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 coupstarted 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

12 thoughts on “ESC History: How a Eurovision Song Started a Revolution

  1. I do not think that the song is “completely unpolitical”. Of course it is not political in the way “A luta é alegria” is but it talks about change and leaving after all, which can be interpreted as political withing the framework of early 70s Portuguese politics.
    I really like the song btw, which is one of the fantastic Portuguese entries of the 70s. Great orchestration too. 9/12.

  2. @ author

    Where did you learn such a fabulous, mostly idiomatic English? It is quite unusual for Germans to have.

  3. Indeed, “E depois do adeus” will always be associated with the 1974 revolution. It’s actually a very beautiful love song with excellent lyrics (happy and sad). That video also shows how important live music can be. The song is still played on some radio stations.

    P.S.: I heard “Ele e ela” on Antena 1 while driving last week. They played the song just before the nine o’clock news.

  4. It’s a very pretty song and my 3rd favourite in 1974. As far as I’ve understand, many Portuguese songs of the early 70’s did contain hidden political themes. I’m not a big fan of political lyrics – and especially not in ESC – but as long as it’s done in a clever and well-written way, hey I’m not protesting. ;)

  5. For me it’s extremely bad entry!! :(

    Very good entry is Piera Martell -“Mein Ruf nach dir” and ABBA – “Waterloo”!!

  6. No wonder why UK and Ireland almost always were TOP 2 in ESC earlier, LOOOL, all others were MILES BELOW them…

    • Nope, in particular England often had sent average and forgettable entries to the contest. That, the jury’s traditional obsession with bland western stuff, and the advantage to perform in English bestowed this ridiculous success record upon them. They did not deserve it.

  7. I really enjoy reading articles like this one. Congratulations to eurovisiontimes ;) :)

    Btw, Portugal 74 is my #10 for that year; good song but not as great as their 75, and especially their 71 and 76 efforts.

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