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 —

claranunes

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.

clara3

“Pra Quem Quiser Me Visitar” & “Rio Orleans”

“Pra quem quiser me visitar” (Guinga & Aldir Blanc, 1996 – tribute to Tom Jobim)

Fiz o meu rancho lá nas nuvens // I made my home up there in the clouds
Onde se pode conversar // Where we can talk freely
onde os anjinhos são cor de chope… // Where the little angels are the color of draft beer
Tomo cuidado só em debruçar // I’m just careful when I lean over
Vendo o mar, aí…// Looking at the sea,…
Toco piano e a virgem canta // I play piano and the virgin sings
Diz pro menino: tio tom // She says to the little boy: Uncle Tom
Senta à vontade, e a coxa santa // She sits casually, and that holy thigh
Me dá saudade de Leblon // Makes me miss Leblon
Sei das manhãs // I know about those mornings
Que só nascem de tarde // That only begin in the afternoon
Entre silêncios de alardes // Between silences of fanfare
Vi que o sol sente inveja das asas do urubu…// I saw that the sun envies the wings of the vulture
Aos meus amigos que ficaram // To my friends who stayed behind
Um portador há de levar //A carrier is sure to bring you
Um par de asas // A pair of wings
E um pára-quedas pra quem quiser me visitar // And a parachute for those who wish to visit me

“Rio Orleans” (Guinga & Aldir Blanc, 1991)

Tonto de gin // Drunk on gin
Vejo a Cinelândia piscar pra mim, sim // I see Cinelândia wink at me, yes
Bebo ao meu fim // I drink to my end
No Amarelinho outra dose de ódio // At Amarelinho, another shot of hatred
Eu sou assim // That’s who I am
Um mocinho triste, de um mau cinema // A sad boy from a bad theater
‘I need’ um sax // I need a sax
Que me conte um tema // That’ll spin a theme for me
‘I want you, I want you…’// “I want you, I want you”
Versos, maio // Verses, May
E essa dor não cede // And this pain that doesn’t give way
Eu vejo, no Rex // I see, at the Rex
O amor que se perde // Love that’s lost
Na beira-mar mais gins // On the seaside avenue, more gins
E o Rio é New Orleans // And Rio is New Orleans
A alma canta um blues // My soul sings a blues
”cause I love you’ // Cause I love you
”cause I love you’ // Cause I love you
Longe um radio // From afar, a radio
Vem no vento // Drifts in on the wind
Diz que ‘I remember you’ // It says I remember you

— Commentary —

guinga-1

“Eu fui e sou um fruto do rádio. Minha paixão é o radio. Meu professor de música que tem sido até hoje meu maior professor é o rádio.”

Today, June 10, is Guinga’s 65th birthday. Guinga is one of Brazil’s greatest composers and guitar players, and his two greatest musical partnerships have been with two of MPB’s most extraordinary lyricists of all time: Paulo César Pinheiro and Aldir Blanc.  And just as Guinga says he uses tributes to his many musical idols as an excuse to write songs — like the tribute to Tom Jobim above, which he composed with Aldir Blanc shortly after Jobim’s death — I like to use composers’ birthdays as an excuse to write posts about them.

Born in the samba stronghold of Madureira, Rio de Janeiro, Guinga — born Carlos Althier de Souza Lemos Escobar — went directly to Jacarepagua, where he grew up. The neighborhood, he likes to mention, was home to “Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, and Candeia,” three of the greatest names in the history of Brazilian popular music.

Shortly after he was born, an aunt gave him the nickname Guinga. She died a few months later, and he says he says her role in his life was to give him his nickname, which apparently is a corruption of the word “gringo” because of his pale skin.  His father was a sergeant in the air force and his mother was a “woman of the home, as they used to say.”  Guinga spent his childhood listening to serestas and modas – genres closely related to choro – on the radio with his parents. He calls himself “a fruit of the radio … my music professor, to this day my greatest teacher, is the radio.”

Guinga learned guitar through observation. When he was a boy his parents separated and he went to live with a great aunt, whose son – ten years older than Guinga – played guitar late into the night, irritating Guinga, who wanted to sleep. He recounts that one day he picked up the guitar and right off the bat was able to play a bit of samba: “I snatched up the [guitar] that day and have never let go of it since.”

Guinga c. 2001 at his dental practice.
Guinga c. 2001 at his dental practice.

Guinga was never one for studying music or reading much of anything, saying he only read what he needed to to become a professional dentist. (Throughout his musical career he has continued to see dental patients twice a week.) He says he feels he gets the same pleasure and spiritual liberation from music that he thinks many people find through reading. He entered formal music studies briefly as a teenager, but they only lasted about two months; he didn’t have the discipline or motivation to learn to play other composers’ music, he claims. From that point on he focused on developing his compositions.

Cartola, Roberto Nascimento, Cláudio Jorge, Milton Manhães, Joel Nascimento, Guinga & João Nogueira (clockwise from left)
Cartola, Roberto Nascimento, Cláudio Jorge,Milton Manhães,
Joel Nascimento,  Guinga  & João Nogueira (clockwise from left)

His first chance to compose came when he was 14. A local composer and dentist, Paulo Faia, wanted to get revenge on another neighborhood musician who had refused to write music for his lyrics. So Guinga composed the music for the song called “Pescador” (Fisherman), and found it surprisingly easy. Upon meeting Paulo César Pinheiro a few years later, around age 18, Guinga says he realized that what he wanted to do – and what he was best at – was compose music first and then have a lyricist write the words; he says working with a lyricist as brilliant as Paulo César Pinheiro, he grew “addicted” to this songwriting process.

