Times of Gall

It all started in 1967. But for all the hoopla around the 30th anniversary of Tropicalismo it looks more like a centennial. Special stories have appeared on TV, newspapers and magazines. Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, two of the leaders of the movement, have just released new CDs. Is it all just repeated hype and overkilling by a culture suffering from an inferiority complex? Brazzil tries to answer this and many other questions.

Bruce Gilman

"I'm a tropicalista, I always doubt the criteria used to evaluate art. That's why many times I have preferred the chaff to the wheat."
Caetano Veloso

Thirty years after Tropicália, the Municipal City Hall in Salvador, Bahia, announced that the theme for their Carnaval next year will be Tropicalismo. Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and Gal Costa will be playing outstanding roles as special reverence is paid to Osmar Macedo, father of the trio elétrico, who died recently. The event will provide an opportunity to recall a turning point in Brazilian culture and summarize not only the work of the three legendary Bahian musicians, but other Baianos as well, especially poet Torquato Neto, who in partnership with Gil wrote what became the hymn of the Tropicália movement, "Geléia Geral":

A poet unfurls the flag
And the tropical morn begins to beat
Resplendent, cascading, gracious
A joyous sunflower heat
In the general jam of Brazil
That the
Jornal do Brasil will greet

And the celebration has started already with the release of Tropicália 30 Anos on the Natasha Records label. Paying homage to the movement spearheaded by Caetano, Gil, and company, the disc (see listing of titles and performers below) features new versions of Tropicália classics and unites tropicalistas Caetano, Gil, Tom Zé, and Gal Costa with new generation Baianos like Margareth Menezes, Daniela Mercury, Carlinhos Brown, and the Banda Eva.

Additional commemorations of the movement include TV and radio specials; the publication of avant-guard film maker Gláuber Rocha's correspondence; the third edition of the assembled work of poet Torquato Neto; the book Tropicália: A História de Uma Revolução Musical by journalist Carlos Calado; an exhibit in Germany of the works of plastic artist Hélio Oiticica; and a retrospective of the works of Lygia Clark in Barcelona. Why all this hoopla? Just five years ago there were celebrations for "25 Years of Tropicália"!

The movement has been lauded, flaunted, and studied by the artistic and academic community for years. Much has been written about it, even outside Brazil. One begins to suspect that all this about Tropicália is just repeated hype, another ramification of Brazil's cultural inferiority complex. Wasn't Tropicália more a reprocessing of several things than the start of a new genre? In interviews during the Som Brasil TV special, Gal Costa asserted, "Tropicalismo is still a reference for a generation. It is important that these songs are remembered." Gilberto Gil affirmed, "Tropicália brought a new attitude, a new way of looking at music within the culture, a feeling of plurality and democracy." What is appearing now, after thirty years, are influential works and testimonies of people who actually lived Tropicália.

Over the past three decades, Tropicália has become a legend. Typically, its ideas have become overgrown and obscured by fiction. Divergent evaluations of a movement are not uncommon, but in the case of Tropicália there is still controversy about what the movement stood for. Its admirers are as much at odds as its critics. This situation has led to the assumption that Tropicália lacked any coherent philosophy. Any attempt to refute this assumption would lack historical perspective without at least a brief account of the legend's origins.

Rise and Fall

Tropicália was the last great Brazilian cultural movement, a movement to end all movements, and an insight into Brazilian reality. Not only was it a musical movement, but an acknowledged arts movement that manifested itself in sculpture, literature, painting, film, theater, poetry, and the plastic arts. The name itself came from the April 1967 ambient-art exhibition, "Tropicália," at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio by Hélio Oiticica. Artists dreaming of a new aesthetic for Brazil and struggling to dispel the absurd fantasy images of Brazil, brought issues to the fore such as the consumer mentality and the impact of mass media while at the same time urging the destruction of the political right and the concept of Brazil as solely Carioca.

It is curious that the kindling of this movement came not from the main cultural centers of Rio and São Paulo, but from Bahia and the context of Bahia's turbulent culture in the 1960s. There was a distinct petulance that existed in Bahia at that time. Artists had the freedom to create, to be ambitious, to be daring. To a large extent, this attitude stemmed from work done by the dean of the University of Bahia, Edgar Santos, who opened the schools of theater, dance, and music there. Universidade da Bahia (UFBA) was a factory of ideas where young Baianos formulated the vision of an artistic vanguard and strove to create works that would appear advanced even to the "First World." Professors like instrument inventor Walter Smetak and author/theater director Luis Carlos Maciel taught pioneering concepts about art that influenced an entire generation. Encouraged by this attitude and by the presence of these innovative minds, the stage was set for a cultural boiling over. If the public didn't understand, damn them!

