Posted in English, Portuguese

Lisboa Não é Hollywood

Here’s an attempt at translating the song “Lisboa Nao é Hollywood” by Os Azeitonas. It doesn’t seem to haave a translation on lyricstranslate so I thought I’d make one. Seems like quite a simple song but it’s really, really tricky!

Chega Cândida de capeline 
Cândida arrives wearing a capeline*
Como ela respira saúde**
She's glowing with health
Quase que parece a Marilyn
She almost looks like Marilyn
Ao chegar*** a Hollywood
On her arrival in Hollywood
Mas sem tapetes encarnados
But with no red carpets
Sob os seus pés de dama
Under her ladylike feet
Os seus sapatinhos delicados
Her delicate little shoes
Apenas pisam na lama
only step in the mud
Lisboa é paleio de Aljube****
Lisbon is well known to criminals
Por entre ruas, esquinas
Among its streets and corners
Também tem suas colinas, mas
It has its hills too, but
Lisboa não É Hollywood
Lisboa isn't Hollywood
Lá vai Cândida a correr atrás
There goes Cândida, chasing
Seu peito diz sorria
Her spirit***** says smile
Mas nos seus dentes nunca brilha o flash
But the flash of a photograph has never
Da fotografia
Lit up her teeth
Lá vai Cândida a mandar beijinhos
There goes Cândida, blowing kisses
Com o seu jeito rude
In her rude way
Como quem atalha caminho
Like someone taking a shortcut
Para chegar a Hollywood
To arrive in Hollywood
Lisboa é paleio de Aljube****
Lisbon is well known to criminals
Por entre ruas, esquinas
Among its streets and corners
Também tem suas colinas, mas
It has its hills too, but
Lisboa não É Hollywood
Lisboa isn't Hollywood
Como ela cai na trama
How she falls into the trap******
E vai esbanjando******* virtude
And squanders her virtue
Pelo passeio da fama mas
On the walk of fame, but
Lisboa não É Hollywood
Lisboa isn't Hollywood
Olha Cândida na solidão
Look at Cândida, all alone
De capeline, rouge e baton
In her Capeline, rouge and lipstick
Não foi parar ao panteão
She didn't end up in the pantheon
Morreu na vala comum
She died in the gutter
Lisboa é paleio de Aljube****
Lisbon is well-known to criminals
Por entre ruas, esquinas
Among its streets, and corners
Também tem suas colinas, mas
It has its hills too, but
Lisboa não É Hollywood
Lisboa isn't Hollywood

* = It’s a kind of hat apparently. Never heard of it!

**=Respira Saúde = Literally “breathes health” so visibly healthy, confident and in good form, not just “is healthy”. Researching this on the web, there’s some use of it in a more loreal way, meaning “breathing in a healthy way”, eg giving up smoking, but it is used as an expression too.

*** = I wrote about this “Ao + infinitive” construction a couple of months back and I seem to have seen it everywhere since.

**** = This line is a real enigma. The word aljube with a small letter can be a dark prison or a cavern. The fact that it’s written with a capital letter in all the sources I can find seems to imply that it’s a reference to A Cadeia do Aljube, which was the name of a prison (cadeira) that has been in existence since the peninsula was colonised by the muslim imperialists in the 8th century. The name Aljube comes from the arabic for a well. After the reconquista, its use changed but certainly by the twentieth century it was being used for political prisoners of the fascist Estado Novo, and had a pretty terrible reputation. These days, it’s a museum of resistance and liberty. “Paleio” means gossip or small talk, so the sentence “Lisboa é paleio de Aljube” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. My wife didn’t know what they were driving at. I asked around on reddit and had four different replies, all different. The two closest guesses were along the lines of “a rumour in the prison”, meaning it was something lowlifes and criminals talk about, which is why I’ve translated it as “well known to criminals” but others have suggested “A trick in a cavern”, or even “pillow talk” (because Aljube can also mean alcove, and “de alcova” in Brazilian Portuguese can imply something relating to sex). Meh, its slightly odd that there’s a lyric like this that no two listeners can agree on the meaning, but there are plenty of songs on English that are obscure and ambiguous so I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised!

***** = Not sure about this one either. “her chest says smile” just sounds weird but one of the lesser meanings of peito is “ânimo” so I’m interpreting it as she’s making an effort of will to smile…? But at least one of the people who replied to my question about paleio said that there was an implication that Cândida is a prostitute so maybe there’s some sort of implication that people are smiling at her cleavage…?

****** = Another iffy one: Trama can be a thread, either literal or in the sense of a unifying plot-line of a book (in fact, I think I used it in a a book review a couple of days ago!) or even a tram line. I wondered if we were supposed to imagine her literally tripping on a tram track but it didn’t seem to fit well with the next line.

******* = fantastic! I only learned this word a week or two ago, doing one of Paulo Freixinho’s old crosswords and here it is again!

By the way, I see Os Azeitonas are candidates for this year’s Eurovision but they’ve come down a long way since they lost their most talented dude, Miguel Araújo, and the song is vanilla AF.