“Mangueira, Não” and “Silenciar a Mangueira, Não”

“Mangueira, Não” by Herivelto Martins and Grande Otelo (1943)

They destroyed Praça Onze
They demolished plazas and roads, I know
They can even do away with Estácio, grand old Estácio de Sá
Knock down all the morros, tear down my shack
But silence Mangueira, no!
Mangueira was a morro born dancing samba
And lived singing
Mangueira was born, Mangueira became…
Let me hear you, tamborim! Let me hear you, percussion!
Nobody will be able to say Mangueira passed away
Mangueira can’t die!

— Interpretation —

Cartola, pictured here on Morro da Mangueira, was   not happy with the message sent by "Mangueira, Não" and wrote a version of his own the following year.
Cartola, pictured here on Morro da Mangueira, was not happy with the message sent by “Mangueira, Não” and wrote a version of his own the following year.

Herivelto Martins and Grande Otelo were loyal fans of the samba school Mangueira, as this song from November 1943, makes clear.

Praça Onze was destroyed to make room for Avenida Presidente Vargas, which was inaugurated in September 1944.
Praça Onze was destroyed to make room for Avenida Presidente Vargas, which was inaugurated in September 1944.

In the song, they mention the destruction of Praça Onze, an act the pair had immortalized about a year earlier in one of Brazil’s most well-known sambas, “Praça Onze.” Praça Onze de Junho  hosted Rio’s first samba gatherings and samba school parades in the 1910s – 1930s; it was demolished to make way for Avenida Presidente Vargas in the beginning of the 1940s.

In this song, Grande Otelo and Herivelto Martins acknowledge that Praça Onze is gone — fine — and say for all they’re concerned Estácio, Rio’s first samba school, can go too; but not Mangueira. But as it turns out, the pair’s dismissive attitude toward other samba schools in “Mangueira, Não” was not a big hit. The next year, Estácio samba school held a party in honor of Mangueira, and for the occasion, Cartola, one Mangueira’s founders, composed a samba by almost the same name – “Silenciar a Mangueira, Não” – that stood up for other schools in the name of tradition and friendly competition, since “one swallow does not a summer make.” The original samba ended at “…old Estácio de Sá.” Monarco added the rest of the lyrics in his 1980 recording, one of just two recordings of the song.  (The other is from 2002.)  Pastoras (feminine of pastor, left in Portuguese in the translation below) are what the women singing the chorus in rodas de samba are often called.

Appropriately, the most famous recording of this song ended up being by Monarco, a celebrated samba composer from Portela samba school:

“Silenciar a Mangueira, Não” by Cartola (1944)

Silence Mangueira, no
Someone said one swallow alone does not make summer, either
We need to have adversaries, like Oswaldo Cruz
The proverb says it’s from dispute that light is born
A school that shouldn’t go anywhere
Is the old Estácio de Sá, old Estácio de Sá
In Mangueira, poetry lives in our heart
A poet put it this way
To see Mangueira is tradition
Mangueira has Cartola
In Estácio, Ismael
Portela had Paulo, who was our God in the sky
Silence Mangueira, no
If you go to Mangueira, where beauty seduces
Send a big hug, sent from Oswaldo Cruz
Don’t despair, pastora, listen to what my samba says
If you fight for Mangueira, one day you’ll be happy

 Lyrics in Portuguese

“Mangueira, Não”

Acabaram com a Praça Onze
Demoliram praças e ruas, eu sei
Podem até acabar com o Estácio
O velho Estácio de Sá
Derrubem todos os morros
Derrubem meu barracão
Silenciar a Mangueira, não!

Mangueira foi um morro
Que nasceu sambando
Mangueira foi um morro
Que viveu cantando

Mangueira nasceu…
Mangueira se fez…
Fala tamborim!
Fala bateria!

Ninguém há de dizer
Que Mangueira faleceu
Mangueira não morre!

