Bye-Bye, Song Bird

    Bye-Bye, 
Song Bird

    Born on May 23, 1908 (some experts say it was in 1902), in São Cristóvão, Rio de
    Janeiro, Sílvio Antônio Narciso de Figueiredo Caldas could never make good on his
    repeated promises of abandoning music. Afflicted with heart problems he died on February
    2. He was living in Atibaia, in the interior of São Paulo, with his wife Miriam, 50, son
    Roberto, 21, daughter Camila, 20, and grandson Vinícius, 2.
    For the last 30 years Sílvio Caldas’ constant farewell concerts became a running gag
    in the Brazilian entertainment world. His weepy goodbye shows were so many that even his
    most faithful fans lost track of them. Friends, still lulled by his soothing music, still
    don’t believe that he has left for good. Said Nelson Rodrigues, another idol of his
    generation: "The people want him to always come back. And that 200 years from now he
    will come again for another farewell show."
    At age six, Caldas was already singing at Casa dos Bigodinhos (House of the Little
    Moustaches), a club in Minas Gerais state. Soon after he joined the Família Ideal, a
    Carnaval band. From this time came the nickname Rouxinol (Nightingale). He would get
    several other epithets during his seven-decade career, including : O Caboclinho Querido
    (The Dear Little Peasant), A Voz Morena que a Cidade Adora (The Brunet Voice that the City
    Adores), and O Seresteiro das Multidões (The Crowds’ Serenader).
    The singer was not ashamed of calling himself illiterate. Caldas abandoned school very
    early. At age 9 he was already an apprentice car mechanic, a métier in which he became an
    expert, moving in 1924 to São Paulo where he made a living fixing cars. He had plenty of
    odd jobs that would make him garimpeiro (gold prospector), milkman, truck driver,
    cook, and restaurant owner.
    In 1927 when he went for a test as a singer for Radio Mayrink Veiga, in Rio de Janeiro,
    he met tango crooner Antonio Gomez, better known as Milonguita, a singer who would greatly
    influence Caldas’s singing technique. According to music researcher Mário Leônidas
    Casanova, Caldas’s first recording—"Alô, Meu Bem" (Hello, My Darling) by
    Carlos de Almeida and "Amoroso" (Filled With Love) by the singer in partnership
    with Quincas Freire, happened on February 19, 1930. Both tunes were sambas.
    He would record 500 others songs. "I was born singing," he used to say.
    Accustomed to being adulated the singer became very despondent when the country turned to
    other idols all but forgetting him. He moved in 1965 to his Atibaia ranch, which he called
    exile.
    The singer appeared also in movies like Humberto Mauro’s Favela dos Meus Amores”
    (My Beloved Favela) from 1935, Luís de Barros’s Carioca Maravilhosa (Marvelous Rio
    Girl) from 1936, and José Carlos Burle’s Luz dos Meus Olhos (Light of My Eyes)
    from 1947. Endowed with a deep, husky voice, Caldas became famous for the romantic ballads
    he sang. He also recorded duets with Carmen Miranda and Elizeth Cardoso.
    All the Hits 
    For almost 20 years, starting at the beginning of the ’30s till the end of the ’40s,
    Caldas kept his songs on the hit parades. In 1935 he had "Minha Palhoça" (My
    Thatched Hut) by J. Cascata and "O Telefone do Amor" (The Love Telephone) by
    Benedito Lacerda and Jorge Faraj. In 1936, there were "Um Caboclo Abandonado"
    (An Abandoned Peasant), "Madrugada" (Dawn) both by Benedito Lacerda and
