Aquarela do Brasil
|"Aquarela do Brasil"|
|Music by||Ary Barroso|
|Lyrics by||Ary Barroso, Bob Russell (English version)|
|Original artist||Francisco Alves|
Background and composition
Ary Barroso wrote "Aquarela do Brasil" in early 1939, when he was prevented from leaving his home one night due to a heavy storm. Its title, a reference to watercolor painting, is a clear reference to the rain. He also wrote "Três Lágrimas" (Three teardrops) on that same night, before the rain ended.
Describing the song in an interview to Marisa Lira, of the newspaper Diário de Notícias, Barroso said that he wanted to "free the samba away from the tragedies of life, of the sensual scenario already so explored". According to the composer, he "felt all the greatness, the value and the wealth of our land", reliving "the tradition of the national panels".
Initially, he wrote the first chords, which he defined as "vibrant", and a "plangent of emotions". The original beat "sang on [his] imagination, highlighting the sound of the rain, on syncope beats of fantastic tambourins". According to him, "the rest came naturally, music and lyrics at once". He declared to have felt like another person after writing the song.
Release and reception
"Aquarela do Brasil" was first performed by Aracy Cortes on June 10, 1939, at the premiere of the musical play Entra na Faixa, by Barroso and Luís Iglesias. Despite Cortes' huge popularity at the time, the song flopped, perhaps for not adjusting well to her voice. A month later, it was performed by the baritone Cândido Botelho on Joujoux e Balangandans, a benefit concert sponsored by Darci Vargas, then First Lady of Brazil. It was then recorded by Francisco Alves, arranged by Radamés Gnattali and his orchestra, and released by Odeon Records on August 1939.
"Aquarela do Brasil" took a while to succeed. In 1940, it was not among the top three songs of that year's Carnival in Rio. The president of the jury was Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Barroso, offended that his masterpiece was not on the list, ended his relationship with him. The two men would only speak to each other again fifteen years later, when both received the National Order of Merit.
The song only became famous after it was included in Walt Disney’s 1942 animated film Saludos Amigos. After that, the song became known not only in Brazil, but worldwide, becoming the first Brazilian song to be played over a million times on American radio. Due to the huge popularity achieved in the United States, it received an English version by songwriter Bob Russell.
This song, because of its exaltation of Brazil's great qualities, marked the creation of a new genre within samba, known as samba-exaltação (exaltation samba). This musical movement, with its extremely patriotic nature, was seen by many as being favorable to the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas, which generated criticism towards Barroso and his work, as if he were kowtowing to the regime. The Barroso family, however, strongly denies these claims, pointing out that he also wrote an anti-fascist song named "Salada Mista" (Mixed salad), recorded by Carmen Miranda in October 1938. Vargas, although not a fascist himself, was sympathetic to such regimes.
It should also be noted that the Departamento de Imprensa e Propaganda (Department of Press and Propaganda), the official censorship body of the regime, censored a line of the song before its release. The verse "terra do samba e do pandeiro" ("land of samba and the pandeiro") was seen as being "derogatory" for Brazil's image. Barroso persuaded the censors to save the line.
Some criticism to the song, at the time, was that it used expressions little known by the general public, such as "inzoneiro", "merencória", and "trigueiro" (sly, melancholic, and swarthy), and that he was too redundant in the verses "meu Brasil brasileiro" ("my Brazilian Brazil") and "esse coqueiro que dá coco" ("this coconut palm that produces coconut"). The composer defended his work, saying that these expressions were poetic effects inseparable of the original composition. On the original recording, Alves sung "mulato risoneiro" (laughing mulatto) instead of "inzoneiro" because he was unable to understand Barroso's illegible handwriting.
The song has received many successful recordings through the years, being played in many different genres, ranging from its original samba genre to disco. It is one of the 20 most recorded songs of all time.
In 1943, Spanish-born bandleader Xavier Cugat reached number two on the Best Sellers List and number nine on the Harlem Hit Parade with his version of "Brazil". In 1957, Frank Sinatra recorded the song in Come Fly With Me. He was followed by other successful artists of the time such as Bing Crosby, Ray Conniff, and Paul Anka.
