Ken Simons: web designer, editor, and archivist

Abril em Portugal


It’s the anniversary of the Carnation Revolution and a Portuguese national holiday. Here’s a link to the song which started it all, Grândola vila morena. The song, a celebration of workers’ solidarity in the small Alentejo town of Grândola, was written by José Afonso, the celebrated left-wing Catholic singer-songwriter. [Afonso, popularly known as Zeca or Zé, died in obscurity in 1987.]

The Movimento das Forças Armadas (MFA) actually sent out two signals for the 25 April 1974 rebellion — first, a piece of Eurovision pop called A depois do adeus, which didn’t alert the censors, and about an hour later, Grândola — a banned song by a banned artist.

We were on holiday in Lisbon at the time of the 20th anniversary of the revolution, but somehow missed every occasion where Grândola was sung in public. But we did get hold of a great souvenir — the tribute album Filhos da Madrugada, featuring about 20 hip young bands doing covers of Zé Afonso’s most famous songs.

[comment added on 2008/08/01: I just saw a charming little claymation video of the song, put together by some Portuguese schoolkids. You can play it here or link to it here. The old oak tree, which has a background role in the song, is a featured performer in the video.]