Saci

Lyrics from “Saci” by Guinga and Paulo César Pinheiro (1993)

Quem vem vindo ali // Who’s on his way here
É um preto retinto e anda nu // Is a jet-black boy, and he’s naked
Boné cobrindo o pixaim // Cap covering his ‘fro
E pitando um cachimbo de bambu // And puffing on a bamboo pipe

Vem me acudir // He’s coming to see me
Acho que ouvi seu assovio // I think I heard his whistle
Fiquei até com cabelo em pé // My hairs even stood on end
Me deu arrepio, frio // I got the goosebumps, chills

Quem vem vindo ali // Who’s on his way here
Tá capengando numa perna só // Is hobbling on just one leg
Só pode ser coisa ruim // This can’t be good
Como bem dizia minha vó // Just like my grandma used to say

Diz que ele vem // They say he’s coming
Montado num roda-moinho // Riding a whirlwind
Já sei quem é, já vi seu boné // I know who it is, I’ve caught a glimpse of his cap
Surgir no caminho // On the way

Quando ele vê que eu´me benzi // When he sees that I’ve crossed myself
E que eu me arredo, cruz credo // And that I’m moving away, goodness be
Solta uma gargalhada // He’ll let out a cackle
Some na estrada // Vanish down the road
É o Saci // It’s Saci

— Commentary —

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Saci in Tico-Tico, 24 June 1931

Dear Readers: Ever since I started a PhD program (in Brazilian history!), I’ve barely had time to post. But I’m going to keep trying! Please send requests. I wanted to do a quick post in honor of “Dia do Saci,” and it’s hard to go wrong with a song by Guinga and Paulo César Pinheiro.

Dia do Saci: Halloween keeps getting bigger in Brazil. But since 2003, October 31 has officially been “Dia do Saci,” in honor of the little one-legged rascal from Brazilian folklore. He emerged from Tupi-Guarani folklore in the south of Brazil, and was incorporated into slave fables. Saci is never without his magic red sock hat and pipe, and can’t stop getting into mischief. Legend has it that he lives in whirlwinds and can be caught with a net; upon capture, his hat must be removed to ensure his obedience. Sacis are born in bamboo shoots, where they live for seven years before emerging to wreak playful havoc for the next seventy-seven years. When they die, they turn into mushrooms.

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“Halloween? I want nothing to do with it!” — “Today’s our day! Hey Hey Hey!”

Saci Day was declared in Brazil’s Federal Law 2.762, in 2003. It was part of a bill presented by Rio de Janeiro’s deputy Chico Alencar (PSOL) in an effort to celebrate Brazilian folklore rather than traditions imported from abroad – in this case, the celtic celebration of Halloween, imported from the United States.

Three years ago for this occasion I posted “Sasaci-Pererê” (Jorge Ben).

There is some debate in Brazil regarding racial stereotypes in depictions of Saci, particularly regarding those of the tremendously popular children’s author Monteiro Lobato.

Here’s Monica Salmaso’s beautiful version of the song:

Lupicínica

Lyrics from “Lupicínica” by Aldir Blanc and Jayme Vignoli (2005)

___

Amei // I loved
uma enfermeira do Salgado Filho // A nurse from Salgado Filho
paixão passageira, sem charme nem brilho // A short-lived passion, without charm or splendor
roteiro batido, romance na tarde // A time-worn script, afternoon romance

E aí, numa seresta na Dois de Dezembro // And then, in a seresta on Dois de Dezembro
me perguntaram por ela: “-Nem lembro…” // They asked me about her, “I don’t even remember,”
eu respondi com um sorriso covarde// I replied with a sheepish grin

Ouvi – que bofetada! – “Morreu duas vezes // Then I heard – what a blow! –  “She died two times –
Uma aqui e agora, a outra há seis meses” // One here and now, the other six months ago”
Balbuciei: “-Morrida ou matada?” // I stammered, “Died or was killed?”

“-Depende do seu conceito de assassinato // “Depends on your understanding of murder
Um pobre amor não é amor barato // A poor love isn’t cheap love
Quem fala de tudo não sabe de nada.”// He who who talks about everything doesn’t know anything”

Na rua do Tijolo, bloco 5, aquele de esquina // On the rua do Tijolo, block 5, that one on the corner
morou uma enfermeira com a chama vital de Ana Karenina // Died a nurse with the vital flame of Ana Karenina

Dirá um dodói que Tolstói era chuva demais pra tão pouca planta // Some nut will say that Tolstoy is ‘too much rain for such little plant’
Ô trouxa, heroínas sem par podem brotar na Rússia ou lá em Água Santa…// Oh fool, heroines beyond compare can sprout up in Russia or out in Água Santa

Aquela mulher que dosava o soro nas veias dos agonizantes // That woman who administered serum into the veins of those in agony
não teve sequer um calmante pra dor sem remédio que aflige os amantes // Had not a single sedative for that pain without remedy that afflicts lovers

Por mais que a literatura celebre figuras em vã fantasia // As much as literature might celebrate figures in empty fantasy
ninguém foi mais nobre que a Pobre da Enfermaria // None was nobler than that Poor lady of the Infirmary

— Commentary —

 

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Aldir Blanc at his home in Tijuca.

