Music Mondays: Grândola, Vila Morena

On every corner, a friend
In every face, equality
Grândola, swarthy town
Land of brotherhood

Zeca Afonso: Grândola, Vila Morena

Today’s song is from History is Made at Night. Here’s a short extract from a great post.

n April 1974, left leaning military officers overthrew the Portuguese dictatorship and ended its colonial wars in Africa. For the next two years Portugal was in turmoil, with workers taking over workplaces and many hoping to push the revolution further. The radio stations were one of the key sites of struggle, in particular Rádio Renascença.

The Revolution Started with a Song by John Hoyland (Street Life, November 1 1975): 

‘3 am, April 25 1974. By prior arrangement with the rebel Armed Forces Movement (AFM), a DJ on Lisbon’s Radio Renascenca plays ‘Grandola, Vila Morena’, a popular song of the day whose possible subversive meaning had escaped the censor’s ears. The song is a signal for a military uprising that, with scarcely any opposition, overthrows the Caetano Government, and brings to an end 50 years of fascism in Portugal. The next day, the people pour into the streets, and give the soldiers red carnations. The soldiers stick the flowers in their guns…’

Previous: The music of the carnation revolution, The Carnation revolution, Anarchist fado.

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Music Monday 1: Carnation revolution

It is today the anniversary of the Portuguese carnation revolution.

Maurice Brinton:

Like all radical endeavours in history the upsurge was a joyful affair, at least to start with. An immensely popular song, after April 25th, was entitled Gaibota (the seagull). Poster wit, although perhaps never achieving the insights of May 1968 in France, nevertheless developed into a telling instrument of social critique. The anarchists ensured that it was used as often against the ‘left’ as against more obvious targets. With the joy went a very Portuguese toughness.

The Fado persisted,not as an embodiement of despair and resignation (as claimed by the superficial sociologists ) but as a down-to-earth and uncompromising statement of the life of the poor. I recall a letter Phil once wrote me. He was entering the Alentejo : “The tiny hills begin to roll across the flat countryside. Crouched eucalyptus trees hide in the barren dales. Here is a land of tradition, of rich struggles against elements and of wine, olives and music, of landowners alike, a land of everyday survival, difficult to penetrate except by those who care for it. It is as if the stunted growth of the trees said all that needed to be said about hardship, abandonment, work – about the constant fight against a poor and unyielding soil on which lived giant women and monstrous men. But however ungrateful the land, the spirit was never crippled…”.

Although not songs of revolt the fados testify to this indestructibility of the oppressed, to this deep unity of man and nature. Romany roots endow some songs with a fierce pride, with a scorn for what ‘the bourgeois’ will think or say, enabling them boldly to deal with such themes as women’s right to sexual pleasure. No sentimentality, no soothing syrup. Love may mean pain, but is worth it. No neurotic trendiness. Just things as they are.Is not this the raw material of which revolution will be made?

Here is A gaviota, also known as Somos livres, We are free.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 7:27 am  Comments (3)  
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25 April 1974

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Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 11:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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