[Monday’s Notes No. 87] Sometimes after a first romantic date it can happen that one of the two falls madly in love, totally unrequited. This is what fears the protagonist of Ligia, who fights a battle against love that he cannot win. The song is performed here by Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz.
In the protagonist of the song written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, this date in Ipanema unleashed passion and fear at the same time. The full lyrics of Ligia and the Portuguese – English translation follow:
Joao Gilberto, Ligia. Traduzione portoghese-italiano
Nunca sonhei com você, nunca fui ao cinema
I never desired you, nor went to the cinema
Não gosto de samba, não vou a Ipanema
I don’t like samba, I don’t go to Ipanema
Não gosto de chuva nem gosto de sol
I don’t like the rain or the sun
Eu nunca te telefonei, para quê se eu sabia?
I never phoned you, and why would I have done so if I already knew?
Eu jamais tentei, e jamais ousaria
I have never tried and would never dare
As bobagens de amor que outro vai te dizer
Those silly love phrases that another will tell you
Sair com você de mãos dadas na tarde serena
Going out with you hand in hand, at sunset
Um chope gelado, um bar de Ipanema
A cold beer, a bar in Ipanema
Andar pela praia até o Leblon
Walking on the beach towards Leblon
Eu nunca me apaixonei
I never fell in love
Eu jamais poderia casar com você
And I could never marry you
Fatalmente eu iria sofrer tanta dor
I would inevitably end up suffering a lot,
Pra no fim te perder
And in the end I would lose you.
The text poetically expresses this interior travail, the clash between the tender memory of that first meeting and the attempt to remove it, to escape the anxiety that always accompanies the beginning of a love affair.
Joao Gilberto’s performance is masterful and intense. After the sung part, we appreciate a solo by Stan Getz (minute 3’25”), who overdubs two saxophone tracks, which is rather unusual. I like to think that the saxophonist also wanted to express in this way the clash of two emotions, two voices struggling within.
The harmony of Ligia is also very unusual, in fact it is one of the most intricate pieces written by Antonio Carlos Jobim. The piece is in the key of A major but the tonic chord is never played. The cadential movements always resolve unexpectedly, or do not resolve at all. Just like the two emotions -love and fear- neither of which manages to prevail.
The sheet music of Ligia as performed by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto
Besides evoking a feeling that many of us have felt, Antonio Carlos Jobim also expresses his love for his homeland. The beach of Ipanema at sunset thus appears as a magical place, capable of making those who walk along it fall in love.
Much like this song makes us revive the walks, hand in hand, in the Ipanema beaches of our lives.
Until next Monday
download the lead sheet of Ligia
I dedicate this article to Anna, my ‘Ligia’
I add Lucio Alves’ version, recommended by a kind visitor: thank you Francesco!