“Silenciar a Mangueira, Não”

Silenciar a Mangueira, não
disse alguém
uma andorinha só
não faz verão também
devemos ter adversários
como Oswaldo Cruz
diz o provérbio
da discussão é que nasce a luz
uma escola que não devia acabar
era o velho Estácio de Sá
em Mangueira a poesia
mora em nosso coração
um poeta assim dizia
ver Mangueira é tradição
a Mangueira tem Cartola
no Estácio, Ismael
a Portela tinha o Paulo
que era o nosso deus no céu
se tu fores à Mangueira
onde a beleza seduz
leva um abraço apertado
lembrança de Oswaldo Cruz
não desanime, pastora
ouça o que o meu samba diz
se lutares pela Mangueira
um dia serás feliz

Main source for this post: Grande Otelo: uma biografia, by Sérgio Cabral and conversation with Jairo Severiano.

Sei lá, Mangueira

Lyrics from “Sei lá, Mangueira” Music by Paulinho da Viola, Lyrics by Hermínio  Bello de Carvalho

Seen like that, from above
It looks more like the sky on the ground
What do I know…
In Mangueira, poetry made a sea, spread out
And the beauty of the place…
To be understood it must be believed
That life isn’t only what we see
It’s a little more
That our eyes aren’t able to perceive
And our hands don’t dare to touch
And our feet refuse to step on
What do I know, I don’t know …
What do I know, I don’t know…
I don’t know if all the beauty I speak to you about
Really just comes out of my heart alone
In Mangueira, poetry, in a constant rise and fall
Walks barefoot, teaching us a new way of life
Of dreaming, thinking and suffering
What do I know, I don’t know… What do I know, I don’t know…
Mangueira is so great That there’s no way explain it

— Interpretation —

Hermínio Bello de Carvalho and Paulinho da Viola. The pair also composed "Timoneiro" together, another of Paulinho's most famous sambas.
Hermínio Bello de Carvalho and Paulinho da Viola. The pair also composed “Timoneiro” together, another of Paulinho’s most famous sambas.

Another song celebrating the samba school Mangueira, “Sei lá, Mangueira” was written by Hermínio Bello de Carvalho, whose friend Paulinho da Viola composed the music.

Hermínio Bello de Carvalho (b. 28/3/1935) is a poet, composer, musical producer and cultural activist. In his early 20s he wrote music education programs for the Ministry of Education’s Rádio MEC, and he published his first book in 1962. When Cartola and his wife opened their restaurant, Zicartola, in Rio de Janeiro in late 1963, Hermínio became a regular. He developed friendships and formed close working partnerships with legendary musicians, including some of Mangueira’s founding members like Cartola and Nelson Cavaquinho. Hermínio is known for having discovered and provided support and encouragement to some of Brazil’s greatest talents.  In the beginning of 1964, when Paulinho da Viola was working at a bank in Rio de Janeiro, Paulinho recognized Hermínio – a client – from the music sessions Paulinho’s father had taken him to at Jacob do Bandolim’s place. Paulinho, normally timid, went to talk to Hermínio, who invited him to his apartment. Paulinho played some of his first sambas for Hermínio.  Shortly thereafter, Hermínio invited Paulinho to Zicartola, where he began playing regular gigs; Paulinho soon quit his job at the bank.

When Paulinho composed the music for “Sei lá, Mangueira,” he at least claims he never imagined that Hermínio would submit the song to the 1968 Festival da Record. The song didn’t win the contest — though Elza Soares, who sang it, was voted best female singer in the contest — but its fame caused trouble for Paulinho, a member of Mangueira’s rival samba school, Portela.  In the documentary Meu Tempo É Hoje, he says that he accepted the task of composing the music because he thought it would be a nice gesture to contribute to a song celebrating his rivals.  Most portelenses didn’t agree, though, which was awkward. (Paulinho says his friends at Portela generally skirted the issue, but he felt tension.) In an attempt to smooth things over, and prove his loyalty and passion for Portela, Paulinho wrote what became his best-known and loved samba, dedicated to Portela: “Foi um rio que passou em minha vida.” Released in 1969, “Foi um rio que passou em minha vida” was the number one song in Brazil in 1970. In 2000, Brazil’s most influential television network – Rede Globo – named the song one of the thirty most influential Brazilian songs of the 20th century.