IntroductionProtest for the portuguese political andsocial changes, particularly

IntroductionProtest songs are songs made with the purpose to draw attention to one or moresocial/political/economical problem. Usually considered a subcategory of folk music, it wasvery common in the 1960s and 1970s decades and Portugal, living the last moments of thefascist regime “Estado Novo”, was no exception. In this paper we will focus on some protestmusicians and their work to prove how important it was for the portuguese political andsocial changes, particularly the carnation revolution,Zeca AfonsoJosé Manuel Cerqueira Afonso dos Santos, better known, as Zeca Afonso was one of themost important elements in what Albano Viseu calls “a movement of awareness (…) tomobilize a whole human mass that became receptive to the overpowering and transformingappeals of his lyrics. This movement shaped the challenge to the social phenomena thataffected the Portuguese society, and made possible to breach the structured old edifice ofEstado Novo, once the problems were detected. People sang and lived silently, sharingconcepts and ideas concealed in the messages of the songs. This silent revolution preparedthe Portuguese people for the change and the revolution of April .” This are pretty big claims 1for a singer but, nonetheless, totally deserved. Born on 1929 in Aveiro, this singer andcomposer had an early childhood with a strong connection with nature in Mozambique and 2later an elementary education marked by the strong fascist dictatorship when, for instance, hehad to wear the Mocidade Portuguesa’s (the portuguese fascist youth organization) suitapparel. With an early separation from his parents, who went to Timor, where they would becaptives of the japanese occupiers between 1942 and 1945, Afonso went to Coimbra for hishigh school and higher education. Here he starts to assimilate the environment of change thatstarted to be felt in this city, and he meets some music masters who got him really interestedin the art, including António Portugal, Flávio Rodrigues and Cristina Matos. While he records1 first single “Fados de Coimbra”, his first son is born and they live great financialdifficulties, so he gives private lessons and revises texts in the newspaper “Diário deCoimbra”. At this moment he was still singing the most famous portuguese genre: Fado,which is not exactly known for its direct political engagement. Although, as a 1937 edition ofthe portuguese communist newspaper Jornal Avante! points out , there was, “in the bourgeois 3press a campaign against fado”. They go on by claiming that “in a nation where rulers makeevery effort to keep the working population out of any manifestations of art, fado is one ofthe few possibilities left for the workers to manifest themselves artistically. The verses thatsing and the music that accompanies them are of anonymous authors, they are of the ownworkers. They may even be, and have been, many times, the first steps to enter into moreperfect and more difficult art paths.” It goes even deeper: “We therefore defend fado becauseit is a manifestation of popular art and because it is a means of propaganda quite sensitive tothe proletarian strata. From this point of view we consider that the antifascists must developand elevate the artistic elements that fado contains, freeing it from all the strange influenceswith which the enemies of popular culture and the interests of the people seek to corrupt it.Fado is of the people!”If this seems like a deviation from talking about Zeca Afonso, let’s not forget the importanceof communist ideology to him. Not only was he expelled from University for his politicalviews , he was usually involved in political movements mainly organized by PCP, the 4portuguese communist party. He also called the PREC, the left-wing political process afterthe Carnation Revolution that tried unsuccessfully to finally bring the country to Socialism,”something magnificent”. At this time, he was travelling the country from one end to theother, in “endless sessions, action for dynamization and campaigns for literacy”. His firstintervention songs, though, were made in, probably, his richest musical period, between 1962and 1968. The connection between him and the french May 68 is obvious, by the way, justlook at his 1963 Bachelor thesis titled “Substantial Implications in Sartrian Philosophy” forevidence. Os Vampiros about the oppression of capitalism and Menino do Bairro Negroabout the misery of a poor neighborhood in Porto were both censored by the regime. Aftervisiting a lot of countries like Switzerland, Germany and Sweden to play alongside otherportugues musicians, Afonso came back to Portugal where in 1964 he joined a worker’s3 collective in Alentejo. There he got the inspiration to write Grândola, Vila Morena,one of the two songs (alongside Paulo de Carvalho’s Depois do Adeus) that would serve assignal for the the armed forces (MFA) to start the revolution in 25th April 1974. This is stillregarded as one of, if not the single most important song of the revolutionary period. In it, isdescribed a land of fraternity, where the people rules: “In every corner, a friend; In each face,equality; Grândola, vila morena; Land of fraternity” (“Em cada esquina, um amigo; Em cadarosto, igualdade; Grândola, vila morena; Terra da fraternidade”). His musical career had to bemanaged alongside his job as a high school teacher and his parenthood. He obviously had alot of problems with PIDE, the police of the regime, but after being expelled of the school, hegot to be a definitive symbol of the democratic resistance, keeps contact with the communistparty and ends up in jail. After that he exiles in Paris where he comes up with the awardwinning LP Cantares do Andarilho (at this time the newspaper were referring to him as theanagram Esoj Osnofa to avoid censorship). In one of the songs, Vejam Bem he warns “Thatthere aren’t just seagulls ashore; when a man starts to think” (“que