As you may know, the hook-line occurs in the middle eight, and it took me a few bars to tune in to the Portuguese, so I still had time to wonder how the translator would handle those words ( 'I just called to say I love you'). Many years ago I was trying to make a living by various means - one of which was translating songs. So I am alive to the problems of translation, and familiar with the sexist joke about a good translation being like a woman - faithful or attractive, but not both. In fact my one foray into the world of translating a Brazilian song was António Carlos Jobim's Engano, which rather than the rather prosaic 'Deceit' or the unfortunately punning 'Deception' - punning for linguists, anyway - I called 'How wrong'.
Você sempre me disseAnyway, returning to 'I just called to say I love you' I wasn't surprised by Só chamei, nor by te amo. But joining them was not p'ra dizer - which I half expected, in spite of the extra syllable - but porque. Good call - musically better, suiting the singer's plaintive voice, and giving an extra rhyme (chamei/porque). Thinking back to my 'How wrong', I remember shying away from the heat of those kisses in ll. 3-4 of Jobim's original:
Que é falso meu amor
Que os beijos que lhe dou
Não têm nenhum calor... [I think. It was 35 years ago, and Essex bl**dy Music didn't return my copy of Boss Bossas - not that I bear a grudge, you understand.]
My love you always said(The actual words escape me - though they may be in the loft, if they've survived 35 Spring Cleans). I held over the idea of burning until I came to the later lines:
My love was never true -
My kiss, you said, was cold
And dum-di dum-di you
I only made a showIn translating songs, faithfulness is the least (and perhaps last) of your worries.
Of love whose fire was dead
And only kindled to
Another's warm Hello.
Those were the days; still, Music and Language's loss was Technical Documentation's gain. And, by happy chance, António Carlos Jobim (writer of the song I translated - keep up) appeared on the same Getz/Gilberto album. What goes around comes around - preferably on black vinyl.
Update: 2016.09.16.11:15 – Removed old footer and fixed typo