Posted in English, Portuguese

A Minha Casinha

Wow, well, this was going to just be another Portuguese text with footnotes but one of the footnotes sent me off down such a rabbit-hole about the origins of this song that I’ve ended up writing a whole separate blog post in English grafted onto the bottom and frankly it’s a lot more interesting than the Portuguese text. Thanks to Patis12 for help with the Portuguese parts.

Já falei do filme que eu e a minha filha vimos há uns dias – Opération Portugal. Há uma cena perto do final no qual os portugueses lutam contra os criminosos. Batem-lhes na cara com as suas pás – pumba! A banda sonora da cena é uma música famosa dos xutos e pontapés, chamada “A Minha Casinha” e os estrondos de pás contra caras sincronizam com a batida da música.

Zé Pedro of Xutos e Pontapes
Zé Pedro

Confesso que sou indiferente à canção. Seis linhas repetidas… Quantaz vezes? Quatro? Cinco? Mas a minha esposa gosta muito porque a música da nossa juventude tem sempre lugar especial nos nossos corações. Não sabia antes de começar este texto que os Xutos e Pontapés não escreveu a letra da canção: o original era parte da banda sonora dum filme dos anos quarenta do século passado chamado “O Costa* Do Castelo” Uau, que evolução imprevisível!

*= Why “O Costa”, not “A Costa”, given that Costa is a feminine noun? It’s because it’s not a noun at all, it’s the name of one of the characters in the film.

So slipping back into english, here are a few of the many manifestations of this song:

As I’ve said above, a well-known actress and singer named Maria de Lurdes de Almeida Lemos, better known as Milu sang it in a movie called O Costa do Castelo (1943) and wow, it really is almost unrecognisable. By the way, one of the commenters under the video has used an expression I mentioned a few days ago: “Nem a Grace Kelly lhe chegava aos calcanhares…”

Basically this is a very traditional song about the joys of being poor and pure at heart. This seems very much in keeping with the ethos of the dictatorship that was in place at the time.

In the eighties, Xutos e Pontapés started singing it for a laugh as a way of rounding off their shows and eventually recorded it on their album “88”. Here’s their version (they’re well into their later years in this recording, obviously)

They have stripped out the later verses about Christian humility and simplicity (neither of which is a punk virtue) and instead just taken the first verse and repeated it a few times, describing their top floor flat: “um (…) primeiro andar a contar vindo do céu” means “the first floor – if you’re counting down from the sky”, so the vibe your left with is more like a tower block anthem. This contrasts with Milu’s version which uses the same words but conjures more of a rose-tinted vision of life in a poky old house in an impoverished but proud neighbourhood in the Alfama.

The result is a pretty good anthem, as suitable for chanting on the football terraces as singing in the Coliseu.

When Metallica played Lisbon shortly after the death of Xutos’ lead guitarist Zé Pedro they chose this song as a tribute.

Xutos e Pontapés were also invited to make a video of the song to as a promo for the Spanish Netflix series A Casa De Papel (aka Money Heist)

And finally, here’s how it’s used in Operation Portugal with clanging shovels. Most of this is french of course, apart from the chant (“The people united will never be defeated”) and the soundtrack itself

Here are the lyrics:

As saudades que eu já tinha / The love I felt
Da minha alegre casinha / For my happy little house
Tão modesta quanto eu / As modest as I am
Meu Deus como é bom morar / My god, it’s good to live
Num modesto primeiro andar / On a humble first floor
A contar vindo do céu / Counting down from the sky

… And then the additional verses that were dropped from the Xutos version…

O meu quarto lembra um ninho /My bedroom is like a nest
e o seu tecto é tão baixinho / it’s cieling is so low
que eu, ao ir para me deitar, /that when I go to bed
abro a porta em tom discreto, / i open the door quietly
digo sempre: «Senhor tecto, / and say “Mr Cieling,
por favor deixe-me entrar.» / please let me come in”

Tudo podem ter os nobres / The gentry might have everything
ou os ricos de algum dia, / Or the people who happen to be rich
mas quase sempre o lar dos pobres / but almost always, poor people’s homes
tem mais alegria. / have more joy

De manhã salto da cama / In the morning I jump out of bed
e ao som dos pregões de Alfama /and to the sound of raised voices in the Alfama
trato de me levantar, / I start waking up
porque o sol, meu namorado, / because the sun, my beloved
rompe as frestas no telhado / breaks through the gaps in the roof
e a sorrir vem-me acordar. / and wakes me with a smile

Corro então toda ladina / Then I run, completely pure**
na casa pequenina, /in the little house
bem dizendo, eu sou cristão, / saying I’m a Christian
“deitar cedo e cedo erguer / “Going to bed early and rising early
dá saude e faz crescer” / makes you healthy and makes you grow”
diz o povo e tem razão. / say the people and they are right.

Tudo podem ter os nobres / The gentry might have everything
ou os ricos de algum dia, / Or the people who happen to be rich
mas quase sempre o lar dos pobres / but almost always, poor people’s homes
tem mais alegria. / have more joy

**=I’m not sure about the translation of “Ladina” meaning pure. According to Priberam, it’s an antiquated meaning, but it’s the only one that makes sense so I think it must have still be in current usage at the time the film was released.


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