não há só gaivotas emterra; quando um homem se põe a pensar”) in a clear connection to the current political andsocial events.Zeca AfonsoAdriano Correia de OliveiraNot so clear were the connections Adriano Correia de Oliveira made in his music. Thismusician born in 1942 in Porto, went to great lengths to circumvent the censorship, forexample in arguably his most important song Trova do Vento Que Passa (a song based on thepoem of the same name by Manuel Alegre) that soon became an anthem for the studentresistance to the dictatorship , he masked the explicit lyrics with the vocal tone making it 5difficult to distinguish the critical verse, from the refrain or even other verses. In this song heasks “the wind that passes; news from his country; and the wind shuts up the disgrace; thewind tells” him nothing. But “even in the saddest night; in times of servitude; there’s alwayssomeone who resists; There’s always someone who says no”. Just like Zeca Afonso, hestarted by singing fado in Coimbra and similarly, signed up as a member of PCP, gettinginvolved in the student’s strikes against Salazarism of 1962. Called up for military service, heleft his law degree with just one course to be completed. In 1970 he starts working in thepress office of FIL, Lisbon’s International fair. After the Carnation Revolution, Oliveiraco-funds a musical cooperative and then joins others where he played music until he died in1983 on the arms of his mother.FaustoCarlos Fausto Bordalo Gomes Dias, known only as Fausto, started playing a bit later. He wasborn on 1948, interestingly, aboard a ship called “Pátria” that was going from Portugal toAngola. It was in the latter country that he lived through his childhood and youth, and where 6he started to get interested in music, assimilating the african rhythms, which he would mix,later, with his portuguese origins. Still in Angola, he started the band Os Rebeldes reallyinfluenced by the pop music of the time. When he was 20, he went to Lisbon to finish hisBachelor in Socio-Political Sciences. At 21 (1969) he launched his first solo album, Faustowhich won a somewhat important revelation award. “Based on the development andstylization of the traditional Portuguese rhythm, to which he has always combined poetic and5 writing, Fausto’s career is unique in the Portuguese musical universe.” He soon gotto the top of Portugal’s sales with Em Busca das Montanhas Azuis. In a song from 1977called Uns Vão Bem e Outros Mal (Some go well, others bad), with a strong influence inportuguese folklore, Fausto claims “we don’t want oppressors here”, so if you “are a worker”,and “we keep really close to one another, the boss goes away”. The chorus still tells him: “doas you wish, do as you wish, but a dry leaf always falls. (…) I don’t want what you want, I’mfrom another condition”. Despite uplifting, this song still manages to talk about poverty,unemployment and more interestingly the housing crisis: “with old empty houses, abandonedpalaces, the poor made homes. But now everyday, well-armed cops empty the floors. Whatare those houses for, if not for the landlord to live off the speculation”. Later, it questions”How can someone with so different interests govern workers; If the one who lives well,living off his servants, has different values; (…) We don’t sing to forget, we sing toremember; ‘Cause this life will only change, when the one who lives working has the power”.He started to get closer to the likes of José Afonso and Adriano Correia de Oliveira and in1974 he was one of the founders of the collective GAC (Cultural Action Group) which wewill talk about later.Fausto’s highly acclaimed 1982 “Por este rio acima” album coverSérgio Godinho (and Chico Buarque)His collaboration in movies and theatre is eclipsed by the great impact of his award-winningmusic . Born in Porto in 1945, Sérgio Godinho left the country with only 20. In Switzerland 7he studied Psychology, in France he dedicated to music and theatre, living the May of 1968 inParis. Here he made several albums, then moved to Canada where he got married and gotestablished in a hippie community in Vancouver. Hearing about the revolution that had takenplace in Portugal, he went back and toured around the country in the popular manifestations,really common for this moment in History. Musics like “Com um brilhozinho nos olhos”about friendship and freedom, and “O Primeiro Dia” about facing each day as the first in anew life, really helped to generate a sense of optimism in the country. Godinho even got toplay with musicians like Chico Buarque, a behemoth of the protest music in Brazil,especially, but not only, with his attacks towards the military regime. An incredibleconnection between Buarque and Portugal is his song “Tanto Mar” celebrating the CarnationRevolution . There were two versions of this song. The first one was written in 1975 and 8started with him declaring to be “happy” with the “party”, and asking for the portuguese to”keep” him “a carnation” “while” he is “away”. He wishes he could be there “to take a flowerfrom the garden”, while claiming to be “sick” (referring to Brazil’s situation). “Sendurgently; Some rosemary smell”. The second version written in 1978 expresses a cleardisappointment with what ended up happening in Portugal. Here he claims to still keep an”old carnation” from the “pretty party”. “They withered your party”, he adds “but certainlyforgot a seed; in some corner of the garden”.José Mário BrancoOne of the people who played with Sérgio Godinho was José Mário Branco. Born in 1942 inPorto, he still lived in the poor fishing town Leça da Palmeira . He started to be active inside 9the catholic church and then the Portuguese Communist Party, which made the PIDE go after7 Branco went into exile in France, and with the Carnation Revolution he went back toPortugal to found GAC. While he is known for his protest songs and fado, his most popularwork is the album is FMI (portuguese for IMF – International Monetary