Vai, Azulão, Azulão, companheiro, vai!
Vai ver minha ingrata,
Diz que sem ela
O sertão não é mais sertão!
Ai! Võa Azulão,
Vai contar companheiro, vai!
Go bluebird*, my companion, go!
Go and see my ungrateful love
Say that without her
The sertão** is no longer the sertão!
Alas, fly bluebird,
Go and tell her, my companion, go!
*Bluebird: blue-black grosbeak (Cyanocompsa cyanoides)
**Jodi Naas wrote, "O sertão is 'the sertão', a vast and arid region of northern/northeastern Brazil that is considered very desolate and unfruitful, and is the home of many poor people - or people who became poor once they got there! You could say 'desert' or 'badlands' instead of sertão. It is a place where nothing lives or grows well, nothing thrives, so knowing this increases the sadness and irony of this song. I'd say the 'badlands' is the best translation, but it doesn't sound nice to sing."
Sandra Esper wrote from Brazil: "The comments about the song 'Black Bird' (Azulao) from Jodi Naas makes no sense at all. The meaning of "sertao" is: s.m., country place, far from the crowd (of people), a forest far from the coast. In this case is not a specific region of Brazil, it can be any "sertao" of Brazil. So when the Author says: 'The sertao is no longer the sertao' he meant that even with all the natural contents of a "sertao" without her the "sertao" doens't have the same meaning for him.
Instead of : 'The sertao is no longer the sertao!', a better translation would be: 'The sertao is no longer sertao!' Meaning that "the sertao" (his specific place), is no longer "a sertao" (general meaning) anymore."
Thanks and Acknowledgements
Many thanks to Jodi Naas for providing corrections and such a useful commentary. Thanks to Sandra Esper for her commentary.
This beautiful song was performed by Christa Pfeiffer (Soprano) and Kristin Pankonin (Piano). Thanks to Christa Pfeiffer for generously allowing me to post her recording (copyright 2003 Christa Pfeiffer) on this site.
If you'd like to learn more about Christa or purchase her CD Hush: Lullabies From Around The World, click below to visit her web site.