REFLECTION: One note samba PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 April 2014 13:43



That’s, of course, the title of a song, a beautiful one by the Brazilian Antonio Carlos Jobim who composed many other wonderful songs that have made many of my generation swoon in dreamy delight.

That’s how I feel about his songs like “Quiet nights and quiet stars,” “Meditation,” “Waters of March,” and many others. I must confess that the first time I heard “One note samba” decades ago, I immediately fell in love with it and had been singing and dancing it, but only mentally. I could not act it out due to physical and social constraints.

But the more serious reason was that I also felt a little discomfort about it since its beat and lyrics were kind of sensuous, and if I were not careful I was sure I would end up with some unwelcome thoughts and feelings.

I was certain the composer had lovers in mind when he made it, and so I felt I could not do full justice to it unless I had a girl in mind with whom I was supposed to be madly in love. And I had none, even in my wildest and most carefree years of youth, long before I ever thought of becoming a priest, celibate and all that.

It was not until I read something by Pope John Paul II, who will be a saint by April 27, who said to the effect that no matter how wrong or defective things are, there must be something right and good in them, otherwise these wrong things cannot stand and attract us.

He said that we need to be quick to identify these good and true elements, sifting them from the errors, and make use of them to transform what’s wrong with a particular statement, philosophy or ideology.

And so I thought why not apply this principle also to songs that have given me conflicting feelings. And true enough, I discovered that there are hidden gems embedded in “One note samba.” It was just a matter of purifying it and orienting it properly.

So, instead of a girl as the one simple and root note referred to in the song, I would just think of God, then the song becomes perfect and safe. Its sensuousness poses no more danger but rather would help me enter into a more sublime reality.

This is not to say that to fall in love with a girl is wrong in itself. What is wrong is when one falls for her when he is not meant to do so, or when such falling leads to certain aberrations.

With these clarifications in mind, then one can sing songs like the One Note Samba without guilt feelings. And the lyrics in fact become very meaningful.

“This is just a little samba / built upon a single note…” This line can mean we are starting an interesting affair with God as the seed, a thought that is reinforced by the next line: “Other notes are sure to follow / but the root is still that note.”

“Now this new note is the consequence / of the one we have been through / As I’m bound to be / the unavoidable consequence of you.” These are beautiful words, loaded with meaning referring to how we and our thoughts and actions ought to be organic reflections and extensions of God and his power and love, etc.

“There’s so many people who can talk and talk and talk / and just say nothing / or nearly nothing.” This presumes that when one is not with that one note, God, he can say many things and yet not mean anything or hardly anything.

This is reinforced by the succeeding line: “I have used up all the scale I know / and at the end / I’ve come to nothing.”

Then the coup the grace: “So I must come back to my first note / as I must come back to you. / I will pour into that one note / all the love I feel for you. / Anyone who wants the whole show / re mi fa sol la si do / will find himself with no show / better play the note you know.”

The song is actually a tremendously irresistible appeal to come back to God who is the source of everything—of love, unity, truth, goodness, etc. When we have these thoughts, we should not be afraid anymore to give our heart to samba songs or anything in the world!

In these times of rapid worldly developments, this should be attitude to have.