Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Waters of March

Did you know that in Brazil it only rains in March?

Well, neither did I.

Last night, while listening to that modern marvel that is the iPod random shuffle, I came upon a song I'd never heard, an "album cut" on a Nancy LaMott live CD. (Aside: If you want to hear a tragic story, Google Nancy LaMott.) The song is called "Waters of March" and was written by the legendary guitarist/composer Antonio Carlos Jobim.

According to Wikipedia, March is the rainy season in Rio de Janeiro. Inhabitants look forward to it because the water quenches thirst. Inhabitants fear it because it brings floods.

This is an incredible, almost Shakespearean, dichotomy. The song is poignant, but not dramatic or sentimental. I think I expected something with distinct movements and bombast, a Brazilian "MacArthur Park." Instead, it is understated, but with a downward progression, like precipitation.

Here is a piece of the English translation of the Portuguese lyrics:

A stick, a stone, it's the end of the road; it's the rest of a stump, it's a little alone; It's a sliver of glass; it is life, it's the sun; It is night, it is death; it's a trap, it's a gun.

Believe it or not, Coke used the song as a jingle in the 1980s. Art Garfunkel recorded it. So did others.

What elevates this above trivia is the notion that what brings you life also kills you.

A point to ponder, in March or any other rainy month.

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