The political side of Ary Barroso

Chamberlain, Hitler, Carmen,
and the mixed salad.

Daniella Thompson

6 August 2002

Collage: Daniella Thompson, 2002

The political side of Ary Barroso is seldom discussed. At times it’s been suggested that he created “Aquarela do Brasil” to please the dictator Getúlio Vargas, a suggestion emphatically denied by the Barroso family. As it happens, the presence of a truly political song Ary wrote just a few months before “Aquarela” discredits the Vargas-connection theory.

On 29 September 1938, Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Edouard Daladier, and Benito Mussolini signed the Munich Pact, which allowed Nazi Germany to march into Czechoslovakia and annex the Sudetenland without a single shot being fired. This so-called act of appeasement on the part of Great Britain and France was meant to give Hitler “a chance of being a good boy,” as Nevile Henderson, British Amabassador to Germany, had so quaintly put it. In retrospect, the Sudetenland merely served as the first course in Hitler’s banquet.

If England and France were blind, one Brazilian songwriter was not. A little over a month after the Munich Pact, Ary Barroso’s marcha “Salada Mista” (or “Salada Mixta,” as it was spelled then) was released on record. Carmen Miranda sang it in her irrepressible style, accompanied by the Odeon orchestra under the direction of the legendary Simon Bountman.

In 1980, Abril Cultural reissued an excerpt from “Salada Mista” on the LP Documentos Sonoros—Nosso Século, a compilation of songs related to important historical events and recorded between 1900 and 1979. The first verse and the refrain were reproduced in the liner notes. The entire song was reissued by EMI in the 1996 five-CD box set Carmen Miranda that soon disappeared from the market. Fortunately, the recording is available on the delightful compilation CD Carmen Miranda 1930–1945, released in 1997 by the British label Harlequin.*

Among its 23 tracks, the Harlequin CD also offers the lighthearted marcha “Cuidado com a Gaita do Ary” (Oswaldo Santiago/Paulo Barbosa), another 1938 recording. The latter song is the Pequena Notável’s tribute to her great friend, who in addition to being a songwriter, wore numerous other hats, including that of Brazil’s best-known football commentator. For several decades, Ary’s miniature mouth organ was heard on the radio whenever his beloved Flamengo scored a goal. “Cuidado com a Gaita do Ary” reproduces the trill of that famous gaita.

“Salada Mista” was published in Songbook Ary Barroso, Vol. 2 (Lumiar Editora). The lyrics below, extracted from Carmen Miranda’s recording, are notable for their bite:

Salada Mista
(Ary Barroso)

Uma pitada de massa de tomate
All right, all right
E três gotinhas de molho inglês
Só três, só três1
Algumas2 gramas de petit-pois
François, François

E ficou pronto o pirão do chanceler
Que papou de colher
Que papou de colher

Disse o francês
“Oui, oui, oui”
Disse o inglês
“Yes, yes, yes”
Quem não gostou
Foi o tchecoslovaco
Que deu o cavaco
Que deu o cavaco
E o italiano entrou
Então na salada
E não sobrou nada
E não sobrou nada

1. In Songbook Ary Barroso, Vol. 2, the words “Só três, só três” are replaced by “OK, OK.”
2. The gender error must have been used to improve the meter.

As the record label below shows, “Salada Mista” was approved by the censors and bears a registration number from the Department of Press and Propaganda—the notoroius DIP. This is most surprising, considering Vargas’ sympathetic stance toward Hitler and Mussolini. Another surprising aspect of this disc is the song relegated to side B: it was none other than “Na Baixa do Sapateiro.”

Image courtesy of Dijalma M. Candido

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* At the end of 2003, Revivendo commemorated Ary Barroso’s centennial with the 6-CD compilation Ary Barroso–Nossa Homenagem–100 Anos. “Salada Mista” is included in Volume 3.

My thanks to Virgílio de Oliveira Moreira for alerting me to the political content of the song.


Copyright © 2002–2014 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.