I’ve already shared two songs by my favorite tango singer, Tita Merello, on this blog. And while I may not listen to much tango, Tita is part of almost every playlist I make. Lately, I’ve been thinking ahead to next year’s trip to Portugal… & listening to a lot of fado. One of my favorite singers is really the queen of the genre. But first a bit about the music itself.
Fado is music for the soul. Defined by a sense of yearning or longing for something that’s out of reach (saudade), fado equals nostalgia. Songs can be happy or sad—often both at the same time—which truly reflects life. But melancholic saudade is the standard topic of most songs. For me, listening to fado is a great catharsis… similar to watching a movie you know will make you cry. Hey, sometimes we need a good cry every so often.
The undisputed queen of fado, Amália Rodrigues, was born in 1920 & became famous at an early age. Legend has it that she captivated people with her voice while selling lemons at a local market, then went on to much bigger things. Starting in Portuguese movies, she captured the attention of the rest of Europe & even appeared in Hollywood. A true diva, her first name is enough to recognize her. Her life story is amazing & during her last series of interviews, it’s obvious she thought highly of herself. But she was Amália after all. She passed away in 1999 at the age of 79. Watch the Bruno de Almeida biography film “The Art of Amália” & be amazed.
Several songs deserve to be here, & choosing a single one is difficult. But iTunes says I’ve played “Medo” the most. So there you go. Short & sweet, “Fear” provides a great intro to fado. Listen to Amalia’s powerful voice, think about the meaning of the lyrics & let those emotions out. I won’t tell.
Quem dorme à noite comigo?
É meu segredo!
Mas se insistirem, lhes digo.
O medo mora comigo,
Mas só o medo!
Who sleeps at night with me?
It’s my secret!
But if you insist, I’ll tell you.
Fear lives with me,
E cedo, porque me embala
Num vaivém de solidão,
É com silêncio que fala,
Com voz de móvel que estala
E nos perturba a razão.
And I give in, because it wraps me
in an endless circle of solitude,
It speaks with silence,
With a voice of furniture that creaks
And drives us crazy.
Gritar? Quem pode salvar-me
Do que está dentro de mim?
Gostava até de matar-me.
Mas eu sei que ele há-de esperar-me
Ao pé da ponte do fim.
Scream? Who can save me
From what’s inside of me?
I’d even like to kill myself.
But I know that it will wait for me
At the foot of the final bridge.
Update (09 Dec 2013): Interesting new version of this song, paired with piano played by Júlio Resende.