“Vento de maio” (1966) and “Vento de maio” (1979)

“Vento de maio” by Gilberto Gil (music) and Torquato Neto (lyrics), 1966 



Oi você, que vem de longe // Hey you [girl] who’s come from so far away
Caminhando há tanto tempo // Been walking for so long now
Que vem de vida cansada // You, arriving tired of life
Carregada pelo vento // Carried in by the wind
Oi você, que vem chegando // Hey you, who’s just getting here
Vá entrando, tome assento // Come on in, take a seat
Desapeie dessa tristeza // Dismount from that sorrow
Que eu lhe dou de garantia // Cause I give you this guarantee
A certeza mais segura // With the utmost certainty
Que mais dia, menos dia // That one of these days
No peito de todo mundo vai bater a alegria // Joy will beat in everyone’s chest
Oi, meu irmão, fique certo // Hey, my brother, be confident
Não demora e vai chegar // It won’t take long and is sure to come
Aquele vento mais brando // That gentler wind
E aquele claro luar // And that bright moonlight
Que por dentro desta noite // That within this night
Te ajudarão a voltar // Will help you make your way back
Monte em seu cavalo baio // Get up on your bay horse
Que o vento já vai soprar // Cause the wind’s about to blow
Vai romper o mês de maio // The month of May is gonna break
Não é hora de parar // It’s not the time to stop
Galopando na firmeza // Galloping on steadily
Mais depressa vais chegar // You’ll get there more swiftly


“Vento de maio” by Telo Borges & Márcio Borges (1979) 


Vento de maio rainha de raio estrela cadente // Wind of May, queen of rays, falling star Chegou de repente o fim da viagem  // Suddenly the end of the trip has arrived
Agora já não dá mais pra voltar atrás // Now there’s no going back
Rainha de maio valeu o teu pique // Queen of May, your insistence served
Apenas para chover no meu piquenique // only to rain on my picnic
Assim meu sapato coberto de barro // Leaving my shoe covered in mud
Apenas pra não parar nem voltar atrás // only to keep me from stopping or going back
Rainha de maio valeu a viagem // Queen of May, the trip was great
Agora já não dá mais… // Now it can’t go on
Nisso eu escuto no rádio do carro a nossa canção // But meanwhile I hear our song on the car radio
Sol girassol e meus olhos abertos pra outra emoção // Sun, sunflower, and my eyes open for another emotion
E quase que eu me esqueci que o tempo não pára // And I almost forgot that time doesn’t stop
Nem vai esperar // Nor will it wait
Vento de maio rainha dos raios de sol // Wind of May, queen of the sun’s rays
Vá no teu pique estrela cadente até nunca mais // Go on get lost falling star, until never
Não te maltrates nem tentes voltar o que não tem mais vez // Don’t mistreat yourself or try to go back to what no longer has a chance
Nem lembro teu nome nem sei // I don’t even remember your name, I don’t even know
Estrela qualquer lá no fundo do mar // Just one of those stars in the depths of the sea
Vento de maio rainha dos raios de sol // Wind of May, queen of the sun’s rays
Rainha de maio valeu o teu pique // Queen of May, your insistence served
Apenas para chover no meu piquenique // only to rain on my picnic
Assim meu sapato coberto de barro // Leaving my shoe covered in mud
Apenas pra não parar nem voltar atrás // only to keep from stopping or going back

— Commentary —

Torquato & Gil, 1960s.
Torquato & Gil, late 1960s.

Torquato Neto wrote the lyrics for the first “Vento de maio” here in partnership with Gilberto Gil just before the Tropicália movement they were such an important part of took off.

Gil, Ana Duarte and Torquato at Torquato's wedding in 1966.
Gil, Ana Duarte and Torquato at Torquato’s wedding in 1966.

Neto (November 9, 1944 – November 10, 1972) was a lyricist, poet and journalist born in the arid northeastern Brazilian city of Teresina, Piauí.  He was fascinated with poetry and activism from a young age: At eleven, he requested the complete works of Shakespeare from his parents; at fifteen, he was kicked out of his school in Teresina for his political rabble-rousing. Neto then spent three years studying in Salvador (1960-63), where he first became acquainted with the Bahian musicians Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Caetano Veloso and Caetano’s sister, Maria Bethânia, and Gal Costa, along with the Bahian lyricist and poet José Carlos Capinan, who would also become a pivotal player in Tropicália.

