I play alto saxophone and percussion for Show Brazil! here in Seattle. Originally from Salvador in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, the band’s leader, Eduardo Mendonça, is an internationally renowned and award-winning recording and touring artist, accomplished songwriter, teacher, community leader and benefactor to the Puget Sound area Brazilian community. His music is played and appreciated worldwide. He has played for the Dalai Lama, Pope John Paul II, and Nelson Mandela, as well as audiences all around the world. I’m honored that Eduardo christened me with my Brazilian name, Maracujá, about which I will write in an upcoming entry.
One of Eduardo’s many great songs is “Vingança,” a live version of which is shown here (from a Carnaval gig we played in 2011).
“Vingança” features both Portuguese and English lyrics. Here are the English lyrics, which served the basis for a casual over-coffee discussion I recently had with Eduardo pertaining to sleep and snoring.She left me just because I snore It is so bad, I sing when I dream To me it is nothing, it is nothing to me Boy, I am crazy, please come back to me Always back, come back to me Baby, it is hard, come back to me Yeah, I made my revenge I scratched up all her pans She got that stuff from my mother-in-law Yeah, it was really nice I broke her porcelain It is my revenge because she’s gone away I am so bad
So, here is my interview with my friend Eduardo, who I asked to provide the song’s backstory.
EM: The wife’s left this guy and he’s really mad. He reacts with non-violence. He wouldn’t hit this woman or anything, but he’s mad, and he starts to destroy the things that she likes, like the porcelain given by her mother-in-law, and he feels really compelled to do this. It’s funny; it’s humor. It’s nothing like asking anyone to be violent to solve the problem. I didn’t compose the Portuguese and English together.
MC: So you wrote the Portuguese portion first and later you added the English?
EM: Right, many years later. After I moved to the United States, I was willing to have Americans understand a little bit more about what I was saying. I was reflecting about how snoring and sleeping problems really can damage any marriage, right? Any relationship. Snoring is in my family. My mother always complained a lot about how much my father was snoring and sometimes talking in the night, and they stayed married for many years until she passed away. She was a hero to keep living with this problem. They slept in the same room and everything, but she complained, I remember she complained. Later I found out I snore as well, though not all the time.
MC: Your wife complains about your snoring?
EM: When I’m really tired, she starts to complain about the snoring, and she reports it to me, like my mother complained, and I saw that it can cause a problem in the relationship. You sleep when you sleep. You don’t have a clue that you’re interfering with somebody else’s sleep!
MC: It’s no fault of your own, but it’s causing distress to your spouse.
EM: That’s where “Vingança” came from. From my family’s experience, from my experience, and just to alert people: who has the problem? When I wrote this song, “to me it’s nothing, it’s nothing to me.” Of course not, right? Because you don’t know that you’re causing somebody else’s problem. And that’s the humorous part: when you say it’s not a problem, but it is a problem for somebody else. That’s what’s the music is about: just to make people aware that it’s something that needs to be reviewed, something that needs to be treated and talked about, because it does interfere in any kind of relationship.
MC: So he acknowledges that he is doing something that his wife is not liking, and that is a component in what eventually ends up being a dysfunctional relationship that gets worse and worse.
EM: Yes. She left because of that, right?
MC: But did she really leave only because of the snoring?
EM: Only because of the snoring! [we both laugh]
MC: Now, I will tell you that I have had patients that have gotten divorced in large part because of the snoring.
EM: I can believe that.
MC: And it’s not really because of the loudness and the obnoxiousness of the snoring, but because the person doing the snoring didn’t believe it, or didn’t do anything about it. It’s like, “I don’t care that you’re bothered by it; I don’t care.” So I’ve actually had patients that have been in that situation, when they refuse to do anything about it, knowing that it’s bothering the spouse, and then they get divorced. That’s happened!
EM: Yep, that’s my song.
MC: So what that song is then is basically a communication to people that you shouldn’t be ignoring those things, problems that you may not necessarily help, but don’t ignore it, or else your spouse isn’t going to be happy. And it’s humorous on one hand, but on the other hand, it’s deadly serious.
EM: Yes, it’s serious. The song treats a serious problem in a light way, because sometimes we can address some problem–and can make people reflect–not in a drastic way, but with humor. It’s a way to reflect on some cause, that the action that makes that cause can be changed, can be treated, and can be rethought.
MC: You can do something about it.
EM: Right. And this guy didn’t do anything about it.
MC: And he paid a price, because she left.
Obrigado to my old friend Eduardo for bringing some awareness to sleep problems such as snoring! His music may be found on Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify; Show Brazil! is constantly touring, throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. I highly encourage you to explore Eduardo Mendonça’s wonderful songs.