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 “O Nosso Amor”

Today I offer a new translation of the Jobim/Vinicius classic “O Nosso Amor”, which translates as “Our Love”. My favorite version of this song is on the classic Elenco release “MPB-4”–which is both the name of the group and the album. There is also a lovely rendition by Joao Gilberto. I’m not aware of any other English version of this song, so I hope my version will suffice. It’s nice and short, unlike some of the others I’m currently taking on–“Samba da Pergunta” and “Tem Do”–which I’ll try to offer one fine day.

Our Love
(O Nosso Amor)

Here’s how our love is going to be:
just me for you, just you for me.
(2x)
This sadness is not welcome anymore.
I will bring you happiness.
I will want to live in peace
It’s what destiny tells me.

(Da Capo)
Here’s how our love…

— English version by Matthew Marth,
based on the original Portuguese version,
entitled “O Nosso Amor” by
Antonio Carlos 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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New English version of "Só danço Samba"
December 1, 2009, 11:23 am
Filed under: lyrics | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I haven’t spent much time lately with the stated project of posting about the Divas, but I have spent a fair amount of time creating English versions of several bossa nova classics. Here’s the latest. I suspect there may already be an English version of “Só danço samba”, but I haven’t been able to locate it, so I did my own. I left the Portuguese “Vai vai vai” in there, because I don’t think “go go go” sounds good with the rest—too guttaral. I figure the “vai vai vai” helps keep the Brazilian flavor in any case. If you like it, use it.

I Only Dance the Samba

I dance the samba, but only samba.
Vai vai vai vai vai
I dance the samba, but only samba.
Vai.

I’ve already twisted all I can,
so please don’t wear me thin
with calypso and cha cha cha.
[alternative 2nd verse:
I’ve danced the twist so much I’m out of breath.
So please don’t bore me stiff
with calypso and cha cha cha.]

English version by Matthew Marth,
based on the original Portuguese version,
entitled “Só danço samba” by Antonio Carlos Jobim and
Vinicius de Moraes

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