Guest Observation: Antonio Carlos Jobim

Just watched “Synechdoche, New York.” I need to/want to/will watch it again to try to see if I really did miss something–it’s a Charlie Kaufman movie, so less that straightforward. One memorable moment is the final credits, covered by a ballad called “I’m Just a Little Person.” That made me think about “The Waters of March,” by Brazilian songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim, which rolls at the end of Jerry Seinfeld’s movie, “Comedian.” Thinking back, I can’t remember how the end of the movie segued into this number, which combines a bossa nova jauntiness with a pointedly bittersweet flavor. The song has been done many, many times, but the version in the movie was by the late Susannah McCorkle, a Berkeley native and New York cabaret legend. The lyrics, as she sang them:

The Waters of March

A stick a stone
it’s the end of the road,

it’s the rest of the stump
it’s a little alone

it’s a sliver of glass,
it is life, it’s the sun,

it is night ,it is death,
it’s a trap, it’s a gun.

the oak when it blooms,
a fox in the brush,

the knot in the wood,
the song of the thrush.

the wood of the wind,
a cliff, a fall,

a scratch, a lump,
it is nothing at all.

it’s the wind blowing free.
it’s the end of a slope. …

it’s a beam, it’s a void,
it’s a hunch, it’s a hope.

and the riverbank talks.
of the water of march

it’s the end of the strain,
it’s the joy in your heart.

the foot, the ground,
the flesh, the bone,

the beat of the road,
a slingshot stone.

a fish, a flash,
a silvery glow,

a fight, a bet,
the range of the bow.

the bed of the well,
the end of the line,

the dismay in the face,
it’s a loss, it’s a find.

a spear, a spike,
a point, a nail,

a drip, a drop,
the end of the tale.

a truckload of bricks,
in the soft morning light,

the shot of a gun,
in the dead of the night.

a mile, a must,
a thrust, a bump.

it’s a girl, it’s a rhyme.
it’s the cold, it’s the mumps.

the plan of the house,
the body in bed,

the car that got stuck,
it’s the mud, it’s the mud.

a float, a drift,
a flight, a wing,

ahawk, a quail,
the promise of spring.

and the riverbanks talks.
of the waters of march.

it’s the promise of life,
it’s the joy in your heart,

a snake, a stick,
it is john, it is joe,

it’s a thorn in your hand,
and a cut on your toe.

a point, a grain,
a bee, a bite,

a blink, a buzzard,
the sudden stroke of night.

a pin, a needle,
a sting, a pain,

a snail, a riddle,
a weep, a stain.

a pass in the mountains.
a horse, a mule,

in the distance the shelves.
rode three shadows of blue.

and the riverbank talks
of the promise of life
in your heart, in your heart

a stick, a stone,
the end of the load,

the rest of the stump,
a lonesome road.

a sliver of glass,
a life, the sun,

a night, a death,
the end of the run

and the riverbank talks
of the waters of march

it’s the end of all strain
it’s the joy in your heart

1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Music

One Response to Guest Observation: Antonio Carlos Jobim

  1. Since you are an obvious fan of Antonio Carlos Jobim, I feel it my duty to turn you on to this performance of his “One Note Samba,” by James Hill, ukulele virtuoso extraordinaire.

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