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


Revendo o passado

Lyrics from “Revendo o passado” by Freire Junior (1926)

Recordar é viver //To remember is to live
Diz o velho ditado  // As the old saying goes
Recordar é sofrer // To remember is to suffer
Saudades do passado // Longing for the past
Um sonho que viveu // A dream that lived
Em nosso coração // In our heart
Um amor que morreu // A love that died
Deixando uma cruel paixão //Leaving behind a cruel passion
Crer num sonho de ilusão //  To believe in an illusory dream
Ver na imaginação// To see in our imagination
A imagem do primeiro amor // The image of our first love
Que tal qual uma flor // That just like a flower
Murchou ao relento // Withered by the elements
No chão… secou…// On the ground… dried up

Quem na estrada do viver // Who on this road of life
Não encontrou alguém // Has never come across someone
Alguém que o fez sofrer // Who made them suffer
A quem se dedicou //Someone they dedicated themselves to
Talvez, quem saber amor… // Who maybe – who knows – they loved
Quem não teve uma paixão // Who’s never had a passion
A mesma ainda tem // That they still hold with them
E vive na ilusão // Living off of the illusion
De ainda de ser feliz // Of one day being happy
Só o destino não quis…// –Just that destiny didn’t will it
Quem não tem no seu passado // Who doesn’t have in their past
As cinzas do seu bem // The ashes of their dear one
No túmulo guardado // Stored away in a tomb
O seu primeiro amor// Their first love
Talvez o derradeiro… // Maybe their last…
Sim… // Yes
Somos todos iguais / We’re all alike
A vida é mesmo assim // And that’s what life is
Desilusões e nada mais. // Disillusions and nothing more

–Commentary —


A beautiful version of “Revendo o passado” on trombone ( made me want to find out more about the song. It turns out it’s a 1926 waltz by Freire Junior, first recorded by Orquestra da Casa Edison; next came this 1933 recording by one of Brazil’s greatest seresteiros, Augusto Calheiros.

Calheiros was born in Macéio, Alagoas, in northeastern Brazil, in 1891. He moved from Macéio to the larger northeastern city of Recife in 1923, and then to Rio de Janeiro in 1926, where he lived until his death in 1956. He was one of Brazil’s most popular singers during the country’s golden age of radio – the Época de Ouro – in the 1930s and ’40s,.  earning the nickname “Patativa do Norte” after a type of tanager with a delightful song.

Jacob do Bandolim also recorded the song in 1956; Orlando Silva in 1957; Altamiro Carrilho in 1958; Jair Rodrigues in 1981, and Baden Powell, on his album Rio das Valsas, in 1988,  among others.