Reflector #8: Charles Aznavour – “Lisboa”

“Lisboa” sounds like a misplaced tango but the lyrics have all the ingredients for a fado song.

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

He is one of those legends who seem immortal until the day of their death. In his case, in 2018 at the ripe age of 94 when until recently he had still been touring the world, vocal skills almost intact, many years after his first ‘farewell tour’. The French born but with Armenian origins  – given away by his birth name Shahnourh Varinag Aznavourian – launched in 2003 an LP called Je Voyage (I Travel) which opens with “Lisboa”. Strangely, it sounds like a misplaced tango. However, the lyrics are about one reminiscing full of remorse on a young love left behind, before going into exile, where the city is also personified as a loved one. In other words, all the ingredients for a fado song.

One interesting fact: Portugal was the first non-Francophone country where Charles Aznavour performed live.

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