Sunday Samba #4, Martinho da Vila.

Sunday Samba #4, Martinho da Vila. February 28, 2016

Entrevistas Diversas (15811968236)

Martinho da Vila

By Senado Federal (Entrevistas Diversas) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons



This week we come to one of my favorite sambistas, Martinho da Vila.  The ‘Vila’ in his name refers to his neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Vila Isabel, one of the great neighborhoods and associated samba schools in Rio’s geography of samba and home to another great sambista of the generation before Martinho, Noel Rosa. Martinho’s da Vila’s songs are known for their humor, joy for life, and political engagement (Martinho is a member of the Brazilian Communist Party). I will be sharing more music by both Martinho da Vila and Noel Rosa in future installments. Today’s song is from Martinho’s 1973 album, Origens (Pelo Telefone).  Every song on this album is fantastic, but this is my favorite. It tells a story from native Brazilian (Tupí-Guaraní) mythology.  I’ve run across many versions of the story online, but the version my wife tells me seems to fit the song best.  In this version, the thunder god Tupã creates Jaci, the moon goddess, and Guaraci, the sun god.  Tupã takes Jaci to be his wife, but Guaraci also falls in love with her. Guaraci is tormented by his desire but whenever he awakes to rule over the world she disappears from his sight.  This song is a reminder of Brazil’s striking religious pluralism.  While Catholicism- brought to the country primarily by the Portuguese and Spanish Jesuits- is the dominant religion in the country, West African derived religions like Candomblé and Umbanda, Indian religions, Pentecostalism, and the spiritualism of the Frenchman Allan Kardec are also popular.  Its a place where statues of the sea goddess lemanjá can be found side by side with storefront charismatic churches and magnificent colonial era Catholic churches.  Here is a translation of the lyrics from today’s song.


From behind the mountains,

Guaraci is coming. x2


You look beautiful

On the top of that hill.

So feminine

Like the morning breeze.

For all night

You ruled over the firmament.

And stars

Helped you to rule.

But, I feel sorry,

Your kingdom is about to end.

And this hill is here to give you refuge.

Go to other lands

My beautiful Jaci.

Or hide behind the hills

because the king is Guaraci.


To other lands

O majestic Jaci

Or hide behind the hills

because the king is coming.

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