando há tanto tempo // Been walking for so long now
Que vem de vida cansada // You, arriving tired of life
Carregada pelo vento // Carried in by the wind
Oi você, que vem chegando // Hey you, who’s just getting here
Vá entrando, tome assento // Come on in, take a seat
Desapeie dessa tristeza // Dismount from that sorrow
Que eu lhe dou de garantia // Cause I give you this guarantee
A certeza mais segura // With the utmost certainty
Que mais dia, menos dia // That one of these days
No peito de todo mundo vai bater a alegria // Joy will beat in everyone’s chest
Oi, meu irmão, fique certo // Hey, my brother, be confident
Não demora e vai chegar // It won’t take long and is sure to come
Aquele vento mais brando // That gentler wind
E aquele claro luar // And that bright moonlight
Que por dentro desta noite // That within this night
Te ajudarão a voltar // Will help you make your way back
Monte em seu cavalo baio // Get up on your bay horse
Que o vento já vai soprar // Cause the wind’s about to blow
Vai romper o mês de maio // The month of May is gonna break
Não é hora de parar // It’s not the time to stop
Galopando na firmeza // Galloping on steadily
Mais depressa vais chegar // You’ll get there more swiftly


“Vento de maio” by Telo Borges & Márcio Borges (1979) 


Vento de maio rainha de raio estrela cadente // Wind of May, queen of rays, falling star Chegou de repente o fim da viagem  // Suddenly the end of the trip has arrived
Agora já não dá mais pra voltar atrás // Now there’s no going back
Rainha de maio valeu o teu pique // Queen of May, your insistence served
Apenas para chover no meu piquenique // only to rain on my picnic
Assim meu sapato coberto de barro // Leaving my shoe covered in mud
Apenas pra não parar nem voltar atrás // only to keep me from stopping or going back
Rainha de maio valeu a viagem // Queen of May, the trip was great
Agora já não dá mais… // Now it can’t go on
Nisso eu escuto no rádio do carro a nossa canção // But meanwhile I hear our song on the car radio
Sol girassol e meus olhos abertos pra outra emoção // Sun, sunflower, and my eyes open for another emotion
E quase que eu me esqueci que o tempo não pára // And I almost forgot that time doesn’t stop
Nem vai esperar // Nor will it wait
Vento de maio rainha dos raios de sol // Wind of May, queen of the sun’s rays
Vá no teu pique estrela cadente até nunca mais // Go on get lost falling star, until never
Não te maltrates nem tentes voltar o que não tem mais vez // Don’t mistreat yourself or try to go back to what no longer has a chance
Nem lembro teu nome nem sei // I don’t even remember your name, I don’t even know
Estrela qualquer lá no fundo do mar // Just one of those stars in the depths of the sea
Vento de maio rainha dos raios de sol // Wind of May, queen of the sun’s rays
Rainha de maio valeu o teu pique // Queen of May, your insistence served
Apenas para chover no meu piquenique // only to rain on my picnic
Assim meu sapato coberto de barro // Leaving my shoe covered in mud
Apenas pra não parar nem voltar atrás // only to keep from stopping or going back

— Commentary —

Torquato & Gil, 1960s.
Torquato & Gil, late 1960s.

Torquato Neto wrote the lyrics for the first “Vento de maio” here in partnership with Gilberto Gil just before the Tropicália movement they were such an important part of took off.

Gil, Ana Duarte and Torquato at Torquato's wedding in 1966.
Gil, Ana Duarte and Torquato at Torquato’s wedding in 1966.

Neto (November 9, 1944 – November 10, 1972) was a lyricist, poet and journalist born in the arid northeastern Brazilian city of Teresina, Piauí.  He was fascinated with poetry and activism from a young age: At eleven, he requested the complete works of Shakespeare from his parents; at fifteen, he was kicked out of his school in Teresina for his political rabble-rousing. Neto then spent three years studying in Salvador (1960-63), where he first became acquainted with the Bahian musicians Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Caetano Veloso and Caetano’s sister, Maria Bethânia, and Gal Costa, along with the Bahian lyricist and poet José Carlos Capinan, who would also become a pivotal player in Tropicália.

