Nov 24 1996

Gonzaguinha: No Samba

Optimism in Sambas


No SambaIn 1991, Brazilian Popular Music (Música Popular Brasileira, MPB) suffered a tremendous loss when Gonzaguinha (September 1945 – April 1991) died in a car accident. One of the most respected songwriters in Brazil, Gonzaguinha left behind a legacy of songs dealing with love, life and, most importantly, the struggle of the common Brazilian people. Although I do not particularly enjoy compilations – they are ok if you are beginning to discover a certain artist – this CD is actually a good product because it shows some of Gonzaguinha’s musical samba heritage. Some people might be familiar with his torch songs through performers such as Maria Bethânia, Zizi Possi, Simone and many others. Here, however, we have that inebriant Brazilian rhythm more closely associated with Carnaval: the samba. So, let us embark on this musical journey, and get ready to samba!

Gonzaguinha no Samba showcases 16 songs written by Gonzaguinha covering his entire career. The performances are solid and some even have the help of a few of his friends: MPB-4, Marília Medalha, Fundo de Quintal and Martinho de Vila. Since the days of Brazilian music festivals in the 1970’s, Gonzaguinha always created controversy, whether with his sharp political and social lyrics or long melodies. Whether singing about the plight of the Brazilian workers in “Comportamento Geral” or narrating the Brazilian history in a humorous exultation samba, as in “Desenredo,” Gonzaguinha’s music is a portrait of Brazil. It will definitely move you, even if you don’t understand the words or know how to samba.

In spite of the strong social content and frequent sarcasm in Gonzaguinha’s lyrics, his music is very lively. From the opening track, “O Que É, o Que É,” the listener cannot help but live with Gonzaguinha the promise of a beautiful day. That song has become a classic in MPB. In “Amanhã ou Depois/Achados e Perdidos/Pequena Memória para um Tempo sem Memória (A Legião dos Esquecidos),” Gonzaguinha takes us to a time when Brazil was still under a military government. Gonzaguinha created a magnificent samba about those lost-and-never-found heroes who gave their lives for a new day free from the military government. This new day is a constant thread in Gonzaguinha’s songs. It is the same day that closes Gonzaguinha no Samba with “Com a Perna no Mundo”:

Presente é a porta aberta e futuro é o que virá.
The present is an open door, and the future is what will come.

The entire CD is a lesson of optimism and upbeat sambas.



No Samba 
EMI M 827041 2 (1996)
Time: 60’30”


All music by Gonzaguinha, except where noted.

  1. O Que É, o Que É
  2. Deixa Dilson e Vamos Nelson
  3. Artistas da Vida
  4. Amanhã ou Depois/Achados e Perdidos/Pequena Memória para um Tempo sem Memória (A Legião dos Esquecidos) – w/ Marília Medalha, Roberto Ribeiro & MPB-4
  5. Tem Dia que de Noite é Assim
  6. E Vamos à Luta
  7. Desenredo (G.R.E.S. Unidos do Pau Brasil) (Gonzaguinha – Ivan Lins)
  8. Bom Dia – w/ Martinho da Vila
  9. Comportamento Geral
  10. A Fábrica dos Sonhos
  11. Geral
  12. Geraldinos e Arquibaldos
  13. Nem o Pobre Nem o Rei
  14. Tá Certo Doutor
  15. O Homem Falou – w/ Fundo de Quintal
  16. Com a Perna no Mundo

A modified version of this review first appeared in Luna Kafé in November 1996.