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The song that started a revolution: 50 years of Portugal's 'E Depois Do Adeus'

25 April 2024 at 12:07 CEST
25 April is Portugal's national holiday Dia da Liberdade (Freedom Day)... With one Eurovision Song Contest entry having played an important part in that freedom, 'E Depois Do Adeus' by Paulo de Carvalho.

In 2024, we've already seen quite a lot written about one particular 50th anniversary connected to the Eurovision Song Contest, with pop fans around the world celebrating 5 whole decades since ABBA won for Sweden at Brighton in 1974. 

But there's another 50th anniversary of note this year; of a song that's had not only a cultural impact on Europe, but also left a very real political footprint, too. 

After winning Festival da Canção 1974, E Depois Do Adeus by Paulo de Carvalho was sent to Brighton to represent Portugal at the 19th Eurovision Song Contest. 

The official logo of the Eurovision Song Contest 1974

On the night of Saturday 6 April, the ballad, penned by José Calvário and José Niza, finished in 14th place with just 3 points, ending joint-last on the scoreboard alongside Germany, Norway and Switzerland. But back home in Portugal, the song's legacy was about to take on an unprecedented new life of its own.

In the country at the time, political dissent had been growing against the authoritarian rule of the Estado Novo government; to the extent that there was now a sufficient section of the national military who had formed a rebel alliance within, known as the MFA (Movimiento das Forças Armadas). 

Plans were made by the rebel soldiers to commence a revolution to overthrow the autocratic state. But a secret signal was needed to alert allies nationwide of just when this would be. The radio station Emissores Associados de Lisboas was instructed to play Portugal's Eurovision entry from a few weeks prior - E Depois Do Adeus by Paulo de Carvalho - at 22:55 local time on 24 April. This would alert rebel captains and soldiers to set the wheels in motion for the coup. 

The second signal came at 00:20 on 25 April, when Rádio Renascença broadcast Grândola, Vila Morena by Zeca Afonso. This signified that rebels should take action, moving towards strategic points of power throughout Portugal. 

Despite subsequent calls from the government via national radio stations for civilians to stay at home amid the unrest, the frustrated people of Portugal instead took to the streets to support the rebel movement in overthrowing their authoritarian rulers. 

A central gathering point for the uprising was the flower market of Lisbon, which resulted in the iconic imagery of the revolution that was broadcast around the world - gun barrels being stuffed with carnations, which were in widespread bloom at the time. This symbolic gesture led to the movement becoming known as the Carnation Revolution, which was thought of as an apt moniker, given how comparatively peaceful it had been, with very few shots fired.

By the evening of 25 April, the revolution was a success, with president Marcelo Caetano conceding. Portugal was able to transition to becoming a democracy, and the movement also resulted in the end of the Portuguese Colonial War. 

Thursday 25 April 2024 marks 50 years since this momentous date in Portugal's history, with this year's national holiday Dia da Liberdade no doubt being celebrated with even greater enthusiasm than usual. 

E Depois Do Adeus (And After The Farewell) might not have given Portugal its best result at the Eurovision Song Contest, but - to quote the song that triumphed on that night in 1974 - it will always have an important place in the country's "history book on the shelf"! 

You can listen to all 37 songs of Eurovision 2024 via your favourite streaming service or watch the music videos on our YouTube channel.

The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Malmö, Sweden on Tuesday 7 May (First Semi-Final), Thursday 9 May (Second Semi-Final) and Saturday 11 May (Grand Final) 2024.

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