Mulher Rendeira – ‘A Germanic Hit’

Over the past year or so I have been collecting the recorded versions of ‘Mulher Rendeira’ into a table with its accompanying data, i.e. Date Recorded, Country Recorded, Label etc. Of course this data may be incomplete as it is hard to find the comprehensive records of releases from the past eighty years without travelling all over the world, conducting interviews and going through hundreds of back catalogues! Nevertheless, my findings show some fairly surprising little trends:

Versions per Country (1937 – Present)

While the most versions were obviously recorded in the song’s original home of Brazil (67), the second highest number come, surprisingly, from Germany with 18 unique recordings. Next up is the USA with 15 versions, presumably due to the song’s ties to the stateside hit film O’Cangaceiro. Why though was ‘Mulher Rendeira’ such a hit in Germany?

The first Germanic version was recorded just one year after the release of the Baretto’s international hit film in 1953 and performed by the German virtuoso jazz violinist Helmut Zacharias. Zacharias had signed a contract with Polydor in the 50s and went on to release his own versions of classic tunes to which we can attribute his version of ‘Mulher Rendeira’, released as ‘O Cangaceiro’. It is hard to find the audio of Zacharias’ original yet over the next few years in Germany the song was covered and re-released by artists like Bruce Low (1961), Bert Kaempfert (1963) and James Last (1968). The German versions vaguely resemble Zé do Norte’s arrangement in style (toning the song down and smoothing its edges somewhat) whilst the lyrics have been once more translated, this time into German.The translation of the lyrics for the original German version seems to be attributed to German arranger Hans Bradtke.

Bruce Low – Ole O’Cangaceiro

The song quickly became not only become an established easy-listening classic but also made the transition into the Schlager genre which losely translates as “Hit” and is characterised as having simple, memorable melodies, sentimental lyrics and being very poppy. ‘Ole O Cangaceiro’ was adapted by schlagerists Roy Black (1969) and Heino (1995). Perhaps due to its meloduc simplicity and slightly exotic theme, ‘Mulher Rendera’ in a German context became a popular standard. I leave you with this gem of a German cover by Tony Marshall from 2006 (the lyrics are something to do with a dancing bear?! Note how Ole becomes a signifier of Latinism) which is somehow related to the original through the melody but more on ‘Mulher Rendeira’s’ melodic journey next time!

Tony Marshall – Ole, hier tanzt der Bär

One thought on “Mulher Rendeira – ‘A Germanic Hit’

  1. This is fascinating.
    Check my posts on The Columbiad coming soon.
    Hope you will like as much as I like this exploration of Mujer Hilandera.
    Truly a great job explaining the origins and mutations of this song.
    There is a biblical reading of ‘Mulher Rendeira’ you did not mention – check out Proverbs 31:19 in various Spanish translations
    (speaking of the virtuous weaver-woman and wife):;NVI;TLA;RVR1960

    English, King James Version (verse 19 in context):
    17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
    18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good:
    her candle goeth not out by night.
    19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
    20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor;
    yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
    21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household:
    or all her household are clothed with scarlet.
    22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry;
    her clothing is silk and purple.
    23 Her husband is known in the gates,
    when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
    24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it;
    and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
    25 Strength and honour are her clothing;
    and she shall rejoice in time to come.
    26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom;
    and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
    27 She looketh well to the ways of her household,
    and eateth not the bread of idleness.
    28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praiseth her.
    29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
    30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:
    but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
    31 Give her of the fruit of her hands;
    and let her own works praise her in the gates.


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