Ragged Clown

It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing…


The waters of March, closing the summer…

My new favourite song is Águas de Março. Pandora found it for me in my “Mas que Nada” playlist where it is sung by four or five different performers so I get to hear lots of different versions. This one – with Elis Regina and Antonio Carlos Jobim – is the best version by a mile.

I was surprised to see how upbeat and happy they are in the video (I am watching it for the first time with you) as I had a very different interpretation in my head.

When I first heard the song, I took it to be two lovers exchanging sweet nothings across a shared pillow but after hearing it over and over I had to go google the lyrics to find out what it was really about. Wow. That was a shock.

First of all, I had no idea the song was so famous and important. I thought I had discovered a hidden gem and was the only one to enjoy it. How was I to know that I was the very last person in the world to hear it?  I am very familiar with Antonio Carlos Jobim and love his music but I had never heard of Elis Regina (which made Gilles laugh out loud). I have since made up for lost time and now she’s a favourite too.

Águas de Março - Elis Regina e Tom Jobim
Águas de Março – Elis Regina e Tom Jobim

Secondly, the lyrics… wow. I was way off.

É pau é pedra
É o fim do caminho
É um resto de toco
É um pouco sozinho…

É um caco de vidro
É a vida é o sol
É a noite é a morte
É um laço é o anzol…

É peroba do campo
É o nó da madeira
Caingá, Candeia
É o matita-pereira…

São as águas de março
Fechando o verão
E a promessa de vida
No teu coração…

Wikipedia tells me that Jobim wrote a completely separate set of English lyrics and I don’t know how much they correspond with the Portuguese lyrics [If only we knew someone who speaks Portuguese! – Ed].

It is wood, it is stone
It is the end of the way
It is the rest of a bole
It is a bit in loneliness

It is a shard of glass
It is life, it is sun
It is the night, it is the death
It is the tie , it is the hook …

It is peroba do campo
It is the knob in the wood
Caingá, candeia
It is matita-pereira

They are the waters of March,
closing the summer…
and the promise of life…
in your heart.

Now I know that the song is about the passing of summer (March is at the end of summer in the southern hemisphere) I hear the song as a wistful reminiscence of beautiful ways and a mournful expectation of the winter to come. For me now, it’s a song about loss. Perhaps the loss of youth and the approach of our autumn years. But then I see Tom and Elis having a fine old time on the video and am more confused than when I started. I have no idea what the song is about.

Before I finish, I’d like to say a couple of things about Mas Que Nada, the song that started all this.

Like most of the northern hemisphere, I was introduced to this wonderful song by Ronald and Co’s delightful romp through the airport during the ’98 World Cup.

And reminded of it by Ronaldinho and Friends, Joga Bonito-ing it up eight years later… which brings me to my second point about Mas Que Nada.

Someone needs to stop the Black-Eyed Peas from covering other people’s music. They peaked around Shut Up (which I used to sing as a duet with my then nine-year-old daughter) and Hey Mama! and everything they have sung since then has the consistency of mushy peas and I’d rather they didn’t turn other people’s great songs into mush.