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Dorival Caymmi

Semira Adler Vainsencher
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Researcher
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Dorival Caymmi was born in Salvador, Bahia, on 30 April 1914. Due to family circumstances, he had to interrupt his studies in his 1st year of intermediate school (today’s 5th grade), going to work as an office clerk and later as a sales clerk. At that time, the boy would learn to play the guitar by himself, developing a beautiful and peculiar style.

At the beginning of his professional career, he was also a journalist and a singer at Rádio Clube da Bahia. In 1936, the young Bahian won a carnival song contest, and encouraged by friends, instead of taking the preparatory course for the Faculty of Law, he followed a music career.

With very little money in his pocket in 1938, Caymmi decided to move to Rio de Janeiro. A short time later, led by Lamartine Babo and Assis Valente, he debuted on Rádio Nacional with his song Noite de temporal [Stormy Night]. He was then hired by Rádio Tupy, where he began his artistic life singing No tabuleiro da baiana [On the Bahian’s Tray].

After that, the composer would be invited by the filmmaker Lawrence Downey to replace Carmen Miranda with one of his songs. In this sense, his composition O que é que a baiana tem [What Is It That the Bahia Woman Has] was included in the film Banana-da-terra. And in the February of 1939, the man from Bahia recorded his first album with Carmen Miranda through Odeon.

There are two important facts that would contribute positively to the composer’s career worth recording: the first one represented what was mentioned above; and the second was the inclusion of another of his compositions – O Mar [The Sea] – in the repertoire of a show promoted by Darcy Vargas, the wife of the then President Getúlio Vargas. From then on, Caymmi would experience a period of success. On the other hand, it was at Rádio Nacional that he met the newbie Stella Maris, a girl he married in 1940 and with whom he would have three children – Dory, Naná and Danilo. Like their father, they too would pursue music careers.

Dorival Caymmi was always a good cook and a great connoisseur of the mysteries of Bahia cuisine. In order to enhance his experience, he would compose a sui generis samba, describing the stages of making the vatapá:


Quem quiser vatapá, oi,
Que procure fazer primeiro o fubá,
Depois o dendê...
Anyone who wants vatapá, hey,
Let him make the cornmeal first,
Then the palm oil...
 
In 1947, the song Mariana began his samba-song phase. After that came Marina, a slower and more sophisticated samba that began like this:
Marina, morena, Marina, você se pintou,
Marina, você faça tudo, mas faça um favor...
Marina, dark-skinned, Marina, you painted yourself,
Marina, you do everything, but do me a favour...
In the 1950s, Caymmi would compose the song Só louco [Just Crazy], another beautiful samba-song where he stated:

 
Só louco, amou como eu amei,
Só louco, quis o bem que eu lhe quis...
Just a crazy person, loved you as I did,
Just a crazy person, wanted you as intensely as I did ...

One of his best-known sambas, however, was the song Rosa Morena [Dark-skinned Rose], which singer João Gilberto would once again make a success many years later when he re-recorded it in the early 1960s:
Rosa, Morena, onde estás Morena Rosa,
Com essa rosa nos cabelos
E esse andar de moça prosa,
Ô Rosa, Morena, Morena Rosa...
Rose, dark-skinned, where are you dark-skinned Rose,
With that rose in your hair
And that cute girl’s walk,
Oh Rose, Dark-skinned, Dark-skinned Rose...

 
It is worth mentioning that although the artist composed and sang a considerable repertoire of songs, it was his praieira [from the beach] songs – those that exalted the beauties of Bahia – that most stood out in the Brazilian popular songbook. Even in his 90s and suffering from heart problems, Dorival Caymmi still sang in public alongside his children.

The artist’s most celebrated songs are the following: É doce morrer no mar [It Is Sweet to Die at Sea]; A lenda do Abaeté [The legend of Abaeté]; Marina; Promessa de Pescador [Promise of Fisherman]; Saudade de Itapoã [Longing for Itapoã]; João Valentão; Dora; Rosa Morena; Maracangalha; Saudades da Bahia [Longing for Bahia]; Sábado em Copacabana [Saturday in Copacabana]; Não tem solução [There is No Solution]; Quem vem pra beira do mar [Who Comes to the Seashore]; Doralice; Nem eu [Me Neither]; O vento [The Wind]; 365 igrejas [365 Churches]; Lá vem a baiana [Here Comes the Bahia Woman]; Dona Chica; Suíte dos pescadores [Fishermen’s Suite]; Dois de fevereiro [February 2nd]; Samba da minha terra [Samba of My Land]; A jangada voltou só [The Raft Came Back Alone]; Nunca mais [Never Again]; Eu chego lá [I’ll Get There]; Só louco [Just Crazy]; Oração pra Mãe Menininha [Prayer for Mother Menininha]; Juliana; Canto de Obá [Song for Obá]; Eu não tenho onde morar [I Have Nowhere to Live]; and Das rosas [From the Roses].

