Former Os Mutantes singer Rita Lee‘s “Amor e Sexo” is famous enough in Brazil that everyone can sing along, and it’s lovely to see it sung by a crowd — and see how a catchy melody and screwy metaphors can cause a kind of (momentary) mass, chanted acceptance of love- and sex-positivity .

I was reminded of the 2003 hit from the “queen of Brazilian rock” by Chris Ryan1Ryan previously appeared in TP getting street-pissing advice from Dan Savage on his podcast this week. There he said that the song “will give you some great insight into the difference between your culture and Brazilian culture when it comes to sex. It’s a very frank discussion of the difference between sex and love, and it’s a beautiful song — a song I doubt you would ever hear on an American radio station.”

I think he may overestimate the cultural contrast just a bit; there’s still plenty of sexual repression in Brazil, as everywhere. But it’s a fun, lovely radio hit, and it offers a particular vision of where love and sex diverge. “Love is prose/Sex is poetry” and “Love makes us pathetic/Sex is a jungle of epileptics”. But there’s overlap: “Love is forever” she sings, in one of my favorite lines, “and so is sex.”

Previously, the song has only been available in a bad translation on a lyrics site. Here’s a more precise translation; I’ve tried for closeness of meaning (though it’s a bit open to interpretation), sometimes at the expense of the lyrical flow of the original (anyway, I’m hoping nobody will ever sing this song in English). As far as I can determine, the song was written by Rita Lee and her partner and producer Roberto de Carvalho.

Amor e Sexo

Amor é um livro
Sexo é esporte
Sexo é escolha
Amor é sorte…

Amor é pensamento
Teorema
Amor é novela
Sexo é cinema..

Sexo é imaginação
Fantasia
Amor é prosa
Sexo é poesia…

O amor nos torna
Patéticos
Sexo é uma selva
De epiléticos…

Amor é cristão
Sexo é pagão
Amor é latifúndio
Sexo é invasão
Amor é divino
Sexo é animal
Amor é bossa nova
Sexo é carnaval

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Amor é para sempre
Sexo também
Sexo é do bom
Amor é do bem…

Amor sem sexo
É amizade
Sexo sem amor
É vontade…

Amor é um
Sexo é dois
Sexo antes
Amor depois…

Sexo vem dos outros
E vai embora
Amor vem de nós
E demora…

Amor é cristão
Sexo é pagão
Amor é latifúndio
Sexo é invasão
Amor é divino
Sexo é animal
Amor é bossa nova
Sexo é carnaval

Amor é isso
Sexo é aquilo
E coisa e tal!
E tal e coisa!
Ai o amor!
Hum! O sexo!

Love and Sex

Love is a book
Sex is a sport
Sex is chosen
Love is good luck

Love is reasoning
A theorem
Love is a soap opera
Sex is the movies

Sex is imagination
Fantasy
Love is prose
Sex is poetry

Love makes us
pathetic
Sex is a jungle
of epileptics

Love is Christian
Sex is pagan
Love is a plantation
Sex is an illegal settlement
Love is divine
Sex is animal
Love is bossa nova
Sex is Carnival

Love is forever
And so is sex
Sex is great
Love is pure2A bit more creative but not unfair translation comes from Anne Haggerson: Sex is kinky good/Love is cozy good

Love without sex
is friendship
Sex without love
is desire

Love is one
Sex is two
Sex before
Love after

Sex comes from others
and goes away
Love comes from us
and lingers

Love is Christian
Sex is pagan
Love is a plantation
Sex is an illegal settlement
Love is divine
Sex is animal
Love is bossa nova
Sex is Carnival

Love is this
Sex is that
Something and whatever,
Whatever and something,
Ooooh, love!
Yum, sex!

 

Rita Lee in concert. Photo credit.

Rita Lee in concert. Photo by Alexandre Cardoso.

Thanks to Rosana Anjos, Anne Haggerson and Claudia D’Agostino Béreaud for their advice.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Ryan previously appeared in TP getting street-pissing advice from Dan Savage
2. A bit more creative but not unfair translation comes from Anne Haggerson: Sex is kinky good/Love is cozy good