Chico_TorquatoIn 1965, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso moved to São Paulo and spent a lot of time between there and Rio, and that’s when their collaboration with Neto really got going. In 1966, Elis Regina and Jair Rodrigues recorded Neto’s and Gil’s “Louvação,” and the song became Neto’s first big hit as a lyricist. That same year, Wilson Simonal released “Vento de Maio”, and in 1967 it became an even bigger success with Nara Leão’s recording of the song as the title track of her album.

Torquato Neto, Caetano Veloso, and José Carlos Capinan.
Torquato Neto, Caetano Veloso, and José Carlos Capinan.

1967 was the year that Tropicália blasted onto the Brazilian music scene, beginning with Caetano’s “Alegria, Alegria” and Gil’s “Domingo no Parque.” On the seminal collaborative album from that movement — Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis (1968) — three of the biggest hits had lyrics by Neto: the Tropicália anthem “Geleia Geral,” with Gil; and “Mamãe Coragem” and “Deus vos salve esta casa santa,” with Caetano; that year, with Gil, Neto also released the hit “Marginalia II.”

Torquato Neto at Rio's D'Engenho de Dentro Psychiatric Hospital.
Torquato Neto at Rio’s D’Engenho de Dentro Psychiatric Hospital.

It’s no coincidence that Neto died a day after his twenty-eighth birthday. He committed suicide after struggling with depression throughout his twenties, leaving a note with a flurry of disconnected thoughts that ended by asking those who found him not to wake his three-year-old son.

 

 

 

– “Vento de Maio” (Telo Borges & Márcio Borges, 1979) –

L-R:  Mané Buxa, Milton Nascimento, Jaceline (on floor), Lô Borges, Célio Cabral, Telo Borges, Duca Leal and Márcio Borges at Milton Nascimento's house in Três Pontas, Minas Gerais, 1971.
L-R: Mané Buxa, Milton Nascimento, Jaceline (on floor), Lô Borges, Célio Cabral, Telo Borges, Duca Leal and Márcio Borges at Milton Nascimento’s house in Três Pontas, Minas Gerais, 1971.
Milton Nascimento in the middle and Telo Borges at right in Belo Horizonte in 1973, celebrating 35 years of marriage for the Borges's parents.
Milton Nascimento in the middle and Telo Borges at right in Belo Horizonte in 1973, celebrating 35 years of marriage for the Borges’s parents.

“Vento de maio” (1979) is Telo Borges‘s first recorded composition. Telo, born January 22, 1958, is the younger brother of Márcio Borges (b. January 31, 1946)  and Lô Borges (b. January 10, 1952). The older Borges brothers became famous when Telo was still just a kid, through their participation in Brazil’s famed music festivals of the late 1960s.  Their careers especially took off in the early 1970s, after their release of the groundbreaking 1972 album Clube da Esquina alongside Milton Nascimento and other clube da esquina (“corner club”)  musician pals from Minas Gerais. In this song, Telo makes several references to the song “Um girassol da cor do seu cabelo” from that album, by Lô Borges and Márcio Borges (and one of the first songs on this blog). References include “our song comes on the radio, sol, girassol“; “just one of those stars in the depths of the sea”; and even the way the song revolves around wind and solar rays : “Girassol…” begins with “vento solar e estrela do mar” (solar wind and starfish).

Around the time Clube da Esquina was released, Telo began to spend his vacations at Milton’s house in Rio, and participated in the recording of Milton’s 1973 album Milagre dos Peixes. At age 17 he composed “Vento de maio,” which he says was about a romance he was living at the time. Elis Regina recorded the song together with Lô Borges on her 1980 LP Elisbringing greater recognition to Telo, who went on tour with Lô that year as part of the Projeto Pixinguinha.