For the admirers of Caymmi, two beautiful compositions are transcribed below:

A Jangada voltou só

A jangada saiu com Chico Ferreira e Bento,
A jangada voltou só.
Com certeza foi lá fora um pé de vento,
A jangada voltou só.
Chico era o boi do rancho,
Nas festas de Natal,
Não se ensaiava o rancho,
Sem com o Chico se contar.
E agora que não tem Chico,
Que graça que pode ter,
Se Chico foi na jangada,
E a jangada voltou só...
A jangada saiu com Chico Ferreira e Bento,
A jangada voltou só.
Com certeza foi lá fora um pé de vento,
A jangada voltou só...
Bento cantando modas,
Muita figura fez.
Bento tinha bom peito,
E pra cantar não tinha vez.
As moças de Jaguaripe,
Choraram de fazer dó,
Seu Bento foi na jangada,
E a jangada voltou só.

 

The Raft Came Back Alone.

The raft left with Chico Ferreira and Bento,
The raft came back alone.
Surely out there was a gust of wind,
The raft came back alone.
Chico was the ranch’s ox,
At Christmas parties,
The ranch was not rehearsed,
Without counting on Chico.
And now that there is no Chico,
What fun can there be,
If Chico went out on the raft,
And the raft came back alone...
The raft left with Chico Ferreira and Bento,
The raft came back alone.
Surely out there was a gust of wind,
The raft came back alone.
Bento singing songs,
Lots of fun he was.
Benedict had a good heart,
And singing there was no equal.
The girls of Jaguaripe,
They cried so much it hurt,
Their Bento went out on the raft,
And the raft came back alone.
 
 
 
Rosa Morena

Rosa Morena, onde vais morena Rosa,
Com essa rosa no cabelo e esse andar de moça prosa, morena, morena Rosa,
Rosa morena o samba está esperando, esperando pra te ver
Deixa de lado esta coisa de dengosa, anda Rosa, vem me ver,
Deixa de lado esta pose, vem pro samba, vem sambar,
Que o pessoal está cansado de esperar, Oh! Rosa,
Que o pessoal está cansado de esperar, morena Rosa,
Que o pessoal está cansado de esperar, viu Rosa.

 

Rosa Morena

Dark-skinned Rose, where are you going dark-skinned Rose,
With that rose in your hair and that cute girl’s walk, dark-skinned, dark-skinned Rose
Dark-skinned Rose the samba is waiting, waiting to see you
Let go of this needy thing, walk Rose, come and see me,
Put aside this pose, come to the samba, come dance samba,
The people are tired of waiting, Oh! Rose,
The people are tired of waiting, dark-skinned Rose,
The people are tired of waiting, don’t you see, Rose.

 
For decades, Dorival Caymmi told and sang about the life of the fishermen, the beaches, the sea, the orishas, the churches, and the women of Bahia. Undoubtedly, the quality of his musical production and his inimitable style have guaranteed him a privileged place amongst the greatest Brazilian composers.

Dorival Caymmi passed away on 16 August 2008 at the age of 94, at his home in the Copacabana neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.


 
 Recife, 31 October 2006.
(Updated on 22 November 2007).
Translated by Peter Leamy, October 2016.

 

SOURCES CONSULTED:

 

ALBIN, Ricardo Cravo. Dorival Caymmi: um breve panorama de sua obra discográfica através de sua vida. Cultura, Brasília, a. 4, n. 14, p. 96-103, jul./set. 1974.

DORIVAL Caymmi. Disponível em:<http://www.cifrantiga.hpg.ig.com.br/Crono2/caymmi.html> . Acesso em: 23 mar. 2005.

DORIVAL Caymmi. Disponível em: <http://www.cliquemusic.com.br/artistas/dorival-caymmi.asp> . Acesso em: 23 mar. 2005.

DORIVAL Caymmi. Disponível em: <http://www.dorival-caymmi.buscaletras.com.br>.  Acesso em: 23 mar. 2005.

DORIVAL Caymmi. Disponível em: <http://www.mpb.com.br/mujsicos/corival.caymmi/>.   Acesso em: 23 mar. 2005.

DORIVAL  Caymmi (1914). Disponível em: <http://www.e-biografias.net/dorival_caymmi.php.  Acesso em 1 maio 2005.

DORIVAL Caymmi. Disponível em: <http://www2.uol.com.br/dorivalcaymmi/ >.  Acesso em 23 mar. 2005

DORIVAL Caymmi. Disponível em: <http://revistaepoca.globo.com/Epoca/0,6993EPT703614-1655,00.html>.  Acesso em: 23 mar. 2005.

INDICE geral das musicas no MPBNet. Disponível em:<http://www.mpbnet.com.br/textos/geral.html>. Acesso em: 1º maio 2005.

LETRAS de músicas. Disponível em:<http://caetanoveloso.letrasdemusicas.com.br/artista.php2id=884>   Acesso em: 1º maio 2005.


 

HOW TO CITE THIS TEXT:

Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Dorival Caymmi. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Acesso em: dia  mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.

 

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