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Brazilian music – Chico Buarque’s ‘Construção’ Posted by on Apr 30, 2018 in Brazilian News, Brazilian Profile, Culture, Entertainment, History, Music, Vocabulary

Boa tarde, leitores! Good afternoon, readers!

Did you know that tomorrow, May 1rst, is dia do trabalhador (labor day) here is Brazil? Therefore, it is a holiday for all of us workers to get some rest! In that spirit, today we are going to listen to some music and learn the lyrics to the 1971 iconic working-class themed song Construção (construction), by legendary Brazilian composer Chico Buarque.

The composer Chico Buarque (photo by Fernanda Steffen under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Contexto histórico – Historical context: This song was written during the military dictatorship period, a time when culture and arts were underdoing severe censorship and repression. It was elected by Rolling Stone magazine as the greatest Brazilian song of all time!

A música – The song: The epic composition narrates the story of a construction worker who passes away in the exercise of his functions. Its lyrics organize events following a circular structure that repeat sentences but alternate its main elements in a complex wordplay that creates a very unique rhythm. Construction brilliantly criticizes the alienation of workers in modern society in a potent and poetic manner without sounding too overtly political.

Listen to the song and read its letra (lyrics) followed by the translation in italics right underneath so you can check it out for yourself.

Construção – Construction

Amou daquela vez como se fosse a última

He made love as if it were the last time

Beijou sua mulher como se fosse a última

Kissed his wife as if she were the last one

E cada filho seu como se fosse o único

And each child of his as if they were the only ones

E atravessou a rua com seu passo tímido

And he crossed the street with his shy step

Subiu a construção como se fosse máquina

He climbed the construction site as if he were a machine

Ergueu no patamar quatro paredes sólidas

He built in the landing four solid walls

Tijolo com tijolo num desenho mágico

Brick by brick in a magical design

Seus olhos embotados de cimento e lágrima

His eyes filled with concrete and tears

Sentou pra descansar como se fosse sábado

He sat down to rest as if it were Saturday

Comeu feijão com arroz como se fosse um príncipe

He ate beans and rice as if he were a prince

Bebeu e soluçou como se fosse um náufrago

Drank and sobbed as if he were a castaway

Dançou e gargalhou como se ouvisse música

He danced and laughed as if listening to music

E tropeçou no céu como se fosse um bêbado

And he stumbled in the sky as though he were a drunk

E flutuou no ar como se fosse um pássaro

And he floated in the air as though he were a bird

E se acabou no chão feito um pacote flácido

And ended up on the ground in a flabby bundle

Agonizou no meio do passeio público

He agonized in the middle of the public sidewalk

Morreu na contramão, atrapalhando o tráfego

He died in the wrong way disrupting the traffic

 

Amou daquela vez como se fosse o último

He made love that time as if he were the last

Beijou sua mulher como se fosse a única

Kissed his wife as if she were the only one

E cada filho seu como se fosse o pródigo

And each child of his as if they were the prodigal

E atravessou a rua com seu passo bêbado

And crossed the street with his drunken step

Subiu a construção como se fosse sólido

He climbed the construction site as if it were solid

Ergueu no patamar quatro paredes mágicas

He built in the landing four magical walls

Tijolo com tijolo num desenho lógico

Brick by brick in a logical design

Seus olhos embotados de cimento e tráfego

His eyes filled with concrete and traffic

Sentou pra descansar como se fosse um príncipe

He sat down to rest as if he were a prince

Comeu feijão com arroz como se fosse o máximo

He ate beans and rice as if it were the best

Bebeu e soluçou como se fosse máquina

He drank and sobbed as if he were a machine

Dançou e gargalhou como se fosse o próximo

He danced and laughed as if he were the next one

E tropeçou no céu como se ouvisse música

And stumbled in the sky as if listening to music

E flutuou no ar como se fosse sábado

And floated in the air as if it were Saturday

E se acabou no chão feito um pacote tímido

And ended up on the ground in a shy bundle

Agonizou no meio do passeio náufrago

He agonized in the middle of the castaway sidewalk

Morreu na contramão atrapalhando o público

He died in the wrong way interrupting the public

 

Amou daquela vez como se fosse máquina

He made love that time as if he were a machine

Beijou sua mulher como se fosse lógico

He kissed his wife as if it were logical

Ergueu no patamar quatro paredes flácidas

He built in the landing four flabby walls

Sentou pra descansar como se fosse um pássaro

He sat down to rest as if he were a bird

E flutuou no ar como se fosse um príncipe

And he floated in the air as if he were a prince

E se acabou no chão feito um pacote bêbado

And ended up on the ground in a drunken bundle

Morreu na contramão atrapalhando o sábado

He died in the wrong way interrupting Saturday

 

Por esse pão pra comer, por esse chão pra dormir

For this bread to eat, for this ground to sleep

A certidão pra nascer e a concessão pra sorrir

The certificate to be born and the license to smile

Por me deixar respirar, por me deixar existir

For letting me breathe, for letting me exist

Deus lhe pague

God shall reward you

Pela cachaça de graça que a gente tem que engolir

For the free liquor that we all have to swallow

Pela fumaça e a desgraça que a gente tem que tossir

For the smoke and the misfortune, that we all have to cough

Pelos andaimes pingentes que a gente tem que cair

For the hanging scaffold from which we all have to fall

Deus lhe pague

God shall reward you

Pela mulher carpideira pra nos louvar e cuspir

For the moaning woman to praise us and spit at us

E pelas moscas bicheiras a nos beijar e cobrir

And for the flies to kiss us and cover us

E pela paz derradeira que enfim vai nos redimir

And for the final peace that in the end will redeem us

Deus lhe pague

God shall reward you

Feel like learning more about Chico Buarque? Here is another post about him on our blog: https://blogs.transparent.com/portuguese/chico-buarque/

And how is your work vocabulary going? Here are a couple of posts for you to practice:

https://blogs.transparent.com/portuguese/work-related-words-part-1/

https://blogs.transparent.com/portuguese/work-related-words-part-ii/

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Comments:

  1. carol:

    Hey, Nishea. I’ve never heard of him before, but I’ll make sure to check it out 🙂
    Thanks for the tip

    • carol:

      @carol Hey, Andre. I’m not sure what you mean. Are you talking about comments?

  2. carol:

    Que bom saber! Essa música é mesmo linda.
    Obrigada.

    • carol:

      @carol Yes, Tristian. I am Brazilian, from Minas Gerais.

  3. carol:

    Hey, Eve! We are here to help!
    There’s plenty of material in our blog. Hope it’s useful for you.

  4. carol:

    Thanks, Adam!