Wednesday, March 29, 2006:

The Roots Canal (guest blog): Brazilian soul food

Kenia — Sina
Manhattan Transfer — Soul Food to Go
I have a confession to make. I listened to these records separately for years before I made the connection that they were the same song. How lame is that?

The Brazilian-American singer Kenia does the popular Djavan song Sina. Since my Portuguese doesn't go much beyond hello and goodbye, I ran the lyrics through Babelfish and was surprised by a couple of words that didn't translate. One was the title. I still don't know what "sina" means. Another was an interesting word, "caetanear." According to this article, it's a unique Portuguese word derived from the Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso. It's as if English had a word like "dylanize." Maybe "kafkaesque" comes closest. (Curiously, Caetano once recorded this song, too.)

Is Manhattan Transfer still around? This song comes from their 1987 album, Brasil. When I first realized it was the same song as Sina, I assumed it was a direct translation because it included the only words I could recognize from the Portuguese: "Art Nouveau." Only later did I discover those were pretty much the only words that survived in the English version. "Soul Food to Go" has completely new lyrics by Doug Fieger, better known as lead singer of the Knack.

Bonus track: Kenia's English rendition of the modern Brazilian classic, "Madalena," is the best interpretation I've heard. (Not that I've heard too many.) This song is from a 1984 jazz album she made with trumpeter Claudio Roditi and Paquito D'Rivera. To my knowledge, this album has never been released as a CD.
Kenia — Madalena

[Kenia — Initial Thrill]
[Manhattan Transfer — Brasil]
[Claudio Roditi with Kenia — Red on Red]
Well, there's also "Hitchcockian" and "Bergmanesque." ... I wonder if it's common at all outside the arts to turn someone's name into an adjective describing their work.

"Sina" sounds very much like an early summer track, something that should be on the radio on a drive to the beach.

Incidentally, I know someone named Sina; in her case it's a Samoan word. No help for these lyrics, I'm afraid.

I have a certain inexplicable fondness for non-cover cover versions, like Iggy Pop's version of "Louie Louie" with lyrics about Gorbachev.

Yes, Caetanear comes from Caetano Veloso (Dylanize was a good translation) and "sina" means "fate."

This is an interesting question about the verbs. I've heard people referring to Bogarting some nachos, or having to MacGyver a lock, or locking their keys out and having to Spiderman it up to a second-floor balcony to get back in, but that's about all I can think of. All colloquial, of course.

"Bogart" is the only one of those that's made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, predating Beavis and Butthead by at least 30 years:
1. trans. U.S. (esp. in African-American usage). To force, coerce; to bully, intimidate.
1966 Current Slang (Univ. S. Dakota) 1 II. 1 Bogart, to injure or hurt, or to protect at the cost of violence. High school male, Negro, Mid-Atlantic Coast (Washington, D.C.). Them 'bama chukkers better not bogart us no more.
2. trans. orig. and chiefly U.S. To appropriate (a marijuana cigarette) greedily or selfishly. Hence more generally: to take or use most of; to steal. Also occas. intr.
Popularized by the 1969 U.S. film Easy Rider, the soundtrack of which featured the song cited in quot. 1968.
1968 "FRATERNITY OF MAN" Don't bogart Me (transcription of song) in (O.E.D. archive), Don't bogart that joint, my friend Pass it over to me.

I see gives some rather, uh, different definitions of what it means to Spider-man. :-X

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