The first place I set foot in South America was Buenos Aires back in 2009. There are many, many reasons to love Argentina’s capital – the food, the vibrant culture, the beautiful architecture to name a few. You can almost feel history – it seems to seep from every bar and street corner you pass. One of the things I particularly enjoyed seeing there was a certain kind of South American gentleman.
As I wandered the streets I would occasionally pass an old guy dressed in 3 piece suit, walking stick and moustache, all of which seemed to hark back to a bygone era. My South American history was (and still is) very patchy, but these old men made me think of the 1930s-1950s. It was a real pleasure to see these guys and I was lucky enough to get chatting to a couple of them one night in a restaurant. They were friendly, interesting and delighted to hear that I had left everything behind to have an adventure. Speaking to them was like stepping back in time.
Well the performer of today’s carnival marchinha reminds me of those old South American gents. Funnily enough it turns out he was born in Buenos Aires, but soon moved to São Paulo and then Rio. Take a look at Carlos Galhardo:
So that is our singer. Now let’s get to today’s marchinha de carnaval – it’s a fun one!
As you listen to this, imagine yourself at a carnival bloco: the sun is shining, you’re feeling merry (maybe you’ve had a few drinks) and you’re in the middle of a huge, happy carnival crowd. The jazz band of this recording would be replaced by a carnival band, heavy on the drums and the brass section. Everyone sings along together…
This was a carnival hit in 1941. It’s a simple song about some Egyptian Arabs who have crossed the Sahara Desert.
As I’m sure you can imagine, this is a real crowd pleaser. Who, on hearing this, wouldn’t want to join in with the chorus? So listen to this a few times and you’ll be ready for the real thing when it comes on during carnival. Allah-lá-ô-ô-ô-ô-ô-ô!