    Herivelto Martins and "O Nome Dela Não Digo" (Her Name I Won’t Say) by Sílvio
    Caldas and Orestes Barbosa.
    In 1937 he brought "Saudade Dela" (Missing Her) by Ataulfo Alves,
    "Arranha-céu" (Skyscraper) and "Chão de Estrelas" (Floor of Stars),
    both by Sílvio Caldas and Orestes Barbosa. 1938 was the year of "Professora"
    (Schoolmistress) by Benedito Lacerda and Jorge Faraj, "Sorria da Minha Dor"
    (Smile at My Pain) by Paulo Medeiros, and "Suburbana" (Suburban Lady) by Sílvio
    Caldas and Orestes Barbosa.
    In 1939 he had, "Da Cor do Pecado" (Color of Sin) by Bororó, "Deusa da
    Minha Rua" (My Street’s Goddess) by Newton Teixeira and Jorge Faraj and in 1940,
    "Mulher" (Woman) by Custódio Mesquita and Sadi Cabral and "Preto
    Velho" (Black Old Man) by Custódio Mesquita and Jorge Faraj.
    Hits from 1941 were "Caixinha de Música" (Little Music Box) by Custódio
    Mesquita, "O Pião" (The Top) by Custódio Mesquita and Sadi Cabral). In 1942 we
    had "Duas Janelas" (Two Windows) by Wilson Batista and Jorge Faraj), in 1943,
    "Meus 20 Anos" (My 20 Years) by Wilson Batista and Sílvio Caldas,
    "Promessa" (Promise) by Custódio Mesquita and Evaldo Rui, "Modinha" (Modinha
    Tune) by Jaime Ovale and Manuel Bandeira.
    In 1944 Caldas brought "Como os Rios Correm para o Mar" (How Rivers Run to
    the Sea) by Custódio Mesquita and Evaldo Rui and "Valsa do Meu Subúrbio" (My
    Suburb’s Waltz) by Custódio Mesquita and Evaldo Rui.
    A heavy drinker all his life, it seems fit that Caldas met his greatest partner,
    Orestes Barbosa, in a bar. Caldas had an operatic voice. During the ’30s and ’40s he was
    part of the quartet of the great crooners of the time, which also included the King of
    Voice, Francisco Alves; the Singer of the Crowds, Orlando Silva; and Carlos Galhardo. As a
    composer he was partner of Cartola, Wilson Batista, Billy Blanco and Ary Barroso.
    What was the secret of his vitality? "I disobey all the rules recommended to those
    who are 50 and older. I talk too much, I drink too much, I sleep too little, I work too
    hard, and smoke like a desperate man," he once said.
    Nothing was left from the fortune he amassed during his golden years. Caldas died poor.
    He was getting a $700 monthly check as pension, but royalties from his songs had dwindled
    so that in a recent month he got a ridiculous $5 check as his share. His only possession,
    the modest ranch in Atibaia in which he lived, was on the brink of foreclosure. Caixa
    Econômica Federal had threatened many times to auction the property in order to collect
    on a $150,000 debt.
    It is not for his honesty that Brazil’s serenaders will be remembered. He is known to
    have bought songs which then he appropriated as being his own. Even "Chão de
    Estrelas" (Floor of Stars), his most memorable work, in partnership with Orestes
    Barbosa wasn’t really his, according to some experts.
    As a singer though his talent is undisputed. He recorded the best of Ary Barroso,
    including "Faceira," "Inquietação", "Maria," "Morena
    Boneca de Ouro", "Quando Eu Penso na Bahia" with Carmen Miranda, "Por
    Causa Dessa Cabrocha", "Rancho Fundo," and "Tu."
    For the last 18 years he hadn’t recorded anything and he used to complain that the
    studios didn’t want him anymore. "All they want are songs that last two to three
    years, but I am here for eternity," he said in a 1996 interview with Folha de São
    Paulo.

