I’ve always been captivated by words and how they express meaning. And I’ve always been fascinated by different languages and how sometimes the most beautiful meaning can be lost in translation.
In 2016 I released my second album titled “SAUDADES”.
The word had my attention when I heard my friend Emily from Tin Pan Orange’s song. It’s a word that says as much as it feels. A Portuguese word for a deep emotional state of nostalgia or profound longing for an absent something or someone you love… often with a knowledge they might never return.
One of the things that grabbed me about this word is that there is no English translation. So the beautiful essence of the word is never truly understood by English speakers. It has made me curious. How many other words, phrases, sayings and feelings exist in one language or culture and not in others?
So I’ve started the Saudades Project.
I’m calling to friends, fans and family to share their experiences with untranslatable language. What words or feelings do you struggle to describe in English. What is your Saudade experience? I want to explore this concept in music, art, poetry, photography and whatever creative way articulates the idea for you.
Explore it with me with the contributions beloW.... And If you have an example please email email@example.com
And if you want to experience my exploration of this concept, buy/stream Saudades here: www.leahflanagan.com/listen
NICK CAVE - The Secret Life of the Love Song
I first stumbled upon this lecture by Nick Cave when I was studying music as a teenager in Adelaide when I was going through my obsessive Nick Cave stage as many of us songwriters do. I bought all his albums (before the world of streaming) and tried to find as many books about him, his life and artistic process. It’s when I first remember hearing of the concept of Saudade and I didn’t think much of it until making this album, this project and wanting to delve into the philosophy behind the word.
You can listen to it below:
CESARIA EVORIA - Sodade
Cesaria Evoria is one of my all time favourite singers. The effortless ability to capture such emotion in raw tone is something many singers do not have. It truly is a gift. - Leah Flanagan
"Sodade" is one of many songs written throughout the history of migration in Cape Verde, including the whaling era. Departures of friends and family, known as "despididas" in Portuguese and Creole, were often accompanied by "mornas" to bid farewell to loved ones and neighbors with a "serenata" or serenade. Songs like "Sodade" are reminiscent of this tradition and represent the nostalgia associated with migration in Cape Verde for more than two centuries. Many songs, like "Sodade", were composed to farewell loved ones.
The history of Cape Verdeans as global migrants (an inherent influence on Cape Verdean culture and music) is why morna lyrics, like the lyrics of "Sodade", are often melancholic and nostalgic. - Wikipedia
my first saudade - goodbye
I think I have naturally been drawn to the concept/feeling of Saudade. My personality seems to instinctually connect more deeply with emotions whether they be joyous, melancholy or displeasurable ones. I believe this is reflected in my songwriting and the artists I become drawn to listening to and ultimately favour.
I believe Goodbye to be my first honest Saudade, the opening song from my 2010 album Nirvana Nights. - Leah Flanagan
Shouganai and letting go of worry
There is a word that does not translate to English that has totally stolen my heart.
It is the Japanese word 'Shouganai'.
Based in the concept of fate - the word means if something can’t be helped, why worry about it? Worrying won’t stop the bad things from happening, it will only stop you from enjoying the good ones.
Beautiful right. And it's become a big part of my mantra and my Saudade.
Gökotta (Swedish): To wake up early in the morning with the specific purpose of going outside to hear the first birds sing. It confers approving societal attention on a highly enriching activity we have almost certainly been neglecting of late.
Painting by Karen Barnes from personal collection of Leah Flanagan.
In German there are two ways to say “I Miss You’. One is “Ich vermisse dich”, and the other is “Du fehlst mir”.There’s no real translation for “Du fehlst mir” in English it turns around the subject.
It’s not “I who am doing the missing”, it’s “you who are missing within me”.
By turning it around, it takes all the ego out of the action of missing. It’s not me performing that action of missing, it’s you who is missing within me. There is something egoless and selfless about that form of missing that you never really quite get in English. - Melanie Robinson