This week I had some of my friends watch "A Dog's Will" or, as I much prefer, in portuguese, O Auto da Compadecida (Guel Arraes, 2000). They overall enjoyed it, specially the beginning, with the sick dog, and the Judgement scene, which none of them expected (can't blame them) but whose uniqueness got the best reviews. I decided then to bring up a bit more of Brazilian culture, and chose 9 of my favorite songs. It's worth mentioning that these songs depict only my own personal taste and childhood memories; they're in no way representative of Brazil's great variety and diversity. I made this choice because it's then easier for me to comment the songs, and therefore if you enjoy them, I definitely encourage you to go search for other ones, entering more deeply into this wonderful new universe.
1- Não vou me adaptar - "I won't adapt myself", by Titãs
My mother's favorite song, it talks about a man who one day wakes up and realizes how much he's aged. He doesn't recognize himself anymore and sees that he's never actually done anything worth existing for. The refrain goes on: "Have I said what no one was listening to? Have I heard what no one was saying? I won't adapt myself." I love this song because it depicts the biggest fear of any young dreamer, to waste their life, and those who've passed the phase of dreams know it's a feeling that doesn't simply let go. We'll all experience it one moment or the other, for Time will always pass faster than we expect it to.
2- De Papo pro Ar - sorry, can't translate ("With My Belly Up"??), by Ney Matogrosso
Much more cheerful than the last one, De Papo pro Ar is about living your life without worries. If the earth provides you with everything you need, there's fish in the water and a constant warm tropical wind blowing, why work? I wish I could translate this song but it would be a complete butchery; a key word is Saudade, which is the feeling of missing someone, an expression that only exists in Portuguese, plus the dozens of slangs. Just know that this saudade is fought off by lying on your back and playing the viola. Most of all, enjoy the feel-good rhythm and Ney's dancing.
3- Eduardo e Monica - "Eduardo and Monica" (pretends to be chocked), by Legião Urbana
This song is special because, like it was in times long-gone, it tells a story. The band has another one much more complex, Faroeste Caboclo (10min long), but Eduardo e Monica is the one everybody knows by heart. It talks about a boy and girl who fall in love, even though she's 5(?) years older than him and a lot wiser. Only the prologue and the epilogue are the same: "Who will ever say that the tricks the heart plays on us have a purpose? And who will ever tell the opposite, either?" I have a feeling Eduardo and Monica are by now part of our folklore, even though remains the mystery of how a 2-year-old child failed in school (check the lyrics in English below!)
4- Aquarela - "Fadeaway", by Toquinho
Every Brazilian child has 3 traumas related to this song: 1) dancing it in kindergarten 2) not being able to draw a castle with 5 or 6 lines 3) everything is going well AND THEN SUDDENLY THE BOY GETS OLD WHAT THE HECK. Like Não Vou Me Adaptar, the song is about aging, and I feel my throat clenching every time it says: "And the future is a starship that we all try to control; it knows no time and has no pity, and has no schedule to arrive; it changes our lives without our permission and then invites us to smile or to cry." Yes, it's a song turned to children that praises the wonders of imagination, but it also has one very intense twist that will certainly strike those more lived. And, even with all the traumas, it's not a song to stop listening to.
5- Metamorfose Ambulante - "Walking Metamorphosis", by Raul Seixas
It's not the first time I've talked about this song. I love the idea of being constantly open to Change, how to keep the same opinion is just not to consider new factors. To accept your own contradictoriness, for otherwise you'd be defined by a few thoughts and how dull would that be? It's what Taoism preaches, to turn yourself into an empty bowl and let it be filled by the Tao, for the Tao is everything and if you took sides, you'd be restricting yourself to experience only half of all that there is. Maybe it's a luxury most people can't afford themselves nowadays, it's necessary to hold on to some opinion or else you lose your voice completely, but it's a nice dream.
6- A Banda - "The Band", by Chico Buarque and Nara Leão
This song made it's way into my list because, as I child, it was my favorite one. My father enjoyed listening to Geni and the Zeppelin, which I hated with all my little disturbed heart (I'll let you search the lyrics by yourself), and so I'd change for The Band, which is very sweet, hopeful, and not R-rated. It's about a small village that receives a marching band and then everyone stops what they're doing to listen to it. "My suffering people bid goodbye to sorrow to watch the band pass, singing themes of love. The sad girl smiled, the little rose flowered, the old man thought he was young again and danced. But after the band had passed, everything was back to its place, each one to their corner and in each corner a sorrow." It's a great song to sing-along, and I have vivid memories of listening to it after school, on my way back home.
7- Asa Branca - "White Wing", by Luiz Gonzaga
I wouldn't be considered Nordestina (from the North-East) if I didn't mention this song. It talks about life in the sertão, a poor, arid region in the North-Eastern countryside. There's only a short period of rain throughout the whole year, and when it doesn't come, the earth burns, the gardens and the cattle die, and the asa branca, a bird, leaves it. The departure of the bird tells the singer that it's time for him to leave it too and search for life somewhere else. He then bids goodbye to his sweetheart Rosinha and waits for when it rains again to come back. "When the green of your eyes spreads through the gardens, I assure you, don't cry, that I'll be back, my love." This song is important because it evidences a situation many times ignored by the rest of Brazil, the harsh conditions faced by the sertanejo, at the same time that the composer professes his love for the land where he was born. Besides, the rhythm, the accent and the words are very proper of this specific region, giving its people a voice.
8- Alegria, Alegria - "Happiness, Happiness", by Caetano Veloso
From 1964 to 1985, Brazil lived a dictatorship and many singers used their talent to protest against the government, hiding messages in their songs so they would pass the censorship. There're many metaphors in Alegria, Alegria and it's possible to make a long analysis of its lyrics, but remaining in the surface, I love the sense of freedom it brings. "Walking against the wind, no handkerchief no ID, I go..." Going without a destination, unattached, just living, why not?
PS: the handkerchief part, in Portuguese it's sem Lenço Sem Documento, which some people affirm is a reference to the LSD drug (I just find this information interesting for some reason).
9- Epitáfio - "Epitaph", by Titãs (yes, again)
I leave this song for last because there's a particular stanza I've been thinking about for a good time now. "I wish I had accepted people the way they are; each of us know the happiness and the pain that bring in the heart." I think about it because I've realized that's my fatal flaw. I quickly make assumptions about people, and I believe a situation that might exemplify it is my relation to one of my cousins. She thinks I have no feelings because I never show them. I think she's frivolous because were her feelings true, she wouldn't show them as easily, and had her more depth, she would see beyond my silence. Clearly we're both wrong. (She will say she actually sees right through me and only says what she says to annoy me -- shhhh let me romanticize!). Let people be the way they are. "Even those who don't read?", I ask myself, and the answer's absolutely yes. It's such a difficult quest. There's not one thing that determines the other person's value, and you don't get to decide whether the reasons they cry for are good enough or not. Each person is the only one who knows the weight they have to carry, and we all share this common solitude. Maybe it should be enough for us all to relate. I'm usually so condescending to characters, it's time to show real people this same patience. And I invite you all to think about it too. Most of the time, when you judge someone, you don't realize you're doing so, and when you do, you think you've got the right reasons. Think again.
Well, this is my list, hope you enjoyed and, as I said, this is just a drop of water in the ocean, meant to give you a small taste and leave you wishing for more. :)