Chico_TorquatoIn 1965, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso moved to São Paulo and spent a lot of time between there and Rio, and that’s when their collaboration with Neto really got going. In 1966, Elis Regina and Jair Rodrigues recorded Neto’s and Gil’s “Louvação,” and the song became Neto’s first big hit as a lyricist. That same year, Wilson Simonal released “Vento de Maio”, and in 1967 it became an even bigger success with Nara Leão’s recording of the song as the title track of her album.

Torquato Neto, Caetano Veloso, and José Carlos Capinan.
Torquato Neto, Caetano Veloso, and José Carlos Capinan.

1967 was the year that Tropicália blasted onto the Brazilian music scene, beginning with Caetano’s “Alegria, Alegria” and Gil’s “Domingo no Parque.” On the seminal collaborative album from that movement — Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis (1968) — three of the biggest hits had lyrics by Neto: the Tropicália anthem “Geleia Geral,” with Gil; and “Mamãe Coragem” and “Deus vos salve esta casa santa,” with Caetano; that year, with Gil, Neto also released the hit “Marginalia II.”

Torquato Neto at Rio's D'Engenho de Dentro Psychiatric Hospital.
Torquato Neto at Rio’s D’Engenho de Dentro Psychiatric Hospital.

It’s no coincidence that Neto died a day after his twenty-eighth birthday. He committed suicide after struggling with depression throughout his twenties, leaving a note with a flurry of disconnected thoughts that ended by asking those who found him not to wake his three-year-old son.

 

 

 

– “Vento de Maio” (Telo Borges & Márcio Borges, 1979) –

L-R:  Mané Buxa, Milton Nascimento, Jaceline (on floor), Lô Borges, Célio Cabral, Telo Borges, Duca Leal and Márcio Borges at Milton Nascimento's house in Três Pontas, Minas Gerais, 1971.
L-R: Mané Buxa, Milton Nascimento, Jaceline (on floor), Lô Borges, Célio Cabral, Telo Borges, Duca Leal and Márcio Borges at Milton Nascimento’s house in Três Pontas, Minas Gerais, 1971.
Milton Nascimento in the middle and Telo Borges at right in Belo Horizonte in 1973, celebrating 35 years of marriage for the Borges's parents.
Milton Nascimento in the middle and Telo Borges at right in Belo Horizonte in 1973, celebrating 35 years of marriage for the Borges’s parents.

“Vento de maio” (1979) is Telo Borges‘s first recorded composition. Telo, born January 22, 1958, is the younger brother of Márcio Borges (b. January 31, 1946)  and Lô Borges (b. January 10, 1952). The older Borges brothers became famous when Telo was still just a kid, through their participation in Brazil’s famed music festivals of the late 1960s.  Their careers especially took off in the early 1970s, after their release of the groundbreaking 1972 album Clube da Esquina alongside Milton Nascimento and other clube da esquina (“corner club”)  musician pals from Minas Gerais. In this song, Telo makes several references to the song “Um girassol da cor do seu cabelo” from that album, by Lô Borges and Márcio Borges (and one of the first songs on this blog). References include “our song comes on the radio, sol, girassol“; “just one of those stars in the depths of the sea”; and even the way the song revolves around wind and solar rays : “Girassol…” begins with “vento solar e estrela do mar” (solar wind and starfish).

Around the time Clube da Esquina was released, Telo began to spend his vacations at Milton’s house in Rio, and participated in the recording of Milton’s 1973 album Milagre dos Peixes. At age 17 he composed “Vento de maio,” which he says was about a romance he was living at the time. Elis Regina recorded the song together with Lô Borges on her 1980 LP Elisbringing greater recognition to Telo, who went on tour with Lô that year as part of the Projeto Pixinguinha.

 

 

A Briga do Edifício Itália e do Hilton Hotel

Lyrics from “A Briga do Edifício Itália e do Hilton Hotel” by Tom Zé (1972)



Good Audio Version (Tom Zé)

The Itália building was the king of Ipiranga Avenue
Tall, majestic and handsome, no one came close to its greatness
But now the Hilton Hotel building showed up
Elegant, modern and charming, stealing attention with its beauty

The Itália building got jealous
And spread the word among friends
That to get so white, the Hilton drinks rice-flour tea
Only wears the latest fashion, dresses up right,
And if he goes up Consolação wearing white
Will cause terror even in the cemetery

The Hilton immediately responded in turn:
This obsession with greatness gets you nowhere
Just look: Sure, I may be affected, but I don’t give people any reason to talk
With you it’s different
Cause in the neighborhood, in spite of your peacockish aplomb,
They’re already calling you Dumb Joe from the corner.

