José Afonso’s “Grândola vila morena”


Zeca Afonso - Coliseu - 29-1-1983I use to say –maybe induced by Casablanca’s wonderful scene- that this great and thrilling song, “Grândola vila morena” is “La Marseillaise” of the XXth Century. Probably, José Afonso didn’t think (even later he didn’t) this song was bound to be such important, but it was so. Zeca write the song as an homage to the “Sociedad Musical Fraternidad Operaria Grandolense” (Worker Brotherhood Musical Society of Grândola), of the village of Grândola, by getting impressed by the awareness and political matureness of their members, as by the good use of their so little resources. The song, arranged by José Mario Branco, was included in his 1971’s Lp Cantigas do Maio (Songs of May), that was recorded in France, and soon became in one of the anthems of the Portuguese opposition. The first time José Afonso sung his song live was in Santiago de Compostela (Spain), in 1972, in a concert in which he was accompanied by one of our best Galician songwriters: Benedicto. In 1974, the song was choosen by the Movement of the Armed Forces as a password to start the revolt against the dictatorship of Marcelo Gaetano, heir of Oliveira Salazar: the Carnation Revolution in 1974 April. Some people sais that was the impression of seeing Amalia Rodrigues singing it in a concert of that year; anyway, it seems that was captain Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho one of the main choosers of the song: in fact, according to Benedicto, the decission was taken by various army officials –between them, Otelo Saraiva- in a cafe, where there was Zeca too; they never said a word to Zeca about it. So, the 25 April, 1974, at 0:20, the program “Limite”, of Radio Renascença, made the first signal to start the Revolution and bring back Democracy to Portugal…

José Afonso, a humble man, never gave importance to that issue, at least, at the beginning. He said:

I experienced April 25 a kind of blinding. I went to the Carmen, walked around… I was such enthusiastic with the political phenomenon that I didn’t notice, or I did’t gave it importance, to the issue of Grândola. Just later, when the fascist attacks of September 28 or those of March 11 were occurred and Grândola was sung at those moments of serious danger or of greatest enthusiasm, I noticed about all it’s meaning and, naturally, I’ve got a kind of satisfaction.

From Wikipedia’s Spanish version; translation was made by me

Grândola, vila morena

Grândola, vila morena
Terra da fraternidade
O povo é quem mais ordena
Dentro de ti, ó cidade
Dentro de ti, ó cidade
O povo é quem mais ordena
Terra da fraternidade
Grândola, vila morena.

Em cada esquina um amigo
Em cada rosto igualdade
Grândola, vila morena
Terra da fraternidade

Terra da fraternidade
Grândola, vila morena
Em cada rosto igualdade
O povo é quem mais ordena.

À sombra duma azinheira
Que já não sabia a idade
Jurei ter por companheira
Grândola a tua vontade
Grândola a tua vontade
Jurei ter por companheira
À sombra duma azinheira
Que já não sabia a idade

http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr%C3%A2ndola,_Vila_Morena

Grândola, swarthy town

Grândola, swarthy town/ Land of fraternity/ It is the people who command/ Inside of you, oh city// Inside of you, oh city/ It is the people who command/ Land of fraternity/ Grândola, swarthy town// On each corner, a friend/ In each face, equality/ Grândola, swarthy town/ Land of fraternity// Land of fraternity/ Grândola, swarthy town/ In each face, equality/ It is the people who command// At the shadow of a holm oak/ Which no longer knew its age/ I swore to have as my companion/  Grândola your will// Grândola, your will/ I swore to have as my companion/ At the shadow of a holm oak/ Which no longer knew its age.

José Afonso

Translation to English made upon this one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr%C3%A2ndola,_Vila_Morena 

A translation into to Spanish, with a reflexion about the song and the Historical fact:

https://albokari2.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/grandola-sempre%E2%80%A6/

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lorenzo on 3 marzo, 2012 at 20:15

    Not “swarthy town” but “city of the Moors” (Villa de los Moros).
    http://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?lang=it&id=229

    Ciao

  2. Posted by Lorenzo on 3 marzo, 2012 at 20:19

    “First, vila morena does not mean “brown city”, as translated in most versions, but “city of the Moors”: the Moors ruled Alentejo until the advent to the throne of don Afonso Henrique, king of Portugal. The azinheira is not an “ilex” or an “holm-oak”, but a “cork-oak” (quercus suber).” 🙂

  3. Thank you Lorenzo. That’s very interesting and is well to remark it, though I rather aply the adjective “swarthy”, to be a little more literal. About the trees, I’m looking it… It’s a curious thing that we have so many difficultis to translate Latins languages. As always, thank you.
    (Eso es bastante interesante y queda bien al reflejarlo, aunque soy más partidario de aplicar el adjetivo “morena”, de ser algo más literal. Sobre los árboles lo estoy mirando… Es curioso que tengamos tantas dificultades para traducir lenguajes latinos. Como siempre, gracias.)

    For those who prefer Lorenzo’s translation:

    Grândola, city of the Moors
    Land of brotherhood
    ‘Tis the people who command the most
    Inside of you, o city
    Inside of you, o city
    ‘Tis the people who command the most
    Land of brotherhood
    Grândola, city of the Moors

    On every corner, a friend
    In every face, equality
    Grândola, city of the Moors
    Land of brotherhood
    Land of brotherhood
    Grândola, city of the Moors
    In every face, equality
    On every corner, a friend

    ‘Tis the people who command the most
    In the shadow of a cork oak
    That none now know its age
    I swore to have as my companion
    Grândola, if it’s your will
    Grândola, if it’s your will
    I swore to have as my companion
    In the shadow of a cork oak
    That none now know its age

  4. Posted by Lorenzo on 4 marzo, 2012 at 10:49

    “Moreno” – adj. e s.m.
    1) Que ou aquele que possui cor trigueira;
    2) (Env.) Relativo aos mouros
    3) (Prov.) Mistura de limalha de ferro e pó de carvão que se deposita nas forjas
    (Do cast. “moreno”, de “moro”, “mouro”).

    Dicionário da língua Portuguesa, por J. Almeida Costa e A. Sampaio e Melo
    6a Edição, Porto Editora, Lisboa, 1990, pag. 1132

  5. ¡Uf, amigo! Ahora sí que me haces dudar: estoy pensando en reeditarla y poner tu traducción junto a la otra… Así aprovecho y enlazo también la interpretación en el coliseu

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