Art Art Music

Mr. Extraterrestrial and Fado Music

Fado (fate, death, utterance) is a song type that appeared in the 19th century in the old neighborhoods of Lisbon such as Mouraria and Alfama and nowadays is a national symbol of Portugal, being classified as UNESCO immaterial world heritage.

In the begining, fadistas (fado singers) were mainly from urban working-class namely sailors, bohemians and courtesans. It was danced, but along time that was lost and nowadays the Fado sessions are quite solemn. In Casas de Fado (Houses of Fado), before someone sings the patron usually says “Silence! Fado will be sang.”

Fado is well-know for the utilization of rubato (the music pauses at the end of a phrase and the singer holds the note for dramatic effect) and is traditionally played on a special instrument: the portuguese guitar.

Amália Rodrigues (1920 – 1999) is one of the most well know fado singers, by many called the Queen of Fado. In 1982, she launched an album called “Sr. Extraterrestre” (Mr. Extraterrestrial) in a clear challenge of the traditional fado song themes and arrangments.
In an interview, Amália said “The lyrics are not responsible, neither the music, neither do I…”

Album and album cover. Notice the dog with a Darth Vader helmet.

Sr. Extraterrestre lyrics were written by Carlos Paião, a famous pop singer, and describes the encounter of a traditional portuguese woman with an alien. She askes the alien not about the space, or technology, but about if it is married, to show his kids pictures and if in his planet there is salted codfish (a very appreciated food in Portugal that at the time was in shortage).
In the end, she offers him a warm shirt, food for the travel and a glass of wine before his departure.

Another possible interpretation is that Amália and Carlos Paião are using the “Mr. Extraterrestrial” to refer to the portuguese expats, a very big community at the time, but more and more alienated from their origin country and families.

Mr. Extraterrestrial

I’m going to tell you a story that
I can’t take out of my head
For me it was a great event in this spacial era.

The other day I shivered when I opened my door and saw
A huge ufo landed on my backyard.


Immediately I went knocking at its door, opened it a crooked character
I said: «If you don’t mind could you move out,

I have my clothes drying and it’s going to get dirty
If this thing stays here smoking like that”.

Mr. ET became a little flustered
Tried to speak but just said «Pi», was badly tuned


Turned left and right a little button and was able to tell me then
That he had been fined ‘cause he was caught without his driver’s license.

“I am sorry, Mister, I don’t want to sound rude,
But where you are brings me no good nor bad

But I’m afraid about my neighbor, she seems to be able to guess
That I’m home alone with a stranger.

Since you’re standing there, come and have a coffee
You don’t look like a bad guy

I also would like to know if from where you’re coming
Don’t you know anyone who can get me some codfish?”.

And Mr. ET became a little flustered
Tried to speak but just said «Pi», was badly tuned

Turned left and right a little button and told me to take care
‘Cause where he’s coming from there’s no scent of sardines and much less of codfish.

“Tell me now some news:
Are you married? Do you miss her?
Already have kids? How old are they?
Only one? Looks like whom?

You have pictures, for sure. Show me.
Oh so precious! Isn’t he a beauty? So greenish, like his father.

Are you holding the keys, already?Going back to the plane?
Hold on, there’s some sandwich for the trip.

And put on that flannel shirt
So you won’t catch cold from the fresh air when you open the window.”

And Mr. ET became a little flustered
Tried to speak but just said «Pi», was badly tuned

Turned left and right a little button and was able to tell me then
That he wants me to visit him, he finds me funny when I talk
Or, at least, I could write to him.

And Mr. ET became a little flustered
Tried to speak but just said «Pi», was badly tuned

Turned left and right a little button just to tell me: «God bless you.»
I gave him a glass of wine and he left on his way, a little bit zigzag way.

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/o-sr-extraterrestre-mr-et.html

Sr. Extraterrestre

Vou contar-vos uma história que
não me sai da memória,
foi p’ra mim uma vitória nesta era espacial.

Noutro dia estremeci quando abri a porta e vi
um grandessíssimo ovni pousado no meu quintal.

Fui logo bater à porta, veio uma figura torta,
eu disse: “Se não se importa poderia ir-se embora.

Tenho esta roupa a secar e ainda se vai sujar
se essa coisa aí ficar a deitar fumo pra fora.”

E o senhor extraterrestre viu-se um pouco atrapalhado,
Quis falar mas disse “pi”, estava mal sintonizado.

Mexeu lá no botãozinho e pôde contar-me, então,
que tinha sido multado por o terem apanhado sem carta de condução.


“O senhor desculpe lá, não quero passar por má,
pois você aonde está não me adianta nem me atrasa.

O pior é a vizinha que parece que adivinha
quando vir que eu estou sozinha com um estranho em minha casa.

Mas já que está aí de pé venha tomar um café,
faz-me pena, pois você nem tem cara de ser mau.

E eu queria saber também se na terra donde vem
não conhece lá ninguém que me arranje bacalhau.”

E o senhor extraterrestre viu-se um pouco atrapalhado.
Quis falar mas disse “pi”, estava mal sintonizado.

Mexeu lá no botãozinho, disse para me pôr a pau,
pois na terra donde vinha
nem há cheiro de sardinha
quanto mais de bacalhau.

“Conte agora novidades:
É casado? Tem saudades?
Já tem filhos? De que idades?
Só um? A quem é que sai?


Tem retratos, com certeza.
Mostre lá, ai que riqueza!
Não é mesmo uma beleza?
Tão verdinho, sai ao pai.

Já está de chaves na mão?
Vai voltar pr’o avião?
Espere, que já ali estão umas sandes p’ra viagem

E vista também aquela camisinha de flanela
P’ra quando abrir a janela não se constipar co’a aragem.”

E o senhor extraterrestre viu-se um pouco atrapalhado.
Quis falar mas disse “pi”, estava mal sintonizado.

Mexeu lá no botãozinho e pôde-me então dizer
que quer que eu vá visitá-lo, que acha graça quando eu falo
ou ao menos pra escrever.

E o senhor extraterrestre viu-se um pouco atrapalhado,
quis falar mas disse “pi”, estava mal sintonizado.

Mexeu lá no botãozinho só pra dizer: “Deus lhe pague.”
Eu dei-lhe um copo de vinho e lá foi no seu caminho
que era um pouco em ziguezague.

I believe Mr. Extraterrestrial was a try to break with the tradition, opening ways to modernize and experiment with Fado music. Recently, other singers followed her example, mixing Fado with other types of music and experimenting new poems.
But no other, that I know, had the audicity to include science fiction ideas in their lyrics.

Another interpretation of ” Mr. Extraterrestrial ” by a younger fadista

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