ESC History: How a Eurovision song started a revolution

Portugal – The 19th Eurovision Song Contest 1974 in Brighton was an important one in every respect. Not only did four young Swedes start their worldwide career there, which made them the most successful band Eurovision ever “produced”, but another song became important in a political sense. During the contest “E depois do adeus” by Paulo de Carvalho didn’t impress a lot of judges. The song came shared last (along with Switzerland, Germany and Norway) with only 3 points. 18 days later the song would start a revolution in the country by which it was entered into the contest: Portugal.

The so-called Carnation Revolution was a left-leaning military coup started on 25 April 1974, in Lisbon, Portugal, that effectively changed the Portuguese regime from an authoritarian dictatorship (Estado Novo) to a democracy after two years of a transitional period. The song was used as a secret sign  in the military coup: The radio station ‘Emissores Associados de Lisboa’  aired the song on 24 April at 22:50 and thus alerted the rebel captains and soldiers to begin the coup. A second signal the folk song “Grândola Vila Morena” by Zeca Afonso, which was the signal for the coup leaders to announce that they had taken control of strategic parts of the country.

The song , completely unpolitical, is a ballad, with Paulo de Carvalho taking the role of a man who is faced with the end of a relationship. He tells his lover how he feels, likening her to “a flower that I picked”, implying that the relationship was of a comparatively short duration. He also comments on the nature of love itself, singing that it is “winning and losing” “E depois do adeus”, a love song, started the revolution that brought Portugal democracy, which underlines that the proliferation of freedom and stability in Europe has close ties to Eurovision.

And here it is:  Paulo de Carvalho – E depois do adeus

13 thoughts on “ESC History: How a Eurovision song started a revolution

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  2. “A second signal the folk song “Grândola Vila Morena” by Zeca Afonso, which was the signal for the coup leaders to announce that they had taken control of strategic parts of the country.”

    Ah, that explains my confusion. When I watched a Dutch documentary about the coup (an episode in a series by Geert Mak called “In Europa”, frequently broadcast by DR), it did not mention “E depois do adeus” but that song. I then thought “what, wasn’t it the Eurovision entry”, but now it turns out both songs were used.

    My family has a Portuguese friend who came to Denmark in the early seventies. After watching the episode, my mum mentioned that he can actually sing that song (“Grândola Vila Morena”).

  3. Based on the documentary, ‘Lápis Azul’ (2013).

    Joao Paulo Diniz at 5 to 11 pm, 24 April ’74, was the man who made this happen, playing this euorvision song on ‘Radio Clube Portugues’, to signal the bringing down of the regime, as agreed with and instructed by Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho.

    However, Zeca song is by far more famous but all his song were banned so Carvalho song was chosen at the start.

    ‘E Depois do Adeus’ has been used as the theme music of the soap opera of the same name too on RTP.


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