It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

Brazilian song-writer Caetano Veloso and his mother

 
 

“Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

Temptation’s page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you’d just be one more
Person crying

So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Except hatred

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it

Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit
To satisfy, insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something they invest in

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes must get lonely

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only”

 Bob Dylan

It was written in the summer of 1964. Although he was prepared to take his time developing the song, as he did with Mr. Tambourine Man, he finished it in time for inclusion on the Bringing It All Back Home album, which was recorded in January 1965 Described by Dylan biographer Howard Sounes as a “grim masterpiece,” the song features some of Dylan’s most memorable lyrical images. The lyrics express Dylan’s anger at hypocrisy, commercialism, consumerism, warmongers and contemporary American culture, but unlike his earlier protest songs, It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) does not express optimism in the possibility of political solutions.

Dylan has cited It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) as one of his songs that means the most to him. In 1980 he stated that “I don’t think I could sit down now and write ‘It’s Alright, Ma’ again. I wouldn’t even know where to begin, but I can still sing it.” In 1997, Dylan told The New York Times, “I’ve written some songs that I look at, and they just give me a sense of awe. Stuff like, ‘It’s Alright, Ma,’ just the alliteration in that blows me away.”

The song has been covered by a number of other artists, including Roger McGuinn, The Byrds, Billy Preston, Hugo Race, Terence Trent D’Arby, Mick Farren, Caetano Veloso, Marilyn Scott, and The Duhks.

The cover performed by Caetano Veloso can be listened through a link posted on The Genealogy of the Style’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

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A Foreign Sound

Concept, graphic design, and photography by Miguel Rio Branco.

The album’s title seems derived from a line of a Bob Dylan’s song, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding): “So don’t fear if you hear/ A foreign sound to your ear”

 
 

Caetano Veloso is widely recognized as one of the world’s most original artists and has been hailed by as “one of the greatest songwriters of the century.” Still Veloso never hesitates to acknowledge those who influence his own music—whether the bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto or the seminal filmmaker Federico Fellini. His first album sung entirely in English, A Foreign Sound reveals the diversity of American songwriters he has loved and studied over the years, from Irving Berlin, Rodgers & Hart, and Cole Porter to Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and David Byrne.

A Foreign Sound is a culmination of Veloso’s longstanding and multifarious exploration of American music. Surprising and imaginative interpretations of American songs have been a staple of his recent live shows, and they have made occasional appearances on his studio albums over the years. As he explains in his acclaimed memoir, Tropical Truth: A Story of Music & Revolution in Brazil (Knopf 2002), he came to some of his favorite American singers and musicians—including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, and the Modern Jazz Quartet—by tracing the steps of his foremost musical hero, Joao Gilberto. On A Foreign Sound, Veloso interprets several songs he first learned listening to these artists in the early 1960s, including So In Love, Love for Sale, Manhattan, and Body and Soul. Other songs have particular significance in the context of Brazilian culture.

Veloso’s approach to the music varies from track to track. While on some songs he is backed by a 28-piece orchestra, on others his only accompaniment is his signature acoustic guitar playing. Love for Sale is recorded completely a cappella. Among the many accomplished musicians featured on the album are Caetano’s son Moreno and his longtime collaborator Jaques Morelenbaum, who contributes as arranger, conductor and cellist.

Sad Dove

Theatrical poster

 
 

Cucurrucucú paloma is a Mexican Huapango song written by Tomás Méndez in 1954 and introduced by Lola Beltrán in the film Cucurrucucú Paloma (Miguel Delgado, 1965). The song also appeared in other movies, such as Escuela de vagabundos (Rogelio A. González, 1955), considered one of the finest comedies of Mexican cinema, later adapted from the screenplay for the MGM movie Merrily We Live (Norman Z. McLeod, 1938); The Last Sunset (Robert Aldrich, 1961); Happy Together (Wong Kar-wai 1997); Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002);  My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (Werner Herzog, 2009); and The Five-Year Engagement (Nicholas Stoller, 2012). It has also been recorded by popular singers such as Luis Miguel, Rocío Dúrcal, Pedro Infante, Perry Como, Caetano Veloso, Miguel Aceves Mejía, Harry Belafonte, Nana Mouskouri, Julio Iglesias, Shirley Kwan, Lila Downs, Joan Baez (on her album Gracias a la Vida), Rosemary Clooney, and The Del Rubio Triplets.

It was played as a regular huapango song until Harry Belafonte sang it in Carnegie Hall like an <a title="Art song". Lola Beltrán's original rendering is considered by Mexicans to be the most powerful and faithful to the spirit of the song.

 
 

 
 

Original Spanish Lyrics:

“Dicen que por las noches
no mas se le iba en puro llorar,
dicen que no comía
no mas se le iba en puro tomar;
juran que el mismo cielo
se estremecía al oír su llanto
Cómo sufrió por ella,
que hasta en la muerte la fué llamando:

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, cantaba,
ay, ay, ay, ay, gemía,
ay, ay, ay, ay, lloraba,
de pasión mortal moría.

Que una paloma triste
muy de mañana le va a cantar
a la casita sola
con las puertitas de par en par;
juran que esa paloma
no es otra cosa mas que su alma,
que todavía la espera
a que regrese la desdichada.

Cucurrucucú, paloma,
cucurrucucú, no llores.
Las piedras jamás, paloma
qué van a saber de amores.

Cucurrucucú, cucurrucucú,
cucurrucucú, paloma ya no le llores.”

 
 

 
 

English Translation:

They say that every night
he was wholly overtaken by tears;
They say he never ate, but only drank
They swear that even the heavens
trembled to hear his wail,
he suffered for her so,
that even in death, he never stopped calling for her:

“Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay,” he sang,
“Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay,” he howled,
“Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay,” he sang,
from a deadly passion, he died

They say that in early morning a sad dove sings to the little empty house
with its wide open little doors.
They swear that the dove
is none other than his spirit,
hoping still for the return, of the ill-fated woman.

Cucucrrucucu, dove
cucucrrucucu, don´t cry
What will these stones ever know, little dove, about love?

cucurrucucu, cucurrucucu
cucurrucucu, dove don´t cry anymore…)

 
 

Arielle Dombasle performed the song during Jean Paul Gaultier Spring Summer 2010 Haute Couture show. By the way, she descends from French-American immigrants in Mexico under her grandfather’s diplomatic tenure