An Italian tells you why to listen to samba (again and again)
By Miriam Eleonora Barosco
In a rather uncertain time when I wish to make writing mine once again, I find difficult to speak my mind. I prefer adopting the work of other authors, masters whose vision I share. I would like to voice some sentiment and ideas that I consider helpful if not necessary before the desolation of the scenario we are currently experiencing.
Our wellbeing – both mental and physical – is at stake. What no better way to tackle the subject if not from a perspective that I hope can improve a little our everyday condition?
Music has always accompanied me. My attempts to learn how to play a musical instrument have been poor. Nonetheless, I can say that I surely am a voracious listener.
I suppose that is now a very bad idea to write about samba and direct this text to a Brazilian audience. Yet as an Italian who happens to share your circumstances these days, I would like to pay homage to one of the finest cultural products of your country.
Samba along with his younger sister bossa nova had been source of great relief and nostalgia throughout my undergraduate years. I listened to Baden Powell’s Canto de Ossanha and to the Italian concerts that Toquinho gave in Italy together with Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes.
Saudade is definitely a feeling, the feeling. Vinícius says that you need a little sadness for samba to be good. Samba is like life, or better – life is like samba. It’s no easy game, no easy trick. But you better take it lightly and savour it.
Samba came back to me to reach me in this very particular period of time to fill me with hope and love. It unapologetically wore festive garments and brought me blessings. It gifted me with a vibe to dance to.
I am choosing Carlos Lyra’s Samba delle Benedizioni over the original Samba da Bênção by Baden Powell and the very Vinícius. This is how I first got to know and love this song, and how I prefer it still today. This marvellously crafted piece sounds so naturally melodious and effortlessly perfect. Bilingual as it is, I can get all the Spanish and Portuguese. I find the Brazilian accent in Spanish absolutely adorable. And once again, the will to translate these words in multiple languages proves the universal value of the message it expresses.
Samba delle Benedizioni was also deeply appreciated by Giuseppe Ungaretti, one of Italy’s most illustrious poets of modern times, and certainly one of my favourite ones. He recognised the merits of these lyrics and decided to translate them himself. An album – La Vita, Amico, È l’Arte dell’Incontro (“la vida es el arte del encuentro”) – resulted from the collaboration between Ungaretti, Vinícius and Sergio Endrigo, an Italian songwriter. The title was precisely taken from a phrase of Samba delle Benedizioni.
I want to swing right now. (Seemingly) momentarily carefree.
Esperar pra Ver, a contemporary dance remake of Evinha’s 1971 samba piece, is the other song that has lately meant so much to me. Esperar is our imperative, our contribution, our responsibility today.
The words get repeated in an echo that leaves us hanging as we look forward to what life will reserve for us next. In this suspended time, the status of things requires us to be hopeful that we will meet and hug again.
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