During the Brazilian military dictatorship, MPB singer Elis Regina performed what is perhaps the darkest version ever of "Aquarela do Brasil", accompanied by a chorus of men reproducing chants of the Native Brazilians. Meanwhile, American band The Ritchie Family reached number-one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart for seven weeks with their disco version of the song. Other successful Brazilian singers such as Antônio Carlos Jobim, Erasmo Carlos, João Gilberto, Gal Costa, and Simone also recorded versions of the song at the same period.
The song was featured prominently in the 1985 Terry Gilliam film Brazil, which was named after it. It was recorded by Geoff Muldaur in the soundtrack, but parts of the song was incorporated in the orchestral score by Michael Kamen. Afterwards, in the 1990s, it was recorded by both Harry Belafonte and Dionne Warwick.
In 2007, singer-songwriter Daniela Mercury, which recorded the most recent cover of the song by a Brazilian artist, was invited to perform the song at the end of the opening ceremony of the XV Pan American Games, held in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2009, the Recording Academy added the 1942 recording of "Brazil (Aquarela do Brasil)" by Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra, released as Decca 18460B, to the Grammy Hall of Fame. Jimmy Dorsey was the first to record the song on July 14, 1942 and release it with the English lyrics by Bob Russell sung by Bob Eberly and Helen O'Connell.
Also in 2009, American band Beirut performed "Brazil" for their live DVD Beirut: Live At The Music Hall Of Williamsburg.
Usage in popular culture
|1942||Saludos Amigos||Walt Disney|
|1943||The Gang's All Here||Busby Berkeley|
|1944||The Three Caballeros||Walt Disney|
|1948||Sitting Pretty||Walter Lang|
|1956||The Eddy Duchin Story||George Sidney|
|1961||A Difficult Life||Dino Risi|
|1976||Silent Movie||Mel Brooks|
|1980||Stardust Memories||Woody Allen|
|1998||There's Something About Mary||Farrelly brothers|
|1999||Three to Tango||Damon Santostefano|
|1999||Being John Malkovich (Trailer)||Spike Jonze|
|2003||Something's Gotta Give||Nancy Meyers|
|2004||The Aviator||Martin Scorsese|
|2008||WALL-E (Trailer)||Andrew Stanton|
|1962||The Jetsons||Las Venus - Solar Sambaramba|
|1966||The Andy Griffith Show||Season 7- Episode 20:Andy's Old Girlfriend|
|1982||SCTV||Series 5, Cycle 4- Towering Inferno with Banda Brava (Words To Live By segment)|
|2002||The Simpsons||"Blame It on Lisa"|
|2004||Miss Marple||"The Body in the Library"|
|2007||Vidas Opostas||Theme song|
|2008||Eli Stone||Theme song and during episode previews|
|2011||Let's Dance||Episode 5 - Bernd Herzsprung's Samba|
|2012||My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic||Episode 39 - Intro plays briefly when Pinkie Pie is trying to persuade the Cakes to hire her as babysitter.|
- (Portuguese) About "Aquarela do Brasil" at blog Cifra Antiga. Accessed on March 30, 2009.
- (Portuguese) Dicionário Cravo Albin de Música Popular Brasileira. Ary Barroso - Artistic database. Accessed on March 30, 2009.
- THOMPSON, Daniella. "The political side of Ary Barroso". Published on August 6, 2002. Accessed on March 30, 2009.
- (Portuguese) Information about "Aquarela do Brasil" - quotes CABRAL, Sérgio. No tempo de Ary Barroso. Rio de Janeiro, Lumiar, s/d, p.179 at WebCite (archived 25 October 2009). Accessed on March 30, 2009. Archived 2009-10-25.
- (Portuguese) Information about "Aquarela do Brasil" at WebCite (archived 25 October 2009). Accessed on March 30, 2009. Archived 2009-10-25.
- Craig Harris. "Ary Barroso Biography". allmusic.com.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 141.
- 28 Titles Being Added to Grammy Hall of Fame
- Grammy Hall of Fame award
- Brazil. Second Hand Songs.
- The Coasters, The Coasters Retrieved February 8, 2012.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 218.
- Legran Orchestra "Aquarela do Brazil" Samba Mp3· ISWC T-0425394804 "Latin Complete Collection" Album. Published with the permission of the owner of rights
- Ary Barroso, Giant of Brazilian Song by Daniella Thompson
"Forever Came Today" by The Jackson 5
|Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (The Ritchie Family version)
August 20, 1975 – September 20, 1975
"Fly, Robin, Fly" by Silver Convention