Cordas de aço

Lyrics from “Cordas de aço” by Cartola; first recorded on Cartola II (1976)


Ah, essas cordas de aço // Ah, these steel strings
Este minúsculo braço // This minuscule arm*
Do violão que os dedos meus acariciam // Of the guitar that my fingers caress
Ah, este bojo perfeito // Ah, this perfect body
Que trago junto ao meu peito // That I carry close to my heart
Só você violão // Only you, guitar
Compreende porque perdi toda alegria // Truly understand why I lost all of my joy
E no entanto meu pinho // And nevertheless, my pine
Pode crer, eu adivinho // You can believe, I divine:
Aquela mulher // That woman
Até hoje está nos esperando // To this day is waiting for us
Solte o teu som da madeira // Let your song out of that wood
Eu você e a companheira // You and I and our lady
À madrugada iremos pra casa cantando // Will go back home singing at dawn

— Commentary —

cordas de aço
Cartola‘s fellow Mangueirense composer Nelson Sargento famously pronounced: “Cartola didn’t really exist; he was a dream we had,” (Cartola não existiu, foi um sonho que a gente teve) and sambas like this one lend credence to his claim. Cartola first recorded this beautiful homage to the guitar and the companionship of a musical instrument on his second LP, Cartola II (1976). Luiz Melodia (1988), Beth Carvalho (1991), Gal Costa (1992), and Ney Matogrosso (2002), among others, went on to record the song.

*Arm in Portuguese is used for the part of the guitar that is called the neck in English.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“O mundo é assim” – “Nascer e florescer” – “Quantas lágrimas”

Lyrics from “O mundo é assim” by Alvaiade (first released in 1975) and “Nascer e florescer” by Manacéia (first released in 2000)


“O mundo é assim”

O dia se renova todo dia // The day starts anew every day
E eu envelheço cada dia e cada mês // While I grow older by the day and by the month
O mundo passa por mim todos os dias // The world passes through me every day
Enquanto eu passo pelo mundo uma vez // While I pass through the world only once
(2 x)
A natureza é perfeita // Nature is absolute
Não há quem possa duvidar // No one can question that
A noite é o dia que dorme // Night is the day in slumber
O dia é a noite ao despertar // Day is the night upon waking

“Nascer e florescer”

Não tenho ambição neste mundo, não // No, I have no ambition in this world
Mas sou rico, da graça de Deus // But I’m rich, by the grace of god
Tenho em minha vida um amor de valor  // In my life I have a love of great worth
E meu tesouro encantador// My enchanting treasure
Sei que reclamas em vão // I know you object in vain
Porque não tens a compreensão // Because you don’t understand
Que o mundo é bom // That the world is good
Para quem sabe viver // For those who know how to live
E se conforma com que Deus lhe dá // And accept what god gives them
A nossa vida é nascer e florescer // Our life is to be born and to bloom
Para mais tarde morrer // To then go on to die

— Commentary —

Velha Guarda da Portela
Front row, L-R: Alvaide, Manacéia, Osmar do Cavaquinho and Olímpio da Cuíca. Velha Guarda da Portela, 1970s.

Alvaiade (Oswaldo Silva) was one of Portela’s most important composers in the school’s early years. A trusted friend of founder Paulo da Portela, Alvaiade took a leading role in the school after Paulo’s bitter departure in 1941. He was one of few early portelenses born and raised in the school’s largely rural (at the time) neighborhood, Oswaldo Cruz; many others, including Paulo, had moved out to Oswaldo Cruz from the central port area of Rio after urban reforms reduced the housing supply in the early 1900s. (For more on that, see this post.)

Like Manacéia, Alvaiade had a special talent for composing exquisite, poignant lyrics using the simplest language, giving voice to the “wisdom of the people,” as the Portela website boasts.

Brazil was introduced to Alvaiade’s fellow portelense Manacéia through the 1970 album Portela Passado de Glória,  produced by Paulinho da Viola. The album compiled fourteen unreleased, decades-old sambas by some of the school’s founders and earliest composers —  including Manacéia’s “Quantas Lágrimas” — and officially launched the Velha Guarda da Portela as a group in itself.  Four years later, Cristina Buarque, Chico Buarque’s sister, achieved national recognition – and greater recognition for Manacéia – with her recording of “Quantas Lágrimas” on her first solo album, Cristina. From the 1940s until his death in 1995, Manacéia was one of the school’s most esteemed composers, alongside his brothers Mijinha and Aniceto da Portela, and “Quantas Lágrimas” became a lasting favorites of the Velha Guarda:

Ah, quantas lágrimas eu tenho derramado// Oh how many tears I’ve shed
Só em saber que não posso mais // Just for knowing that I can’t
Reviver o meu passado // Relive my past
Eu vivia cheio de esperança // I used to be so full of hope
E de alegria eu cantava eu sorria // and joy; I sang, I smiled
Mas hoje em dia eu não tenho mais // But these days I no longer have
A alegria dos tempos atrás // That joy of days gone by (2x)
Só melancolia os meus olhos trazem // My eyes carry only melancholy
Ai quanta saudade a lembrança traz // Ah how much saudade memory brings
Se houvesse retrocesso na idade // If there were a way to turn back age
Eu não teria saudade // I wouldn’t miss
Da minha mocidade….// My youth..

Carinhoso

Lyrics from “Carinhoso” by Pixinguinha and João de Barro (1936)

Meu coração// My heart,
Não sei por que// I don’t know why
Bate feliz// Beats happily
Quando te vê// When it sees you
E os meus olhos ficam sorrindo// And my eyes can’t stop smiling
E pelas ruas vão te seguindo// And, through the streets, they go on following you
Mas mesmo assim// But even so
Foges de mim// You avoid me

Ah! se tu soubesses como eu sou tão carinhoso// Ah, if you only knew how loving I am
E o muito e muito que te quero// And just how much I want you
E como é sincero meu amor// And how sincere my love is
Eu sei que tu não fugirias mais de mim// I know you wouldn’t run from me anymore
Vem, vem, vem, vem // Come, come, come, come…
Vem sentir o calor dos labios meus// Come feel the warmth of my lips
À procura dos teus// Seeking yours
Vem matar esta paixão// Come quench this passion
Que me devora o coração// Which devours my heart
E só assim, então// And only then
Serei feliz, bem feliz// Will I be happy – very happy

–Commentary —

Partitura Carinhoso
Pixinguinha’s score for a 1947 orchestration of “Carinhoso”
Pixinguinha composed “Carinhoso” in 1917, at age 19, but since it didn’t conform to the strict standards for choro at the time (it had only two parts, while the standard was three, following the same structure as polka) he set it aside for over ten years.
“Carinhoso” was first released in December 1928 by the Orquestra Típica Pixinguinha-Donga, and was recorded two more times in its instrumental version, by the Orquestra Victor Brasileira in 1929 and by the mandolinist Luperce Miranda in 1934 – both times registered mistakenly as “Carinhos.”
Heloísa Helena_1937
Heloísa Helena, the actress and singer who requested that her friend Braguinha put lyrics to Carinhoso for her performance in the 1936 show “Parada das Maravilhas”

Still, the song that would go on to become “the song of the 20th century,” in the words of Paulinho da Viola, didn’t make much of an impact until Braguinha (Carlos Alberto Ferreira Braga, also known as João de Barro) composed the lyrics in 1936, upon request by the actress and singer Heloísa Helena.

Helena wanted a new song to perform with the show Parada das Maravilhas, and she suggested that Braguinha add lyrics to “Carinhoso.” Braguinha agreed, and immediately went to see Pixinguinha and hear him play “Carinhoso” at the dance hall El Eldorado (now Centro Cultural Carioca). That same night, he hurriedly wrote lyrics for the song that went on to become perhaps the best-known and one of the ten most recorded MPB songs of all time.
 In the documentary Paulinho da Viola: Meu Tempo é HojePaulinho da Viola remarks,”[Carinhoso] was written in 1917 and traversed the century to such an extent that in any Brazilian bar if someone picks up a guitar and starts playing, everyone is able to sing along.”
Braguinha’s biographer Jairo Severiano observes that the lyrics are nothing too special – not among Braguinha’s best, which is not surprising considering the rush with which he wrote them. And top radio voices Francisco Alves and Carlos Galhardo passed up the opportunity to record the song before it was offered to Orlando Silva,  who recorded “Carinhoso” along with Pixinguinha’s beautiful waltz “Rosa,” with lyrics by Otávio de Souza, in 1937. At the time, even Orlando Silva apparently wasn’t too convinced by the lyrics: he reportedly requested alternative lyrics from the composer Pedro Caetano.
But after the resounding success of the recording, Orlando Silva claimed in several interviews that he was the one who had requested that Braguinha put lyrics to the song. Both Pixinguinha and Braguinha denied this claim.
Source for this post: Yes, nós temos Braguinha by Jairo Severiano (1987)