Archive for June 12, 2011


Posted in Biographical, Music with tags , on June 12, 2011 by telescoper

I’ve been saving this remarkable old record for a rainy day, and since it’s been tipping down all morning I think it’s time to share it.

Just a few months after I moved to my house in bit of Cardiff called Pontcanna I went with a friend to a little Portuguese restaurant just around the corner. The food was pretty cheap, fairly simple, but very tasty. The staff were friendly but extremely disorganized, taking ages to produce the food even though the place wasn’t at all busy. They also had some Portuguese fado music playing while we waited. I normally don’t like music in restaurants because even if the music’s worth listening to – which it usually isn’t – you can’t hear it properly anyway over the chatter and sound of knives on plates. In this case, however, towards the end of the meal,  I heard, for the very first time, a record featuring an agonized voice – as much haunted as haunting – which immediately sent cold shivers down my spine. I asked the waitress who was singing on the record we were listening to, and she told me it was the great Alfredo Marceneiro.

I’m not going to pretend to be any kind of an expert on fado, although I have at least heard of Amália Rodrigues (the greatest female fado performer of the classic era), and am a big fan of her wonderful modern counterpart Mariza. I hadn’t known until that night in the restaurant that there were any male fado singers at all. However, Alfredo Marceneiro’s career spanned a half a century, from the mid 1920s, and he has been an immense influence on younger generations of musicians since then. His compositions have also become part of the standard  repertoire. I suppose you could say that Alfredo Marceneiro is to fado what Robert Johnson is to the blues.

Fado is very much a Portuguese genre and I suppose it’s difficult to “get” if you’re not brought up with the tradition or even the language. I barely know a word of Portuguese myself, and have no idea what the words of the following song actually mean. I think it’s a testament to the power of the music that the actual words don’t seem to matter all that much when you can sing out of your very soul like this man could.

I’m afraid the Youtube version of this track is a bit truncated, but I’m putting it up anyway because it’s exactly the recording I heard that night three years ago. I think it’s a riveting performance, by an extraordinary artist who is celebrated in his own country, but who in my opinion deserves much wider recognition.

P.S. I know that the title “Louco” means “Crazy” in Portuguese, but   I’d be very grateful if someone could supply a translation of the rest of the song…..

P.P.S. I went back to the restaurant about six months after the time I mention in the post, but it had changed name and ownership. It’s now cleaner, but has much less character and no music. I haven’t returned.


Astronomy Look-alikes, No. 56

Posted in Astronomy Lookalikes with tags , on June 12, 2011 by telescoper

I wonder if anyone else has noticed the remarkable resemblance between Dr Anthony Challinor and Ludwig Wittgenstein? I wonder if perhaps they might be related? After all, a picture is a fact…

Anthony Challinor

Ludwig Wittgenstein