“Pelas ruas da cidade” & “Reserva de domínio”

“Pelas ruas da cidade” – Paulo César Pinheiro (1980)

Ando pelas ruas da cidade // I stroll down the city streets
Meio abandonado de carinho// Rather forsaken of love
Como a lamentar a mocidade// As if lamenting the youth
Que desperdicei pelo caminho// That I wasted along the way
Ando pelas ruas da cidade// I stroll down the city streets
Só, mas livre como um passarinho//Alone, but free as a bird
Tenho no meu peito uma saudade que me dói// I carry in my breast a saudade that hurts
Mas prefiro viver sozinho// But I prefer to live alone
Inda relembro as minhas horas de felicidade// I still remember my moments of happiness
E como joguei tudo fora sem necessidade// And how I threw it all away for nothing
Mas nada do que eu fiz na vida// But nothing that I did in life
Foi contra a vontade// Was against my will
Duro é ter nos ombros// It’s hard to bear on your shoulders
O peso da idade// The weight of age
Nem feliz nem triste// Neither happy nor sad
Só sem novidade// Merely with nothing new to tell
Ando pelas ruas da cidade// I stroll down the city streets

Reserva de Domínio” – Mauro Duarte & Paulo César Pinheiro (1985)

Um coração tão machucado como o meu// A heart as hurt as mine
Não tem mais força pra aguentar uma outra dor // No longer has the strength to stand a new wound
já está cansado de aventuras // it’s tired of wild affairs
foram tantas amarguras // there’ve been so many bitter stories
tá difícil de encarar um novo amor // it’s hard to face a new love
Mas sei que muitas insistências vão surgir // But I know that many demands will emerge
Com a carência que hoje existe por aí // With the loneliness that’s around today
Pois a alma aflita pelo tédio // Because the soul afflicted with tedium
Mediante a tanto assédio // Under such assail
Se também se descuidar vai sucumbir // Must take care, or it will succumb as well
Mas tem que suportar// But one needs to just bear it
sem se preocupar // Without paying any mind
Com as palavras atiradas pelo chão // to the words tossed on the ground
Com promessas pertubando o coração // to promises disquieting the heart
São juras e mais juras desvairadas // There are vows, and more frantic vows
Que eu presumo aparecer// That I suspect will surface
Mas pra não sofrer // But so as not to suffer
Tenho que me armar // I need to arm myself
Pro domínio não perder // So as not to lose control
Sei que água mole em pedra dura // I know that soft water on hard rock
Tanto bate até que fura // Beats until it bores through
É o que não pode acontecer //And that’s just what can’t happen

— Commentary-

Mauro Duarte and Paulo César Pinheiro’s friendship and musical partnership brought about some of the most beautiful MPB songs. Mauro also introduced Paulinho Pinheiro to Clara Nunes, his wife and muse until her untimely death in 1983.

Paulo César Pinheiro is best known for his ingenious lyrics for songs written with brilliant composers like Baden Powell, Mauro Duarte, Mauricio Tapajós, Eduardo Gudin, Guinga, João Nogueira, and many more of the most renowned names in Brazilian popular music of the past fifty years.

But he recalls that his partner Mauro Duarte observed that he often revised the melodies he was working with, either working on them with his partners or tweaking and adding to them after he’d received them.

One day as Paulinho and Mauro worked on a song together, Mauro remarked, “You’re doing just about everything alone, why don’t you start composing songs on your own, without a partner? You know how to do it, chefia.”  

Mauro’s suggestion rattled around in Paulinho’s head until one day, as he rambled down the beach in Leblon, he began whistling a tune, recalling and mimicking phrases he’d heard Copinha play on the flute. He quickly ended up with a beautiful tune for a samba, and says by the time he got home, he had the whole song written in his head, and ran to record it. That was the first of over 150 songs Paulo César Pinheiro went on to compose on his own, a beautiful response to the coaxing of his close friend and partner Mauro Duarte.

In turn, a few years later, Pinheiro came up with a tune that everyone loved but that he just couldn’t find words for. No theme came to him; it was as if he had a block with that specific melody. Mauro would sing the tune back to Paulinho when they met up, and ask him eagerly about how the lyrics were coming along. So Paulinho decided to challenge Mauro the same way Mauro had challenged him: “Why don’t you write the lyrics? If you like this samba so much, and are in such a hurry, take a pen to it.”

Mauro accepted the challenge. A little over a week later he brought the song back to Paulinho, bashfully apologizing for the lyrics before he sang them, saying he wasn’t sure if they’d turned out ok. Paulinho grew nervous: he didn’t want to hurt his friend’s feelings.

But as Mauro sang, Paulinho recalls, “He gave me goosebumps. He’d gotten it so perfectly right. The lyrics were beautiful. I was surprised and content, and he even more so. And that’s how, for the first time, on a melody of mine, the lyrics were written by someone else.”

Source for this post: Paulo César Pinheiro: Histórias das Minhas Canções

Um ser de luz

Lyrics from “Um ser de luz” by Paulo César Pinheiro, Mauro Duarte, & João Nogueira (1983)

Um dia // One day
Um ser de luz nasceu // A being of light was born
Numa cidade do interior // In a country town
E o menino Deus lhe abençoou // And the divine infant blessed her
De manto branco ao se batizar // In a white blanket upon being baptized
Se transformou num sabiá // She became a sabiá
Dona dos versos de um trovador // Mistress of the verses of a troubadour
E a rainha do seu lugar // And queen of her place

Sua voz então a se espalhar // Her voice then, spreading out
Corria chão // Covered land
Cruzava o mar // Crossed the sea
Levada pelo ar // Carried by the air
Onde chegava espantava a dor // Wherever it arrived it scared pain away
Com a força do seu cantar // With the power of its song

Mas aconteceu um dia // But one day
Foi que o menino Deus chamou // The divine infant beckoned
E ela se foi pra cantar // And she went to sing
Para além do luar // Over beyond the moonlight
Onde moram as estrelas // Where the stars live
E a gente fica a lembrar // And we always remember
Vendo o céu clarear // Watching the sky brighten
Na esperança de vê-la, sabiá // In the hopes of seeing her, sabiá

Sabiá // Sabiá
Que falta faz sua alegria // Oh how your cheer is missing here
Sem você, meu canto agora é só // Without you, my song is just
Melâncolia // Melancholy

Canta meu sabiá,// Sing my sabiá
Voa meu sabiá // Fly my sabiá
Adeus meu sabiá…// Goodbye my sabiá
Até um dia… // Until some day…

— Commentary —


Today – August 12, 2015 – would have been Clara Nunes’s 73rd birthday.

Clara Nunes & Paulo César Pinheiro.
Clara Nunes & Paulo César Pinheiro.

Paulo César Pinheiro recalls meeting Clara Nunes around 1974, through his friend and partner Mauro Duarte. Paulo and Clara married in 1975, and remained married until Clara’s death on April 2, 1983, at age 40.

Clara, who came to Rio from rural Minas Gerais as a teenager, recorded over 20 of Paulo’s compositions, becoming the “mistress” of his verses. Shortly after her death, together with Mauro Duarte and João Nogueira, Paulo wrote “Um ser de luz.” A couple of notes: A sabiá is a thrush with a beautiful song, the national bird of Brazil; “Menino Deus” was one of Paulo’s songs that Clara sang; “in a country town” refers to Clara’s childhood in Minas Gerais.



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

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

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

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 —

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

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

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

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