Sunday, March 2, 2014

Arbors -- "Mas Que Nada (Pow, Pow, Pow!)" (1967)

Ohhhhh, when your lips meet mine
Pow, POW, POW!
Ohhhhh, I could lose my mind
Pow, POW, POW!

To paraphrase Joseph Conrad, "Mistah February -- he dead."  That means 2 or 3 lines has returned to the land of songs with lyrics.

February is supposed to be the shortest month, but don't you believe it.  When you're the big kahuna of a wildly popular blog and you have to crank out wildly insightful posts about wildly entertaining popular records every day for the entire month of February, it is a very long month indeed.

(Don't let the door hit you in the
ass on the way out, February!)
So repeat after me: "February is dead.  Long live March!"

And long live "Mas Que Nada," a song that I intended to write about in December 2013.  Click here if you'd like to know why I didn't.  I think you'll agree that the whole thing was just too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence.

Jorge Ben
"Mas Que Nada" was written by a little-known Brazilian pop musician, Jorge Ben.  He recorded it in 1963, and it became the most-played Portuguese-language song ever in the United States.  (Ben also wrote a song that Rod Stewart later admitted he unconsciously plagiarized in his 1977 hit, "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?")

"Mas Que Nada" has been covered by dozens of recording artists, but the most famous cover was the one recorded by Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66.  

Here's a video of Brasil '66 performing the song on a 1967 Eartha Kitt television special.  It's fabulous.

The Arbors -- they were from Ann Arbor, MI -- covered the song on their 1967 album, A Symphony for Susan.  (We'll be learning a lot more about the Arbors in the very near future.)

The English lyrics that the Arbors sang have nothing to do with the original Portuguese lyrics.  I've been unable to ascertain who wrote those English lyrics, but it must have been a male who was suffering through a long dry spell.  (There's not only that "pow, pow, pow!" refrain, but also lines like "I feel like I'm gonna explode/Oh, this is what you do to me."  You don't have to be Northrop Frye or Harold Bloom to figure out what this song is all about.) 

By the way, the song's title is a Brazilian slang term that is roughly equivalent to American slang expressions like "no way," or "whatever," or "yeah, right."  Its literal meaning in Portuguese is "but that's nothing," and it shouldn't be confused with the Spanish term "más que nada" ("more than nothing").

Here's "Mas Que Nada (Pow, Pow, Pow!)."  (This video, which seems to be some kind of Russian art presentation, is accompanied by several songs -- the first is "Mas Que Nada.")

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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