Today, September 2, 2017, is Aldir Blanc‘s 71st birthday, and for the occasion I decided to translate this beautiful song he composed with Jayme Vignoli and released on Vida Noturna (2005). “Lupicínica” serves as yet another testament to Aldir’s exquisite talent for perfectly portraying the grace and grit of life in Rio in his lyrics. In “Lupicínica,” he characteristically weaves together elements of high culture (Tolstoy in this case) and vignettes that depict crude minutia of a working-class existence in Rio’s north zone and exalt its obscure protagonists. There’s plenty on Aldir’s poetic style in previous posts on Aldir, though, so here I’ll just explain a little about this song. Salgado Filho, as you can guess, is a hospital in Méier, a middle/lower-middle-class suburb of Rio de Janeiro; the neighborhood Água Santa is poorer and farther out. Dois de Dezembro is a road in Rio’s more upscale Flamengo neighborhood, and with “Rua do Tijolo” Aldir could be referring to the street by this name in the suburb of Piedade, or to the street where a big condominium complex – Tijolinho – is located in Vila Isabel.  The tale of passion, scorn and death in this song recalls themes common to Lupicínio Rodrigues’s songs; I’m guessing that may be the inspiration for the name.

Jayme Vignoli, who composed the music, is a cavaquinho player, composer and arranger from Rio de Janeiro, a professor at Rio’s Escola Portátil de Música and cavaquinista with several choro groups including Água de Moringa.

Vingança

Lyrics from “Vingança” by José Maria de Abreu and Francisco Matoso; recorded by Gastão Formenti (1935)

___
Lá na beira do roçado // Out at the farmland’s edge
Onde a tristeza não vem // Where sorrow doesn’t reach
Eu vivia sossegado // I lived so serenely
Com a viola do meu lado // With my viola by my side
Mais feliz do que ninguém // Happier than anyone

Numa festa no arra // At a party, at the fairgrounds
Vi dois óio (olhos) me o (olhar) // I saw two eyes gazing at me
Decidi no improviso // I made an improvised move
Ela me deu um sorriso // She gave me a smile
E comigo foi mo // And went to live with me

Nunca mais fui cantadô (cantador) // Nevermore was I a troubadour
E a viola descan (descansou) // And my viola reposed
Eu vivia pra caboca (cabocla) // I lived for the cabocla
Eu vivia pra caboca // I lived for the cabocla
Só pensava em meu a (amor) // I thought only of my love

Nunca fui feliz assim // I’ve never been so happy
Eu mesmo disse pra mim // I said to myself
Pensei que a felicidade // I thought this happiness
Pensei que a felicidade // I thought this happiness
Não pudesse   (ter) um fim // Could never end

Mas um dia a marvada (malvada) // But one day the shrew
Foi-se embora e me esqueceu // Ran off and forgot me
Com um caboco decidido // With a determined caboclo
Juca Antônio, um conhecido // Juca Antônio, a well-known
cantadô mais do que eu // Troubadour, more than I

Já cansado de cho  // Already tired of crying
Eu saí a procu // I went out in search of
A caboca que um dia // The cabocla that one day
Le (levou) minha alegria // Took my joy away
E eu jurei de me vin // And I swore I’d take revenge

Numa festa fui can// I went to sing at a fair
E a mulata tava lá // And the mulata was there
Juro por Nossa Senhora // I swear by Our Lady
Juro por Nossa Senhora // I swear by Our Lady
Que a caboca e quis ma // That I wanted to kill the cabocla

Mas fiquei sem respi// But I was left breathless
Quando vi ela dançá// When I saw her dancing
Ela tava tão bonita // She was so splendid
Ela tava tão bonita // She was so splendid
Que esqueci de me vin // That I forgot to take revenge

— Commentary —

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Gastão Formenti featured in a Carioca magazine piece on the “double lives of several figures from the ‘radiophonic’ world” (23/11/1935). Also featured: a driver for city services, sambista Moreira da Silva.

In 1930, Gastão Formenti, alongside Carmen Miranda, became the first Brazilian singer to sign a radio contract.  Electrical recording technology was introduced in Brazil in 1927, and at the dawn of the 1930s the national radio and recording industries were poised for a boom. Formenti became one of the early stars of that boom. He was a tremendously popular romantic singer that decade, specializing in “melancholy waltzes and nostalgic songs,”  according to a short profile in the review Phono-Arte, the first Brazilian publication focused on music and the recording industry, in print from 1928-’31.

Formenti was born to Italian immigrants in 1894 in the interior of São Paulo, and in this song he employs the caipira (hillbilly) accent associated with that region and the countryside in general. This style, smattered with more Italian-immigrant dialect, became famous a few decades later in sambas by another rural-São-Paulo-born son of Italians, Adoniran Barbosa. I’ve italicized the words/word endings that are sung this way: “oiá” instead of “olhar”; marvadainstead of “malvada,” for instance. Cabocla technically means someone of mixed-blood, with indigenous heritage, but also came to be used just to refer to country folk, as seems to be the case in this song.

Formenti was also an accomplished painter (as the photo above highlights), and after 1941 he began painting more and singing less, exhibiting some of his works in museums in Brazil and abroad.

José Maria Abreu and Francisco Matoso together composed dozens of tremendously popular romantic songs in the 1930s, including one of Brazil’s — and Francisco Alves‘s — all-time favorites, “Boa Noite Amor.”  Such slow waltzes and romantic ballads reigned in Brazil in the 1930s; in the ’40s, they were displaced by the more easily danced samba-canção.

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Insert from Diário A Noite, 1 July 1931.                 L-R: Francisco Alves, Gastão Formenti, Carmen Miranda, and Brenno Ferreira. Seated: Lamartine Babo.

 

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An Odeon advertisement, under the headline “Have you heard the new releases this month?” — January 1930