     Chão de Estrelas
    By

    Bye-Bye,
    Song Bird

    Born on May 23, 1908 (some experts say it was in 1902), in São Cristóvão, Rio de
    Janeiro, Sílvio Antônio Narciso de Figueiredo Caldas could never make good on his
    repeated promises of abandoning music. Afflicted with heart problems he died on February
    2. He was living in Atibaia, in the interior of São Paulo, with his wife Miriam, 50, son
    Roberto, 21, daughter Camila, 20, and grandson Vinícius, 2.

    For the last 30 years Sílvio Caldas’ constant farewell concerts became a running gag
    in the Brazilian entertainment world. His weepy goodbye shows were so many that even his
    most faithful fans lost track of them. Friends, still lulled by his soothing music, still
    don’t believe that he has left for good. Said Nelson Rodrigues, another idol of his
    generation: "The people want him to always come back. And that 200 years from now he
    will come again for another farewell show."

    At age six, Caldas was already singing at Casa dos Bigodinhos (House of the Little
    Moustaches), a club in Minas Gerais state. Soon after he joined the Família Ideal, a
    Carnaval band. From this time came the nickname Rouxinol (Nightingale). He would get
    several other epithets during his seven-decade career, including : O Caboclinho Querido
    (The Dear Little Peasant), A Voz Morena que a Cidade Adora (The Brunet Voice that the City
    Adores), and O Seresteiro das Multidões (The Crowds’ Serenader).

    The singer was not ashamed of calling himself illiterate. Caldas abandoned school very
    early. At age 9 he was already an apprentice car mechanic, a métier in which he became an
    expert, moving in 1924 to São Paulo where he made a living fixing cars. He had plenty of
    odd jobs that would make him garimpeiro (gold prospector), milkman, truck driver,
    cook, and restaurant owner.

    In 1927 when he went for a test as a singer for Radio Mayrink Veiga, in Rio de Janeiro,
    he met tango crooner Antonio Gomez, better known as Milonguita, a singer who would greatly
    influence Caldas’s singing technique. According to music researcher Mário Leônidas
    Casanova, Caldas’s first recording—"Alô, Meu Bem" (Hello, My Darling) by
    Carlos de Almeida and "Amoroso" (Filled With Love) by the singer in partnership
    with Quincas Freire, happened on February 19, 1930. Both tunes were sambas.

    He would record 500 others songs. "I was born singing," he used to say.
    Accustomed to being adulated the singer became very despondent when the country turned to
    other idols all but forgetting him. He moved in 1965 to his Atibaia ranch, which he called
    exile.

    The singer appeared also in movies like Humberto Mauro’s Favela dos Meus Amores”
    (My Beloved Favela) from 1935, Luís de Barros’s Carioca Maravilhosa (Marvelous Rio
    Girl) from 1936, and José Carlos Burle’s Luz dos Meus Olhos (Light of My Eyes)
    from 1947. Endowed with a deep, husky voice, Caldas became famous for the romantic ballads
    he sang. He also recorded duets with Carmen Miranda and Elizeth Cardoso.

    All the Hits 

    For almost 20 years, starting at the beginning of the ’30s till the end of the ’40s,
    Caldas kept his songs on the hit parades. In 1935 he had "Minha Palhoça" (My
    Thatched Hut) by J. Cascata and "O Telefone do Amor" (The Love Telephone) by
    Benedito Lacerda and Jorge Faraj. In 1936, there were "Um Caboclo Abandonado"
    (An Abandoned Peasant), "Madrugada" (Dawn) both by Benedito Lacerda and
    Herivelto Martins and "O Nome Dela Não Digo" (Her Name I Won’t Say) by Sílvio
    Caldas and Orestes Barbosa.

    In 1937 he brought "Saudade Dela" (Missing Her) by Ataulfo Alves,
    "Arranha-céu" (Skyscraper) and "Chão de Estrelas" (Floor of Stars),
    both by Sílvio Caldas and Orestes Barbosa. 1938 was the year of "Professora"
    (Schoolmistress) by Benedito Lacerda and Jorge Faraj, "Sorria da Minha Dor"
    (Smile at My Pain) by Paulo Medeiros, and "Suburbana" (Suburban Lady) by Sílvio
    Caldas and Orestes Barbosa.

    In 1939 he had, "Da Cor do Pecado" (Color of Sin) by Bororó, "Deusa da
    Minha Rua" (My Street’s Goddess) by Newton Teixeira and Jorge Faraj and in 1940,
    "Mulher" (Woman) by Custódio Mesquita and Sadi Cabral and "Preto
    Velho" (Black Old Man) by Custódio Mesquita and Jorge Faraj.

    Hits from 1941 were "Caixinha de Música" (Little Music Box) by Custódio
    Mesquita, "O Pião" (The Top) by Custódio Mesquita and Sadi Cabral). In 1942 we
    had "Duas Janelas" (Two Windows) by Wilson Batista and Jorge Faraj), in 1943,
    "Meus 20 Anos" (My 20 Years) by Wilson Batista and Sílvio Caldas,
    "Promessa" (Promise) by Custódio Mesquita and Evaldo Rui, "Modinha" (Modinha
    Tune) by Jaime Ovale and Manuel Bandeira.

