Reflector #20: Devendra Banhardt – “Santa Maria da Feira”

Devendra Banhart used some Spanish to talk about a Portuguese city, but he kept his panties out of it.

“Reflector” is series undertaken by Atlas correspondent David Soares to bring to your attention songs by non-Portuguese bands inspired — in many cases, rather mysteriously — by the westernmost European nation.

In 2004, Devendra Banhart took part in the Festival Para Gente Sentada (Festival For People Sitting), a weekend-long festival dedicated to singer-songwriters that used to take place in the medieval city of Santa Maria da Feira, lying roughly halfway between Porto and Aveiro.
Not sure this was the peira he ate there, whatever that is (the rhyme attempt went pear-shaped), but apparently it caused enough impact to include a song with this name in his next album, the amazing Cripple Crow.
Now, you can notice that the song is sung in Spanish. Devendra Banhart can be excused. It could be due to the extensive touring he was doing at the time and maybe he just got confused about his whereabouts. Or, he decided to use a language he already mastered and eschewed from butchering another. After all, in his song “Carolina” released last year, he does sing ‘Eu deveria aprender português, algum dia’ (‘I should learn Portuguese, someday’).

In the meantime, the Festival Para Gente Sentada has moved north to Braga. But maybe the host town wouldn’t give its name to the song nowadays. Apparently, braga is Spanish for panty. This could be misleading.


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