Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Baía in Song: "Na Baixa do Sapateiro" and "Você Já Foi à Bahia?"

One of the most hypnotic sequences of song and animation in Disney's oeuvre is the song Baía from The Three Caballeros. José Carioca, the cigar-chomping Brazilian parrot, asks Donald if he has ever been to the state of Baía. When he answers in the negative, José creates a picture in song of the sleepy region and its capital Salvador. Though our host is clearly from Rio de Janeiro - the term "Carioca" refers to people from there - the romantic image he paints of Baía can create a longing in anyone's heart for languid South American cities of 70 years ago.

The Three Caballeros (1944) and Saludos Amigos (1942), the two films to come out of Walt Disney's goodwill tout of South America, were as much steeped in the popular music of their time as Make Mine Music and Melody Time. All four films dated from the period of Disney's wartime "package" films, which took the route of bundling together an anthology of shorts built around music. They were equal parts heir to Fantasia and the Silly Symphonies shorts. For the two Latin American films, the popular music hailed from Latin America.

The song that Disney turned into Baía was originally written in 1938 as Na Baixa do Sapateiro by Ary Barroso. Translating to English as "In the Shoemaker's Hollow," it tells the story of a humble shoemaker in Salvador who holds out the torch of unrequited love for a dark-haired young lady. The Portuguese lyrics are as follows:
Ai, amor ai, ai
Amor, bobagem que
a gente não explica ai, ai
Prova um bocadinho, oi
Fica envenenando, oi
E pro resto da vida é um tal de sofrer
Ô lará, ô lerê
Ô Bahia, iaiá
Bahia que não me sai do pensamento
Faço o meu lamento, oi
Na desesperança, oi
De encontrar nesse mundo
O amor que eu perdi na Bahia
Vou contar
Na Baixa do Sapateiro
Eu encontrei um dia
A morena mais frajola da Bahia
Pedi um beijo, não deu
Um abraço, sorriu
Pedi a mão, não quis dar
Bahia, terra de felicidade
Morena, ah morena
Eu ando louco de saudade
Meu Senhor do Bonfim
Arranje outra morena
Igualzinha prá mim
Ai Bahia, iaiá 
Ray Gilbert rewrote the song for Disney, altering the lyrics to...
Oh Baía, when twilight is deep in the sky, Baiá
Someone that I long to see, keeps haunting my memory
And so the loneliness deep in my heart calls to you, calls to you! 
Oh Baía, I live in the memory of many dreams ago
When the stars were bright and you were mine alone
My love for you cannot die, though the oceans run dry
Or heaven's call from the sky, now you’re gone! 
Baía, can’t you hear my lonely call?
Morena, make my life complete again!
How I pray for the day when I'll see your smile
And my heart will beat again! 
Oh Baía, when twilight is deep in the sky, Baía
Someone that I long to see, keeps haunting my memory
And so the loneliness deep in my heart calls to you, calls to you!
Oh Baía... 
The alteration served Barroso well. After its release, the song was intended to be used by Carmen Miranda for her film Banana da Terra, but the licencing fees demanded by Barroso proved prohibitive. Disney's deep pockets could easily afford it, and in its rewritten form has been played and covered countless times.

Ary Barroso's original recording of  Na Baixa do Sapateiro

José decides that the pair must see Baía, and launches into a rendition of Você Já Foi à Bahia? Unlike Na Baixa do SapateiroVocê Já Foi à Bahia? was a direct and accurate performance. The title translates to "Have You Ever Been to Baía?" and José's rendition switches freely between Portuguese and English. The original was written by Dorival Caymmi in 1941, being successful on its release and hitting international acclaim after being featured in The Three Caballeros.

Dorival Caymmi's recording of Você Já Foi à Bahia? 

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