Águas de Março

Last days have been very nice again and there is a distinctive feeling of spring in the air here in Cambridge. Although the temperatures are still hovering around low double digits, it is cold and crispy in a different way than it is in the autumn. It really is an elusive thing, hard to put your finger on.

I think nothing illustrates this kind of elusiveness better than the famous song by Antonio Carlos Jobim, called Águas de Março.

In addition to the score, Jobin also wrote the lyrics, both in Portugese and in English. Now, what makes the song so fascinating is the fact that it has become one of the classic, best loved songs about the spring in the English-speaking world, while in the original, “Waters of March” referred to the rainiest month in Rio de Janiero, the start of the autumn of the southern hemisphere. And it is not only the music that is the same, but also most of the words – there are some differences due to the removal of two specific lines of March marking the “end of the summer”, a few particular references to things Brazilian and the fact that when writing the English lyrics Jobin tried to avoid using words with Latin roots. However, most of the images and metaphors are the same, such as “É a promessa de vida no teu coração”/ “It’s a promise of life, a joy in your heart”, which I believe most of the listeners in the Northern hemisphere would strongly associate with spring rather than autumn.

And God, isn’t she gorgeous :).


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