“Volta por cima” and “Ronda”

Lyrics from “Volta por cima” (1962) and “Ronda” (1967) by Paulo Vanzolini

“Volta por cima”

I cried, I didn’t try to hide it, everyone saw
They pretended to pity me, they needn’t have
There where I cried, anyone would cry
Come back out on top like I did, I’d like to see who could do that

A man of morale doesn’t stay on the ground
Nor does he want a woman to come give him a hand
He acknowledges the fall, but doesn’t despair
He gets up, shakes off the dust and comes back out on top


At night I roam the city looking for you, without finding you
Amidst gazes, I peek into all the bars, and you’re not there
I return home dejected, disenchanted with life
Dreams bring happiness – you’re in them*
Oh if I had someone who cared for me dearly
That someone would tell me, ‘give up, it’s futile’
But I wouldn’t give up
Rather, with perfect patience, I go back to looking, I’m bound to find you
Drinking with other women, rolling dice, playing billiards
And that day, then, it’ll come out in the first edition:
“Bloody scene in a bar on Avenida São João”

— Interpretation —

Paulo Vanzolini, image via veja.abril.com.br.
Paulo Vanzolini, image via veja.abril.com.br.

Paulo Vanzolini died yesterday, April 28th, three days after his 89th birthday, of complications from pneumonia. He was both a beloved samba musician and one of Brazil’s most accomplished and world-renowned scientists – a zoologist specializing in reptiles.

Vanzolini liked to poke fun at himself as a musician, implying that he’d become a popular sambista in spite of himself: “I work as a zoologist 15 hours a day and I love my job,” he told Folha de São Paulo in 1997. “I can’t sing and I don’t even know the difference between minor and major tones.” His air of blithe irreverence and his knack for managing to be at once politically incorrect and entirely lovable made him wildly popular, with the help of course of his compositions like “Volta por cima” and “Ronda,” two of the best known and most requested songs in music venues in his native São Paulo and around the country.
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