    In 1944 Caldas brought "Como os Rios Correm para o Mar" (How Rivers Run to
    the Sea) by Custódio Mesquita and Evaldo Rui and "Valsa do Meu Subúrbio" (My
    Suburb’s Waltz) by Custódio Mesquita and Evaldo Rui.

    A heavy drinker all his life, it seems fit that Caldas met his greatest partner,
    Orestes Barbosa, in a bar. Caldas had an operatic voice. During the ’30s and ’40s he was
    part of the quartet of the great crooners of the time, which also included the King of
    Voice, Francisco Alves; the Singer of the Crowds, Orlando Silva; and Carlos Galhardo. As a
    composer he was partner of Cartola, Wilson Batista, Billy Blanco and Ary Barroso.

    What was the secret of his vitality? "I disobey all the rules recommended to those
    who are 50 and older. I talk too much, I drink too much, I sleep too little, I work too
    hard, and smoke like a desperate man," he once said.

    Nothing was left from the fortune he amassed during his golden years. Caldas died poor.
    He was getting a $700 monthly check as pension, but royalties from his songs had dwindled
    so that in a recent month he got a ridiculous $5 check as his share. His only possession,
    the modest ranch in Atibaia in which he lived, was on the brink of foreclosure. Caixa
    Econômica Federal had threatened many times to auction the property in order to collect
    on a $150,000 debt.

    It is not for his honesty that Brazil’s serenaders will be remembered. He is known to
    have bought songs which then he appropriated as being his own. Even "Chão de
    Estrelas" (Floor of Stars), his most memorable work, in partnership with Orestes
    Barbosa wasn’t really his, according to some experts.

    As a singer though his talent is undisputed. He recorded the best of Ary Barroso,
    including "Faceira," "Inquietação", "Maria," "Morena
    Boneca de Ouro", "Quando Eu Penso na Bahia" with Carmen Miranda, "Por
    Causa Dessa Cabrocha", "Rancho Fundo," and "Tu."

    For the last 18 years he hadn’t recorded anything and he used to complain that the
    studios didn’t want him anymore. "All they want are songs that last two to three
    years, but I am here for eternity," he said in a 1996 interview with Folha de São
    Paulo.

     Chão de Estrelas

    Sílvio Caldas and
    Orestes Barbosa

    Minha vida era um palco iluminado
    E eu vivia vestido de dourado
    Palhaço das perdidas ilusões
    Cheio dos guizos falsos da alegria
    Andei cantando minha fantasia
    Entre as palmas febris dos corações

    Meu barracão lá no morro do Salgueiro
    Tinha o cantar alegre de um viveiro
    Foste a sonoridade que acabou
    E hoje, quando do Sol a claridade
    Forra o meu barracão, sinto saudade
    Da mulher, pomba-rola que voou

    Nossas roupas comuns dependuradas
    Na corda qual bandeiras agitadas
    Pareciam um estranho festival
    Festa dos nossos trapos coloridos
    A mostrar que nos morros mal vestidos
    É sempre feriado nacional.

    A porta do barraco era sem trinco
    Mas a lua furando nosso zinco
    Salpicava de estrelas nosso chão
    E tu pisavas nos astros distraída
    Sem saber que a ventura desta vida
    É a cabrocha, o luar e o violão

     Floor of Stars

    Sílvio Caldas and
    Orestes Barbosa

    My life was a lighted-up stage
    And I lived dressed in gold
    A clown of lost illusions
    Full of joy’s false rattles
    I’ve been singing my fantasy
    Among hearts’ feverish palms

    My shack up on the Salgueiro hill
    Had the joyful singing of a aviary
    You were the sonority that ended
    And today, when the sunlight
    Lines my shack, I miss
    The woman, turtle-dove who has flown

    Our common clothes hung
    On the line as waving flags
    Seemed like an odd festival
    Feast of our colored rags
    Showing that on the ill-dressed hills
    It’s always national holiday

    The shack’s door had no latch
    But the moon piercing our zinc
    Sprinkled our floor with stars
    And you absentmindedly stepped on the stars
    Without knowing that happiness in this life
    Is a mulatto girl, the moon and a guitar

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