Waters of March

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"Waters of March"
Song
Published 1972
Genre Bossa nova
Writer Antonio Carlos Jobim
Composer Antonio Carlos Jobim

"Waters of March" (Portuguese: "Águas de Março") is a Brazilian song composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Jobim wrote both the English and Portuguese lyrics.[1] The lyrics, originally written in Portuguese, do not tell a story, but rather present a series of images that form a collage; nearly every line starts with "É..." ("[It] is...").[1] In 2001, "Águas de Março" was named as the all-time best Brazilian song in a poll of more than 200 Brazilian journalists, musicians and other artists conducted by Brazil's leading daily newspaper, Folha de São Paulo.[1]

The inspiration for "Águas de Março" comes from Rio de Janeiro's rainiest month. March is typically marked by sudden storms with heavy rains and strong winds that cause flooding in many places around the city. The lyrics and the music have a constant downward progression much like the water torrent from those rains flowing in the gutters, which typically would carry sticks, stones, bits of glass, and almost everything and anything. The orchestration creates the illusion of the constant descending of notes much like Shepard tones.

Lyrics[edit]

In both the Portuguese and English versions of the lyrics, "it" is a stick, a stone, a sliver of glass, a scratch, a cliff, a knot in the wood, a fish, a pin, the end of the road, and many other things, although some specific references to Brazilian culture (festa da cumeeira, garrafa de cana), flora (peroba do campo) and folklore (Matita Pereira) were intentionally omitted from the English version, perhaps with the goal of providing a more universal perspective. All these details swirling around the central metaphor of "the waters of March" can give the impression of the passing of daily life and its continual, inevitable progression towards death, just as the rains of March mark the end of a Brazilian summer. Both sets of lyrics speak of "the promise of life," perhaps allowing for other, more life-affirming interpretations, and the English contains the additional phrases "the joy in your heart" and the "promise of spring," a seasonal reference that would be more relevant to most of the English-speaking world.

When writing the English lyrics, Jobim endeavored to avoid words with Latin roots, which resulted in the English version having more verses than the Portuguese. Nevertheless, the English version still contains some words from Latin origin, such as promise, dismay, plan, pain, mountain, distance and mule. Another way in which the English lyrics differ from the Portuguese is that the English version treats March from the perspective of an observer in the northern hemisphere. In this context, the waters are the "waters of defrost" in contrast to the rains referred to in the original Portuguese, marking the end of summer and the beginning of the colder season in the southern hemisphere.

Uses and reception[edit]

The song was used by Coca-Cola for a jingle in the mid-1980s concurrent with the "Coke is it!" campaign, which ran until 1988, and was most recently the track for a 2008 British Gas advert in the UK and in Italy. In the Philippines, it was also used in the early 90s as the soundtrack for an advertising campaign for the newly developed Ayala Center.[2]

Composer-guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves[3] relates that Jobim told him that writing in this kind of stream of consciousness was his version of therapy and saved him thousands in psychoanalysis bills.

Prof. Charles A. Perrone, an authority on contemporary Brazilian popular music (Música Popular Brasileira -MPB), wrote about the song in his doctoral dissertation (1985), an abridged version of which was published in Brazil as Letras e Letras da MPB (1988). He notes such sources for the song as the folkloric samba-de-matuto and a classic poem of pre-Modernist Brazilian literature.

The song was voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone as the 2nd greatest Brazilian song.[4]

Versions[edit]

1970s[edit]

  • The first recording of this song (Portuguese version) appeared on an EP released in May, 1972, named O Tom de Antonio Carlos Jobim e o Tal de João Bosco. This EP was released as a bonus included in the Brazilian periodical O Pasquim and was never reissued again. This type of vinyl record album was known as a "disco do bolso" ("record for your pocket"). At the time, it was considered more of a novelty promotional item for the magazine rather than one of Jobim's seminal works. For that reason, existing copies of this recording are very rare.
  • The second recording was on Elis Regina's album Elis (1972), which was the first in a series of 3 consecutive self-titled solo albums by Regina.
  • The third recording was on Jobim's seventh album, Jobim (1973, reissued 2000). Album was titled Matita Perê in Brazil without additional English version of song.
  • João Gilberto's recording from João Gilberto (1973) is known for its considerable deviation in rhythm and meter from the original.
  • Italian singer Mina sings it as "La Pioggia di Marzo" ("The Rain of March") (1973) included it in her album Frutta e verdura.
  • Georges Moustaki recorded his version of the song as "Les Eaux de Mars" on the album Déclaration (1973).
  • The definitive, though not first, recording is considered by many reviewers to be the duet sung by Jobim and Elis Regina, from the album Elis & Tom (1974).
  • Stan Getz and João Gilberto recorded a version on their joint album The best of two worlds (1976), with Portuguese lyrics by Gilberto and English lyrics by Miúcha, Gilberto's wife at the time.
  • Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '77 recorded this song on the album Vintage 74 (1974) (Bell Records - Catalog #1305). Jobim played guitar on this track.
  • Art Garfunkel recorded the song on his solo album Breakaway (1975). His recording is similar to the 1973 Jobim recording in inflection, rhythm, and evocation of the song.
  • Jack Parnell recorded the song on his album Braziliana (1977)
  • Mark Murphy recorded this song on the album Stolen Moments (1978).
  • Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '88 recorded this song on the album Brasil '88 (1978) (Elektra 6E-134).