Guinga quickly became friends with and played with some of the world’s best-known sambistas, like Cartola and Nelson Cavaquinho, having played guitar on Cartola’s first recording of “O mundo é um moinho.”

Guinga-10menorGuinga cites many musical idols, including Villa-Lobos (“The epitome of everything; a phenomenon, not a composer”); Tom Jobim (“the epitome of 20th century popular composition”); Ary Barroso (“Tom Jobim’s ‘musical father'”); Pixinguinha; Ernesto Nazareth; Jacob do Bandolim; Garoto; Moacyr Santos; Baden Powell, Chico Buarque, etc: “Brazilian music is full of geniuses.” And Duke Ellington is another favorite: Guinga jokes that Duke Ellington would have been the greatest popular composer of the 20th century if a boy named Tom Jobim hadn’t been born in Brazil.

He recalls his first recorded composition was “Conversa com o coração,” which he composed with Paulo César Pinheiro and which MPB-4 recorded and released in 1974.  Clara Nunes, the tremendous portelense singer who was married to Paulo César Pinheiro, also recorded several of Guinga’s songs shortly after MPB-4, and he credits MPB-4 and Clara Nunes with having launched him as a professional composer.

Guinga released his first solo album only in 1991, after Ivan Lins and Vitor Martins opened Velas recording studio in part to give Guinga the chance to record his compositions. Singers Leila Pinheiro and Fatima Guedes have recorded several albums of Guinga’s compositions, including Leila’s Catavento e Girassol, which Guinga says he counts as his and Aldir Blanc’s, too.

Chico Buarque declared Guinga’s  “O Silêncio de Iara” (2003, with Luis Felipe Gama) to be “the song of the century”; many have said about the same of “Senhorinha” (1995, with Paulo César Pinheiro).

Accustomed to the songwriting process that he began with Paulo César Pinheiro, Guinga has fewer instrumental compositions,  and he says most of them were either “inspired by or written in tribute to” his musical idols; they include this homage to Duke Ellington:

Here is Guinga at Berklee School of Music a couple years ago playing “Catavento e Girassol

Futuros Amantes

Lyrics from “Futuros Amantes” by Chico Buarque (1993)

(After the song in this video Chico comments on Brazilian songs about love and heartbreak, mentioning some of his favorites.)

Don’t get flustered, nothing needs to happen right now
Love’s in no hurry, it can wait in silence
Buried deep in a bureau
In the poste-restante
Millennia, millennia up in the air
And who knows maybe then Rio will be some submerged city
The deep sea divers will come to explore your home
Your room, your things, your soul, your garrets
Wise men in vain will try to decode the echo of ancient words
Fragments of letters, poems, lies, portraits
Vestiges of an unknown civilization
Don’t get flustered, nothing needs to happen right now
Loves will always be lovable
Future lovers, perhaps, will love one another
Without realizing it
With the love that one day I left for you

— Interpretation —

"Futuros Amantes" was released on the 1993 album Paratodos. His mug shot is from when he was arrested in 1961, at age 17, for allegedly trying - together with a friend - to take a car that wasn't theirs for a joyride in São Paulo.
“Futuros Amantes” was released on the 1993 album Paratodos. Chico’s mug shot on the album cover is from when he was arrested together with a friend in 1961, at age 17; the two were allegedly trying to take a car that wasn’t theirs for a joyride in São Paulo.

In this clip, Chico Buarque explains how he composed this song:

Chico with his wife Marieta in the 1980s. They were married for over thirty years and have three daughters.
Chico with his wife Marieta in the 1980s. They were married for over thirty years and have three daughters together.

“I was playing around on the guitar and started to compose the melody, and the first thing that came to my mind was ‘submerged city’ – totally isolated from everything else. As I hummed along to what I was playing, it seemed like the song should say that, so then I had to follow that idea and explain the submerged city — create a story around it. Then I came up with the divers, and this love delayed, or put on hold — this idea that love stays around forever, and is something someone can take advantage of much later. It never goes to waste. Time passes, millennia go by, and that love sticks around — even under water — for other people to use it.” (Hence, “Loves will always be lovable.”) “It’s love that was never put to use, right, because it’s love that wasn’t reciprocated. It’s love that was left on its own, unpaired, just kind of floating around waiting for someone to grasp it and put it to good use – to carry out its purpose.”

 

Lyrics in Portuguese

Não se afobe, não
Que nada é pra já
O amor não tem pressa
Ele pode esperar em silêncio
Num fundo de armário
Na posta-restante
Milênios, milênios no ar

E quem sabe, então
O Rio será
Alguma cidade submersa
Os escafandristas virão
Explorar sua casa
Seu quarto, suas coisas
Sua alma, desvãos

Sábios em vão
Tentarão decifrar
O eco de antigas palavras
Fragmentos de cartas, poemas
Mentiras, retratos
Vestígios de estranha civilização

Não se afobe, não
Que nada é pra já
Amores serão sempre amáveis
Futuros amantes, quiçá
Se amarão sem saber
Com o amor que eu um dia
Deixei pra você