Laugh not to cry

Wolfgang Tillmans, Paper Drop, 2014


What could be a beautiful tribute to an important Brazilian composer ends up being more water thrown into the mill of mistakes

An artist is not always the owner of his work. Not in the glorious sense of falling into the public domain or becoming world heritage, noble categories that usually occur after death, but in the petty and cruel fate of not being recognized as a true author.

In Brazil, the case of the poet Eduardo Alves da Costa, who had the (un)fortune to baptize one of his poems as On the Way with Mayakovsky. Mackenzie's law student, in the 1960s, who organized poetic evenings at Teatro de Arena, is the author of some of the most quoted, reproduced, copied, printed, printed and recited verses of revolt against the dictatorship, against all dictatorships:

On the first night they approach
and steal a flower
from our garden.
And we say nothing.

On the second night, they no longer hide;
trample the flowers,
kill our dog,
and we say nothing.

Until one day,
the most fragile of them
enter our house alone,
steals our light, and,
knowing our fear,
pulls the voice out of our throats.
And we can no longer say anything. (...)

Quoting Mayakovsky in the title made many people believe that the verses were from the Russian poet. Even the psychoanalyst Roberto Freire reproduced the verses in one of his books, citing Alves da Costa as the translator.

Also common – who knows where the legend comes from! – is to credit the authorship of the verses to Bertolt Brecht. Perhaps because of the connection between the true author and the theater and, by extension, because of the strong influence that Arena absorbed from Brechtian aesthetics in shows such as Arena counts zombie.

In popular music there are several similar cases. It is common to attribute the authorship of a song to the performer, especially if he is a composer. A small masterpiece by Geraldo Pereira, No commitment, recorded by several performers until the 1970s, had its author erased after being sung by Chico Buarque. Not because of the fault of the illustrious son of Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, who put the correct credits on the album, but because of a legion of fans who don't read credits on the album cover (Closed sign.

This kind of functional illiteracy has multiplied with the advent of the internet. Those who frequent social networks are overwhelmed by dozens of corny poems and phrases with the depth of a saucer attributed to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Fernando Pessoa, Clarice Lispector, Einstein, Freud and a vast number of others.

Returning to popular music, another big mistake involves two illustrious sambistas, Cartola and Candeia. The mangueirense recorded in 1976, in his second solo LP, the existential samba of portelense. There were ten songs by Cartola, and two exceptions: “I need to find me”, by Candeia, and “lady temptation”, by Silas de Oliveira, pride and glory of the Serrano Empire.

The disc is an exuberant parade of anthological songs, such as The world is a mill, steel strings e Roses don't talk. The melancholic samba of Candeia is rocked by a surprising arrangement, which highlights the bassoon of Airton Barbosa, then a member of the Villa-Lobos quintet. Among so many masterpieces by Cartola, the authorship ended up being changed, although correctly credited. (By the way, they also tend to mistakenly attribute the bassoon solo to Noel Devos, Airton Barbosa's teacher).

More than a decade later, the dolent samba received a magnetic interpretation by Marisa Monte, and became a national success. Again, the credit is right there on the back cover of the singer's debut album, from 1989. A Portelense like MM, daughter of a Portela director, wouldn't make a fool of herself.

The misconception, however, persists. Premiere in theaters in 2022 another Brazilian production, take me out of sight, a comedy with a police plot starring Cleo Pires. In the opening, “I need to find myself" is heard in the rascante voice of Elza Soares, in magnificent interpretation. It would be great if the promotional material for the film and the producer's interviews did not credit the song to… Cartola!

What could be a beautiful tribute to an important Brazilian composer ends up being more water thrown into the mill of mistakes.

Let me go
I need to walk
I'm going around looking
Laugh, not to cry...

* Daniel Brazil is a writer, author of the novel suit of kings (Penalux), screenwriter and TV director, music and literary critic.


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