O Leãozinho

Lyrics from “O Leãozinho” by Caetano Veloso

Album: Bicho (1977)

I really like seeing you, Little Lion

Walking under the sun

I really like you, Little Lion

To un-sadden, Little Lion, my oh so lonely heart

It’s enough to come upon you along my way

A lion cub, a morning ray of light

Pulling my gaze like a magnet

My heart is the sun, father of all color

When he turns bare skin golden

I like seeing you under the sun, Little Lion

Seeing you enter the sea

Your skin, your light, your mane

I like staying under the sun, Little Lion

Wetting my mane

Being close to you and  carrying on

— Interpretation —

As you can see in the video, Caetano Veloso had a “mane” when he wrote this song.  Caetano wrote the song for Dadi, the similarly bemaned bassist for the Bahian rock-MPB group Os Novos Baianos (whose 1972 album Acabou Chorare was ranked #1 on Rolling Stone’s list of Top 100 Brazilian Albums).

Caetano and Gilberto Gil collaborated with Os Novos Baianos, inviting the group to participate in their 1969 pre-exile performance, Barra 69.  Caetano developed a close friendship with Dadi, who went on to form a new band in 1977,  Cor do Som (Color of Sound).  In an interview with Brazil’s Revista Epoca, Caetano explains that he was inspired by Dadi, a friend whom he adores, “who is beautiful, and was younger and even more beautiful at the time,” and who’s “a Leo, like me.”

Caetano Veloso is recognized as one of the most influential figures in contemporary Brazilian music and the arts, alongside his younger sister, Maria Bethânia.  Born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, in 1942, Caetano went to Salvador for university in the early 1960s, where he quickly began to garner attention as a singer-songwriter. Around the same time, he met fellow Bahian singers Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Tom Ze, and began to perform with them. He went to Rio de Janeiro in 1965 with Maria Bethania, when she was invited to substitute Nara Leão on the show “Espectáculo.”  That year, Caetano was invited to record his first LP, with “Cavaleiro” and “Samba em Paz.” Later, as we saw in the post on Panis et Circenses, Caetano was at the forefront of Brazil’s Tropicalist movement; he has since remained one of Brazil’s most vocal cultural and political activists.

A quick note about the translation: The last line – in Portuguese, “De estar perto de você e entrar numa” – is ambiguous and open to interpretation. “Entrar numa” essentially means become involved some way — flirt, play around, etc.  There’s no precise literal translation, so I’ve left it as “carry on.”

Post by Victoria Broadus (About)