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416HPA3BYJL._SL500_AA300_Cibo Matto (with Sean Lennon), “Aguas De Marco” (1997)
from Super Relax
Warner Brothers 

After supper I take the dog for a walk. He is young, and he his willful, and he has just started marking, so smells are very important to him. And, with a singularity of purpose few can match, he pulls.

There is a small wood near our house that fills with snow in the winter. In March, when the thaw comes, it empties and sends a stream meandering down the street. So when the dog pulls, he pulls me across this stream and through puddles.

Now it is just light enough after supper that these puddles are not pools of ink but mirrors showing clouds and stars and yellow lights of dusk. And I wonder, does he notice this, does he think he is walking across a wet sky?

And so “Waters of March” comes to mind. After Tom Jobim and Elis Regina’s joyous, untouchable original, my favorite version is this wisely faithful cover by Cibo Matto and Sean Lennon. The song suits their homemade aesthetic warmly, and they don’t English the lyrics. Some things are simply better, or more wonderfully inscrutable, in Portuguese.

Someone, I forget who, observed that both Jobim and Brian Wilson wrote water music, inspired by the beach, the surf, and the cultures—in Hawthorne or Ipanema—that grew up near the ocean. I was about to extend that idea to this song, and to waters created by the thaw, when I remember that in Brazil, March marks the end of summer and not the beginning of spring.

I’m not sure, when it’s sung in Portuguese, it makes any difference.

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The Kendalls, “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away” (1973)
from Heaven’s Just a Sin Away
Ovation OV 1719

Nothing at all creepy about a father and daughter singing about incipient adultery. Yet the clavinet somehow takes the funkiness of the situation, makes it literal, and all moral queasiness is banished: Alchemy.

And put your hands together for the Ovation Records logo. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

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