Fund), which hecuriously doesn’t let be played in any public way like TV or radio. In this he expresses veryopenly his contempt for what was happening at the time, particularly the effects of theintervention of IMF in the country. The biggest songs, though, are arguably “Inquietação”and “Mudam-se os tempos, mudam-se as vontades”. The first is, as the title tells, aboutinquietation, the feeling that something is always about to happen, causing anxiety. Thesecond one, taking the title from a Luís de Camões’ poem, argues that “all the world is madeof change” (“todo o mundo é composto de mudança”). So in an optimistic way, tell us, that,even in the worst times, we should “turn them around, ’cause the day is still a child”(“Troquemos-lhe as voltas que ainda o dia é uma criança.”). Another one that has a fun tonebut, more of a feminist critique that manages to criticize the bourgeois lifestyle is “Casacomigo Marta” (Marry me Marta). It starts by presenting the male character, “Dr. DomGaspar” as a rich and protective man that had a big paxion for Marta, a poor woman that wastired to put up with him. “Marry me Marta, ’cause I’m dying to marry you”, he always asks,adding that he has a lot of money and properties, clothes and dishes to be washed, meals to becooked and a wonderful life waiting for her. One of the promises is even to make her the”queen of the idiots” of this world, probably the queen of the bourgeoisie is what is meanthere. She replies: “Marry you? No, you smartass; You’ll only get to me, inside a coffin”.There’s also “A cantiga é uma arma” where the the main character discovers that “singing isa weapon against the bourgeoisie”, but this was already part of the group GAC.GAC in actionGACCombing a lot of musicians including José Mário Branco, Fausto and Adriano Correia deOliveira, GAC (Cultural Action Group) was a really important, politically engaged collectiveborn out of the revolutionary period in 1974. For five years they played all around Portugal,in factories, in fields and barracks, influencing a lot of other collectives and musicians. A lotof their elements, like Adriano Correia de Oliveira started to leave the group because ofideological divergences, calling others revisionists (of marxism) or reformists(social-democrats). They soon created their own legal entity responsible for publishing theirmusic, and ended up releasing 4 albums. With an emphasis on traditional portuguese musicand instruments, they still made space for classical instruments, specially violins, oboes.Among their works are their own versions of the Communist International and the Anthem ofthe World Federation of Democratic Youth, a song praising workers called “As mãos dosTrabalhadores” and a critique of the housing market called “Casas sim! Barracas Não!”, allcreating this strong identity for the worker, focused on the oppression they suffer, alongsidetheir true political power for changing their conditions. Still, they released a lot of music thathad more impact because of their connection with the Communist Party. In “Até à vitóriafinal” an opposition to Capital and the suffering it creates, they promise to fight for thepeople’s cause and to give them what they deserve. “Cantar da Jorna” (singing of jorna – thepopular word for the work made in a day in the fields and also the payment for that dailywork) is first-person account of a worker that labours “from day to night” in the fields ownedby his “boss”. He talks about how tired and hungry he always feels, and how, sadly, “fish andmeat” is only for rich people and “garlic and burned olive oil” is only to “keep the peoplestanding”. “It always comes to my mind; That all of this is not right; Some own all the land;And don’t give anything away.” He adds, “There’s people who are really relaxed; always richtill death; And there’s people who live by their work; to make the others rich.” Finally, heclaims to “take the fight to heart”, “finish the servitude” and give the “land to the ones whowork it”, while holding his “candle” that always “illuminates in the darkness”.ConclusionPortuguese protest music had a strong impact on the political and social changes of thecountry. By using a musical language that appealed to everyone, they managed to spread a lotof ideas that were essential for the Carnation Revolution to take place. As Albano Viseuargues “Zeca Afonso participated in a movement of awareness and, like many singers ofsocial intervention, managed to mobilize a whole human mass that became receptive to theoverpowering and transforming appeals of his lyrics. This movement shaped the challenge tothe social phenomena that affected the Portuguese society, and made possible to breach thestructured old edifice of the New State, once the problems were detected. People sang andlived silently, sharing concepts and ideas concealed in the messages of the songs. This silentrevolution prepared the Portuguese people for the change and the revolution of April.” The 10contrast with today is remarkable. The portuguese music industry wants nothing to do withpolitical engagement in their products, specially the ones that challenges the status quo. Inrecent memory, the closest thing we had to protest musicians are “Homens da Luta” (Man ofthe Fight). A comedy sketch by two brothers, drawing inspiration in their image and messagefrom the protest musicians we talked about before. Their songs were basically a parody ofthis protest songs and they, even, ended up in the Eurovision competition with a lot of10 thrown their way. Even though they sparked a great nostalgia for the golden timesof protest music, this never seemed to have boosted a new political engagement, particularlyby the youth, which should be expected. But the golden times are now online, and youngpeople have certainly been listening to them and almost seeing a glimpse of an alternativereality where people could actually dream with something so unbelievable as coming togetherto make the world a better place for them.