Aquarela do Brasil

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"Aquarela do Brasil"
("Brazil")
Music by Ary Barroso
Lyrics by Ary Barroso, Bob Russell (English version)
Language Portuguese
Original artist Francisco Alves

"Aquarela do Brasil" (Watercolor of Brazil), known in the English-speaking world simply as "Brazil", is one of the most famous Brazilian songs, written by Ary Barroso in 1939.

Background and composition[edit]

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.[1]

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".[1]

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.[1]

Release and reception[edit]

"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.[1][2]

"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.[1][2]

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.[1][2] Due to the huge popularity achieved in the United States, it received an English version by songwriter Bob Russell.[1][2]

It was voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone as the 12th greatest Brazilian song.[3]

Controversy[edit]

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.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6]

Notable recordings[edit]

1942 Jimmy Dorsey recording on Decca, 18460B. 2008 Grammy Hall of Fame inductee.

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.[7]

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".[8] 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.[9][10] 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.[11]

Also in 2009, American band Beirut performed "Brazil" for their live DVD Beirut: Live At The Music Hall Of Williamsburg.

ITV are currently using a cover of this song by Thiago Thomé as the theme song for their coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup which took place in Brazil in June and July 2014. During the tournament's opening ceremony, its first verses were performed live by Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte before being joined onstage by Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez to sing "We Are One (Ole Ola)".

Year Artist Album Source
1947 Django Reinhardt Quintette du Hot Club de France
1957 Frank Sinatra Come Fly With Me
1958 The Coasters The Coasters [12]
1958 Bing Crosby Fancy Meeting You Here
1958 The Four Freshmen Voices In Latin
1960 Ray Conniff Say It with Music (A Touch of Latin) [1]
1963 Paul Anka Our Man Around the World [2]
1965 The Shadows The Sound of The Shadows
1969 Elis Regina Honeysuckle Rose Aquarela Do Brasil [3]
1970 Antônio Carlos Jobim Stone Flower [4]
1970 Erasmo Carlos Erasmo Carlos & Os Tremendões [5]
1974 Santana Lotus (quoted in "Samba Pa Ti")
1975 Elis Regina A Arte de Elis Regina [6]
1975 Crispy & Co. Tonight at the Discotheque
1975 The Ritchie Family Brazil [13]
1976 Chet Atkins Guitar Monsters [7]
1976 João Gilberto Amoroso (later re-recorded in Live in Montreux) [8]
1980 Gal Costa Aquarela do Brasil [9]
1980 Simone Ao Vivo [10]
1981 Tav Falco's Panther Burns Behind The Magnolia Curtain [11]
1984 Egberto Gismonti and Naná Vasconcelos Duas Vozes
1985 Geoff Muldaur Brazil (original motion picture soundtrack)
1985 Kate Bush and Michael Kamen Brazil (original motion picture soundtrack)
1987 Ney Matogrosso Pescador de Pérolas [12]
1990 Harry Belafonte Around the World with the Entertainers [13]
1995 Dionne Warwick Aquarela do Brazil [14]
1997 Pink Martini Sympathique [15]
1998 Vengaboys The Party Album
1999 Jun Miyake Glam Exotica!
2000 Rosemary Clooney Brazil [16]
2002 Cornelius Point
2004 Martinho da Vila Apresenta Mané do Cavaco [17]
2005 Arcade Fire "Cold Wind" (B-side)
"Rebellion (Lies)" (B-side)
2005 Daniela Mercury Balé Mulato [18]
2005 Plácido Domingo Lo Essencial de [19]
2007 Chick Corea & Béla Fleck The Enchantment [20]
2009 Beirut Beirut: Live At The Music Hall Of Williamsburg (DVD) [21]
2009 The Spinto Band Slim and Slender [22]
2012 Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra Walkin'
2014 Claudia Leitte We Are One (World Cup Opening Ceremony Version)

Usage in popular culture[edit]

Films

Year Film Director
1942 Saludos Amigos Walt Disney
1943 The Gang's All Here Busby Berkeley
1944 The Three Caballeros Walt Disney
1946 Notorious Alfred Hitchcock
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
1985 Brazil Terry Gilliam
1998 There's Something About Mary Farrelly brothers
1999 Three to Tango Damon Santostefano
1999 Being John Malkovich (Trailer) Spike Jonze
2003 Carandiru Héctor Babenco
2003 Something's Gotta Give Nancy Meyers
2004 The Aviator Martin Scorsese
2008 Australia Baz Luhrmann
2008 WALL-E (Trailer) Andrew Stanton
2014 Mr. Peabody & Sherman Rob Minkoff

Television programs

Year TV Series Episode
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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g (Portuguese) About "Aquarela do Brasil" at blog Cifra Antiga. Accessed on March 30, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d (Portuguese) Dicionário Cravo Albin de Música Popular Brasileira. Ary Barroso - Artistic database. Accessed on March 30, 2009.
  3. ^ Spessoto, Toninho (2009). "As 100 Maiores Músicas Brasileiras - "Aquarela do Brasil"". Rolling Stone Brasil (in Portuguese). Spring. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  4. ^ THOMPSON, Daniella. "The political side of Ary Barroso". Published on August 6, 2002. Accessed on March 30, 2009.
  5. ^ (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.
  6. ^ (Portuguese) Information about "Aquarela do Brasil" at WebCite (archived 25 October 2009). Accessed on March 30, 2009. Archived 2009-10-25.
  7. ^ Craig Harris. "Ary Barroso Biography". allmusic.com. 
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 141. 
  9. ^ 28 Titles Being Added to Grammy Hall of Fame
  10. ^ Grammy Hall of Fame award
  11. ^ Brazil. Second Hand Songs.
  12. ^ The Coasters, The Coasters Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 218. 

External links[edit]


Preceded by
"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
Succeeded by
"Fly, Robin, Fly" by Silver Convention