(The Itália building was the king of Ipiranga Avenue
Tall, majestic and handsome, no one came close to its greatness
But now the Hilton Hotel building showed up
Elegant, modern and charming, stealing attention with its beauty)

And the Hilton, grinning, said that the Itália building
Acts like an overblown Samson
And what’s more, he only thinks about money
He doesn’t know what love is, he has a body of steel, a robot’s soul
Because he doesn’t have a heart to speak of
Since what beats in his chest is an adding machine

The Itália building stomped with rage, willed a plague upon Hilton
And even insinuated that the Hilton had been born round to call attention
Flaunted those curves to cause a sensation
And even seemed like a crazy girl, or the Tower of Pisa dressed up as a bride

The Itália building was the king of Ipiranga Avenue
Was the king of Ipiranga Avenue, was the king…

–Interpretation–

Edificio Itália in São Paulo. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Edificio Itália in São Paulo. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The Edifício Itália, on the corner of Avenida Ipiranga and Rua São Luiz in São Paulo, was the center of attention in São Paulo’s center in the late 1960s. It was the tallest building in Latin America when it was inaugurated with plenty of pomp in September, 1965. The Italian immigrant association Círcolo Itáliano had constructed the building to house its new headquarters. Swank and luxurious, Edifício Itália symbolized the progress the Italian community had made since the founding of Círcolo Itáliano in São Paulo in 1911.

But in October, 1971, just down the way, the white, sleek, cylindrical Hilton Hotel was inaugurated — the first international chain hotel to open in Brazil. The pop-rock icon Roberto Carlos sang at its inauguration.

And in Tom Zé’s eyes, the Edifício Itália felt threatened by this fair and modernistic newcomer. Continue reading “A Briga do Edifício Itália e do Hilton Hotel”

Alegria, Alegria

Lyrics from “Alegria, Alegria” by Caetano Veloso (1967)


Original video from Festival Record (1967), apologies for quality

Good Audio Version

Walking against the wind, no kerchief, no ID
Under the near-December sun
I go…
The Sun is divided among crimes
Spaceships, guerillas
And beautiful Cardinales
I go…
In presidents’ faces, in passionate kisses, in teeth, legs, and flags
Bombs and Brigitte Bardot

The sun on the newsstands fills me with joy and laziness
Who reads that much news?
I go…

Among photos and names
Eyes full of color
And breast full of vain loves
I go…
Why not, why not?

She thinks about marriage
I never went back to school
No kerchief, no ID,
I go…

I drink coca-cola, she thinks about marriage
And a song consoles me
I go…

Among photos and names
No books, no rifle
No hunger, no telephone
In the heart of Brazil…

She doesn’t even know that I even thought about singing on TV
The sun is so lovely
I go…

No kerchief, no ID
Nothing in my pockets or hands
I want to go on living love
I will…
Why not, why not…
Why not, why not…  why not, why not…

— Interpretation —

Caetano singing “Alegria, Alegria” with the Argentine rock group the Beat Boys, 1967

“Alegria, Alegria” (“Joy, joy”) is one of the signature songs that launched Caetano Veloso and the nascent Tropicália movement into the spotlight of the Brazilian music scene in 1967. Caetano performed the song  at the legendary 1967 3rd Record Festival of Música Popular Brasileira (inspiration for the film “A Night in ’67”) with the Argentine rock group the Beat Boys, eliciting jeers from purists who rejected any foreign elements in Brazilian music.  At the same festival, Gil sang “Domingo no Parque.” Together, the two songs introduced Brazil to Caetano and Gil’s “universal sound,” which controversially mixed influences from around the globe – most notably, rock and roll – with regional styles and themes,  especially from their home state of Bahia.

Gil and Caetano came in second and fourth place in the festival, respectively, behind Edu Lobo’s “Ponteio” (first place) and Chico Buarque‘s “Roda Viva” (third place), entries that appealed more to the standards of the festival, which generally valued a song’s message over its musical arrangement. But by the end of 1967, “Alegria, Alegria” was at the top of the IBOPE singles chart for record sales, while the winner “Ponteio” was in tenth place.