 

 

Beatriz

“Beatriz” by Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque (1983)

Look
I wonder if she’s a maiden
I wonder if she’s sad
I wonder if it’s just the contrary
I wonder if it’s painting
The face of the actress

If she dances in the seventh heaven
If she believes it’s another country
And if she just learns her part by heart
And if I were able to become part of her life

Look
I wonder if she’s made of china
I wonder if she’s made of ether
I wonder if it’s madness
I wonder if it’s a stage set
The home of the actress

If she lives in a skyscraper
And if the walls are made of chalk
And if she cries in a hotel room
And if I were able to become part of her life

Yes, take me for forever, Beatriz
Teach me not to walk with my feet on the ground
Forever is always just barely
So tell me how many disasters are in my hand
Tell me if it’s dangerous for us to be happy

Look
I wonder if it’s a star
I wonder if it’s a lie
I wonder if it’s a comedy
I wonder if it’s divine
The life of the actress
If one day she falls from the sky
And the paying crowd demands an encore
And if the archangel passes around a hat
And if I were able to become part of her life

— Interpretation —

OGrandeCircoMistico01
Original show bill for O Grande Circo Místico
Edu Lobo (L) and Chico Buarque
Edu Lobo (L) and Chico Buarque

Edu Lobo composed the music for this waltz quickly, “certain it would turn out well”; Chico Buarque, on the other hand, labored over the lyrics, and “Beatriz” ended up being one of the last songs the pair completed for the soundtrack for the 1983 musical “O Grande Circo Místico,” a production by the dance company Balé Guaíra, from Paraná state. The show was based on the 1938 surrealist poem by the same name by Jorge de Lima; Lima’s poem had been inspired by the story of the Knie family circus, born of an unlikely love story in Austria in the 19th century.

Each song on the "Grande Circo Místico" album came with its own illustration by Naum Alves de Souza
Each song on the “Grande Circo Místico” album came with its own illustration by Naum Alves de Souza

Lima’s poem is about Agnes, an acrobat an Austrian aristocrat falls in love with. In Chico’s lyrics, Agnes becomes Beatriz, an actress, drawing inspiration from Dante’s Beatrice in the Divine Comedy, with whom Dante ascends to the seventh heaven.  In a 1989 interview Chico commented that these kinds of commissioned projects are only worthwhile when “you can be unfaithful to what was requested”: In this case, Chico just wasn’t able to come up with lyrics about Agnes the acrobat – even though he observed that Agnes is a “beautiful name.”

So the song became “Beatriz,” and Chico and Edu were certain “Beatriz” should be sung by Milton Nascimento because of the facility with which Nascimento can hit a wide range of notes and jump into falsetto, as the song demands.  Milton recorded in the studio alone with the pianist Cristóvão Bastos, and the third take was the one they kept.  Long after the recording was completed, Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque realized that by beautiful coincidence, the lowest note in the song falls on the word “chão” (ground) and the highest note, on “céu” (sky).

Lyrics in Portuguese

Olha
circo3Será que ela é moça
Será que ela é triste
Será que é o contrário
Será que é pintura
O rosto da atriz

Se ela dança no sétimo céu
Se ela acredita que é outro país
E se ela só decora o seu papel
E se eu pudesse entrar na sua vida

Olha
Será que é de louça
Será que é de éter
Será que é loucura
Será que é cenário
A casa da atriz
Se ela mora num arranha-céu
E se as paredes são feitas de giz
E se ela chora num quarto de hotel
E se eu pudesse entrar na sua vida

Sim, me leva pra sempre, Beatriz
Me ensina a não andar com os pés no chão
Para sempre é sempre por um triz
Aí, diz quantos desastres tem na minha mão
Diz se é perigoso a gente ser feliz

Olha
Será que é uma estrela
Será que é mentira
Será que é comédia
Será que é divina
A vida da atriz
Se ela um dia despencar do céu
E se os pagantes exigirem bis
E se o arcanjo passar o chapéu
E se eu pudesse entrar na sua vida

Grande Circo - Aecio o circo

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.