Bossa Nova Daydreams


New English version of “O Grande Amor”

“O Grande Amor” is one of the most hauntingly beautiful fruits of the famous collaboration between A.C. Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. The lyrics convey a cognitive dissonance between the ideal of monogamous love and the painful reality of romantic indiscretion. This tension is supported and amplified musically on at least two levels.

Vinicius de Moraes (l.) and Tom Jobim (r.) arm wrestling

Vinicius de Moraes (l.) and Tom Jobim (r.) arm wrestling

There is the tension created by alternating between minor and major modalities in the melody and there is the tension created by setting the descending modal trajectory of the melody against the descending chromatic trajectory of the harmony. The end result is a mixed message about romantic love that mirrors the reality of life in a captivating way.

For those who have never heard this song, I recommend the recording by Stan Getz and João Gilberto found on the classic album “Getz/Gilberto”.
I’ve been holding on to this one for some time now. It’s just such a great song that I wanted to be sure to get it right. If I end up tweaking it and making further changes in the future, please don’t be surprised.

Love’s Greatness
(O Grande Amor)

Come what may, my friends, there’s always a man for every woman.
There will always be a false love you must forget,
because it makes you feel like dying.
Be that as it may,
love’s greatness will surely prevail,
and when it wins over the heart
the one who cried will then forgive.

— English version by Matthew Marth,
based on the original Portuguese version,
entitled “O Grande Amor” by A.C. Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes

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New English version of “Eu sei que vou te amar”

Here’s another new English version of a Bossa Nova classic. “Eu sei que vou te amar” is the original Portuguese title of the song by A.C. Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. My version is called “I know that I’ll love you”, which is pretty much a literal translation of the original. This song has been recorded by numerous performers, but there doesn’t seem to be any standard English version for it (though other English versions do exist). One of my favorite renditions is sung by Norma Bengell on a classic sixties album produced in Brazil called “Oooooh! Norma”. Also excellent are those of Sylvia Telles and Lenita Bruno, which were also recorded in Brazil in the 60s.

This song has been on my mind a lot over the last few days, because in addition to working on the new translation, I’ve also been making an arrangement of the music for a trio of voice, flute and guitar. As usual, if you like this version I encourage you to use it in performance. Let me know if you do. I’d love to hear it!

I know that I’ll love you
(Eu sei que vou te amar)

I know that I’ll love you,
my whole life through, I know that I’ll love you.
At every farewell I will love you,
with desperation I know I’ll love you.

And every verse I write will be my chance to say
I know that I’ll love you, love you my whole life through.

I know I’m going to cry,
whenever you’re not here I’m going to cry.
But each time you return will make up for
the loss I felt when you weren’t at my side.

I know I’ll have to bear
a never-ending feeling of despair,
while waiting for the chance to be with you,
with you my whole life through.

— English version by Matthew Marth,
based on the original Portuguese version,
entitled “Eu sei que vou te amar” by
Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes

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