1980s[edit]

  • Jobim and Gal Costa recorded a live English version on the album, Rio Revisited (Verve/Polygram, 1989).

1990s[edit]

  • Susannah McCorkle also released a bilingual version on her album From Bessie to Brazil (1993). It was repeated in her album Most Requested Songs (2001)
  • Atlantique Les eaux de mars (1995).
  • David Byrne and Marisa Monte recorded the song for the benefit compilation album Red Hot + Rio (Polygram Records, 1996).
  • Trio Esperança recorded a Portuguese version on Segundo (1996).
  • The New York City group Cibo Matto performed the song in Portuguese for their EP Super Relax (1997).
  • Monica Vasconcelos performed the song in Portuguese for her album Nois (Movas, 1997).
  • Al Jarreau recorded this song on the album A Twist of Jobim (by various artists, for Polygram Records, 1997).
  • Smoke City recorded a version of this song entitled "Águas de Março (Joga Bossa Mix)" for their album Flying Away (1997).
  • Israeli singers Gidi Gov and Mika Karni recorded a Hebrew version of the song titled "Ve Ha-Geshem Yavo" ("And the rain will come") on Laila Gov 2 (1997).
  • Basia recorded a version that was later included on the release of Clear Horizon: The Best of Basia (1998).
  • Rosa Passos recorded the song in Portuguese on Especial Tom Jobim (1998).
  • Lani Hall recorded the English lyrics version in on her album Brasil Nativo (1998).
  • Paula West recorded a version on her album Restless (1999).
  • Kim Scanlon on Night Songs & Lullabies (1999).

2000s[edit]

  • John Pizzarelli recorded the song three times, first in a duet with Rosemary Clooney on her album Brazil (2000), then on his album Bossa Nova (2004), and then in a duet with his wife Jessica Molaskey on her album Sitting in Limbo (2007). This version combines the song with Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game".
  • Jazz singer Emilie-Claire Barlow performed an English version with partial Portuguese lyrics on her album Tribute (2001).
  • Jazz singer Jane Monheit recorded a version in English on her album Come Dream with Me (2001).
  • Japanese female singer Akiko recorded an English-language version as a duet with jazz-pop act Swing Out Sister in 2002, and released it as a single.
  • Cassandra Wilson recorded the English version on her album Belly of the Sun (Blue Note, 2002).
  • Irish singers Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan recorded a version in Portuguese for the movie Goldfish Memory (2003).
  • Oscar Castro-Neves also has recorded the English version (Mack Avenue Records, 2003).
  • Richard "Bob" Greene, of The Bobs, recorded a version on his solo album Low? Bottom? Me? (2003), with guest vocalist Angie Doctor.
  • Bossacucanova recorded the English version on their album Uma Batida Differente (2004).
  • Utah-based singer Melissa Pace-Tanner included it on her release Am I Blue (2004).
  • Argentinan pop/rock artist Fito Páez recorded the song live 11/6/2002 from Rio de Janeiro. It was released on the live album Mi Vida Con Ellas (2004).
  • Lisa Ono released the song on the album Best 1997-2001 (2004) as a bonus track. It was recorded live at Bunkamura Orchard Hall, Tokyo, on December 8 & 10, 2001.[1].
  • Spanish actress/singer Victoria Abril recorded this song on the album PutchEros do Brasil (2005).
  • Ana Paula Lopes recorded this song on the album Meu (2005).
  • Tok Tok Tok recorded the English version on their album I Wish (2005).
  • Uakti (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) on their CD OIAPOK XUI (2005) included four instrumental arrangements by Marco Antônio Guimarães: 1) "Tema e variação I"; 2) "Variação II"; 3) "Variação III"; 4) "Variação IV"
  • Michelle Mailhot [2] recorded the English version on Happy Madness (2006).
  • David Campbell released the song on the album The Swing Sessions (2006).
  • Filipina bossa nova singer Sitti Navarro recorded her version of "Waters of March" on her album Sitti Live! (2006).
  • Another Filipina singer, Agot Isidro recorded her version featuring Mon David, from her first bossa nova album, The Island (2006).
  • Holly Cole recorded this song on the album Holly Cole (2007).
  • Nachtzuster [3] recorded a Dutch version as "Stortbui in Maart" (2007).
  • Brazilian singer Luciana Souza recorded the English version on her album The New Bossa Nova (Universal Records, 2007).
  • Robert Lamm of the band Chicago recorded a version on a solo album The Bossa Project (2008).
  • American singer Anya Marina released the song on her album Slow and Steady Seduction : Phase II (2008).
  • Sérgio Mendes released Encanto, produced with will.i.am, with a version featuring Ledisi (2008). The iTunes version of Encanto also contains a French version featuring Zap Mama.
  • Cabaret singer Nancy Lamott included this song in her album Ask Me Again (2008), and performs it on her DVD, I'll Be Here With You (2008).
  • "If I Made a Commercial for Trader Joe's" uses a lyrically modified version of the song with guitar by Enrique Coria and piano by David Lisle. YouTube (2009).

2010s[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]