Stan Getz (Ft. João Gilberto) – “Desafinado” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

“Desafinado” is a poetic defense of the new musical style, Bossa Nova. Its lyrics revolve around the criticism of being out of tune (“desafinado”) and the pain it causes. But there’s a deeper message: even those considered out of tune or unconventional have a heart and feelings. The song challenges norms, asking listeners to appreciate the uniqueness of every voice and beat.

Dive into the rhythms and rhymes of Bossa Nova with “Desafinado”. What secrets does this song hold?

“Desafinado” Lyrics Meaning

The song begins with a poignant defense: “Se você disser que eu desafino, amor / Saiba que isto em mim provoca imensa dor.” Translated, it highlights the pain inflicted when one is told they are out of tune. But the singer responds, emphasizing the rarity and value of a keen ear – something not everyone is privileged to have.

“I possuo apenas o que Deus me deu” is a humble acknowledgment – owning only what God gave, and there’s beauty in that authenticity.

The crux of the song is the singer’s insistence against being labeled as ‘anti-musical’. Instead, the claim is: “Que isto é bossa nova / Que isto é muito natural.” Here, the song is not just about musical notes; it’s about a musical revolution. Bossa Nova, with its breezy and soft rhythms, was unconventional at the time, often considered ‘out of tune’ with mainstream music.

But, “O que você não sabe, nem sequer pressente / É que os desafinados também têm coração.” This line emphasizes that those who are ‘desafinado’ have hearts too. It’s a plea for understanding and acceptance. Everyone has emotions, regardless of how ‘in-tune’ they appear to the world.

“Fotografei você na minha Rolley-flex” suggests capturing someone’s insincerity or ungratefulness. In the face of such criticism, the singer holds his love as a defense, an incomparable undying passion.

The closing lines are a firm statement that despite criticisms and labels, the heartbeats of the unconventional, the ‘desafinados,’ are valid and filled with emotion.

The Story Behind “Desafinado”

“Desafinado,” composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim with lyrics by Newton Mendonça, emerged during the rise of Bossa Nova in Brazil in the late 1950s. Bossa Nova, meaning ‘new trend’, was revolutionary, a fusion of samba and jazz. It was softer, more lyrical, and often considered not mainstream enough.

Jobim, as one of the pioneers, faced both acclaim and criticism. “Desafinado” can be seen as his response to critics who didn’t understand or accept the new sound. It’s an anthem of authenticity and individuality. Through this song, he conveyed that the beauty of music doesn’t lie in its adherence to norms but in its authenticity and the emotions it evokes.

The very essence of Bossa Nova is encapsulated in the title “Desafinado” – which means “slightly out of tune”. The irony is palpable; a genre that was so refreshing, so beautifully soft, and yet so different from the conventional, was being subtly defensive, challenging its critiques through song.

Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto, the legends behind the Bossa Nova movement, were initially met with skepticism. The rhythms were different, the tones were softer, and the whole aura was laid-back. In the broader musical landscape, where powerful vocals and grand orchestrations often took center stage, Bossa Nova was an oddity. But it was also a statement.

“Desafinado” became a sort of anthem for this movement. It was not just about being out of tune; it was about embracing a new kind of tune. When Stan Getz collaborated with João Gilberto, this song reached international acclaim, becoming an emblematic representation of what Bossa Nova stands for – a call for authenticity, acceptance, and the realization that music isn’t about fitting into boxes.

The lines, “Que no peito dos desafinados / No fundo do peito bate calado / No peito dos desafinados também bate um coração”, powerfully underscore the song’s central message. These words resonate with anyone who has ever felt out of place, reminding them that their rhythm, however unconventional, is valid and filled with heart.

In conclusion, “Desafinado” is more than just a song. It’s a testament to the Bossa Nova movement, a tribute to authenticity, and a reminder that sometimes, being slightly out of tune can lead to the most harmonious and heartfelt melodies.