The metaphor behind the lyrics of “Alegria Alegria” has been likened to a manifesto for the Tropicália movement:

The song follows a transient walking through city streets (presumably Rio de Janeiro, where Caetano was inspired to write the song on a walk through Copacabana).  The wandering narrator takes in the “confusing, fragmented reality of a modern Brazilian city,” full of imported symbols of  modernity. He browses a newsstand selling the counter-culture newspaper O Sol (The Sun). Headlines and images of crimes, bombs, spaceships and leftist guerrilla uprisings – in this case, Che Guevara’s campaign in Bolivia – compete with photos of foreign actresses and sex symbols (Brigitte Bardot and Claudia Cardinale) for the narrator’s attention.

As the list of images goes on, it becomes more fragmented –presidents’ faces, teeth, legs, etc; the narrator, in the meantime, drinks his coca-cola and doesn’t think too much of any of it.  He says the sun fills him with joy and laziness — characteristics typically associated with backward Brazilians (carnavalesque exuberance mixed with laziness), which the military government was ostensibly fighting with its modernization project.  The military regime aimed to bring modernization to the “heart of Brazil” that Caetano refers to, with wildly misguided projects like the Transamazonian Highway; in the meantime, modernization for most people meant this confused influx of mostly superficial symbols and images.

Still, rather than dwelling on bombs or politics, the narrator ponders a potential singing career and how good the summer sun feels. Spurning laws and societal conventions – no ID, little education and ambivalent about marriage – he just wants to go on living and loving freely, without limitations, why not?

The mixture of all of these images in “Alegria, Alegria” – true to life – neutralizes any social message or criticism in the song. Caetano’s “insubordinate juxtaposition” of national and international politics, triumphs and tragedies with completely quotidian concerns, all sung to a simple marchinha tune, are what made the song revolutionary.  In 1967, the public was accustomed to songs with clearer social messages about poverty, violence and political repression; by contrast, “Alegria, Alegria” was scattered and ambiguous. Embracing contradictions and exposing hypocrisies in society, the arts and the artistic process itself became a defining element of Tropicália.

Written in what’s been called a “descriptive-cinematographic style,” the song reflects the influence of Brazilian Cinema Novo and French New Wave cinema on Caetano’s work. Caetano has remarked that after seeing the 1967 Cinema Novo film Terra em Transe, directed by Glauber Rocher, he set out to create the same effect with his music. The style won the  praise and solidarity of concretistas  like the poet Augusto de Campos and the composer Gilberto Mendes, and from the rock music scene — Caetano appeared in the first edition of Rolling Stone magazine in November 1967.

Helio Oiticica’s 1967 mixed-media installation “Tropicália,” the inspiration for the name of Tropicália movement. Source: IG Blog

In 1968, Caetano released his first solo LP, Caetano Veloso (Tropicália), which served to officially baptize the movement,  named after artist Hélio Oiticica’s 1967 mixed-media installation at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo. Though the movement is often  referred to as tropicalismo, Caetano, Gil, et al. preferred Tropicalia because they didn’t want to become just another “ism.”

In this video, Caetano says he considers the song “unsatisfactory,” but is pleased that people like it so much and that it’s had such a strong response.

Lyrics in Portuguese

Caminhando contra o vento
Sem lenço e sem documento
No sol de quase dezembro
Eu vou…

O sol se reparte em crimes
Espaçonaves, guerrilhas
Em cardinales bonitas
Eu vou…

Em caras de presidentes
Em grandes beijos de amor
Em dentes, pernas, bandeiras
Bomba e Brigitte Bardot…

O sol nas bancas de revista
Me enche de alegria e preguiça
Quem lê tanta notícia
Eu vou…

Por entre fotos e nomes
Os olhos cheios de cores
O peito cheio de amores vãos
Eu vou
Por que não, por que não…

Ela pensa em casamento
E eu nunca mais fui à escola
Sem lenço e sem documento,
Eu vou…

Eu tomo uma coca-cola
Ela pensa em casamento
E uma canção me consola
Eu vou…

Por entre fotos e nomes
Sem livros e sem fuzil
Sem fome, sem telefone
No coração do Brasil…

Ela nem sabe até pensei
Em cantar na televisão
O sol é tão bonito
Eu vou…

Sem lenço, sem documento
Nada no bolso ou nas mãos
Eu quero seguir vivendo, amor
Eu vou…

Por que não, por que não…
Por que não, por que não…
Por que não, por que não…
Por que não, por que não…

Main sources for this post include: Tropicália Alegoria Alegria by Celso Favaretto; Brutality Garden by Christopher Dunn; “The Tropes of Tropicality and Tropicalism” by Charles Perrone; and A Canção no Tempo: 85 Anos de Músicas Brasileiras, vol. 2 by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello, and Verdade Tropical by Caetano Veloso.