Tropicália had the same intention to modernize Brazilian culture as the Semana de Arte Moderna movement of 1922, which was a revolt against the conservative tradition that took place in São Paulo. Semana de Arte advocated a liberation from precepts and preconceived notions; it rebelled against the exaggerated eloquence and false reverence for the fine arts. Metaphors of cannibalism were employed to encourage the creative adaptation and integration of European aesthetic ideas. Artists devoured the classical art that was considered passé and infused it with their personal vision reconstituting it in original new forms. Semana de Arte moved toward a Brazilian view of the world under a cannibalistic banner, toward a critical assimilation of the foreign experience and its reconstitution in terms and circumstances Brazilian. The movement of 1922 was marked by a rebellious, anti-establishment spirit, but in terms of ideology it developed as dynamic nationalism.

The roots of Tropicália lie in the Semana de Arte Moderna movement, but its flowering was connected to something completely new to Brazil, a phenomenon the government and public was not prepared for: a counterculture. This was something "first world," and at the same time genuinely Brazilian. It was a counterculture that was dazzled by what was happening in the United States and England where the artist was placed in front of reality, free and unconditionally. A sense of exhilaration developed, manifesting an uncontrollable urge to absorb everything. Perceptions of art were stripped down to their barest components, then rearranged, recycled, and recombined into new patterns and new relationships until only distant fragments of the original concept remained. Everything was fair game.

In 1964, with its rampant inflation and massive foreign debt, Brazil was in a state of financial chaos. Convinced that the country had become ungovernable and that the leftward swing of politics had gone far enough, a group of army generals took control and embarked on a campaign of widespread physical violence. Fire hoses were turned repeatedly on the country's citizens, and political opponents were tortured and murdered. Repression after the 1964 military coup turned Brazil into a creative desert. Ironically, these deplorable measures nurtured artists' creativity. Having courage became fashionable. All disciplines exhibited imaginative and agile solutions in order to "co-exist" with the regime's grim prohibitions. Artists became specialists in metaphor as politics and art walked side by side.

Tropicália's musical profile was its most controversial side. In the evolutionary chain of musical protest movements, Tropicalismo was the next major development after bossa nova. Challenging accepted artistic custom, tropicalistas attempted to overcome what they felt was Brazil's musical under-development. They built a neo-cannibalistic strategy by drawing liberally from the radical literary Modernism of the 1920s, the concrete poets of the 1950s, as well as from samba, indigenous music, Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles. Emphasis was placed on uniting the most advanced musical ideas.

Compositions were perceptive, humorous, and often paradoxical blends that created controversies, critically assessed cultural traditions, or focused on the incongruities in society. Many examined the country's contradictory socio-economic structure, an edifice battered by inflation where the archaic and the modern coexisted and collided. In their effort to "turn-on" Brazilian popular music, Tropicalistas wore radically long hair and psychedelic clothing and used electric guitars as tactics in their cultural guerrilla warfare.

Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, two Bahian musicians who advocated creative openness and a critical revision of Brazilian popular music in general, propelled this brief but tremendously influential movement. Gil is a musician with an incredible rhythmic feel, an artistic temperament, and deep emotional perception. Caetano, an intellectual and philosopher, an irrational person fascinated with reason is often considered the movement's central figure, both as a songwriter and a cultural agitator. Caetano recently affirmed, however, that Gil was the one who was ahead of everybody, that it was Gil who was the most courageous, and that Gil was leading and opened up what Caetano, coming from behind, would later organize and frame. Notwithstanding, the strength of Tropicalismo lay in their unique differences.

In 1965 both Gil and Veloso were in São Paulo and had been exposed to the thriving arts scene there. It was in São Paulo that they developed the hot sound mixture concept and foreshadowed today's "mixologists." Their idea was to create music where everything had its place: Luiz Gonzaga, the Beatles, Chuck Berry, João Gilberto, where guitar and the pandeiro were children of the same mother.

Joining Caetano and Gil were poet-lyricists Torquato Neto and José Carlos Capinam, songwriter Tom Zé, vocalists Gal Costa and Nara Leão, the rock trio Os Mutantes, and composer-arranger Rogério Duprat. The group placed particular value on the interplay of music and text, and drew special inspiration from the most radical of the Brazilian Modernists, Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954). With Oswald de Andrade as their beacon, their objective was to retake the evolutionary line of Brazilian music.

The group's creative energies resulted in the collective album Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis (Tropicália or Bread and Diversion), a public declaration of motives and a realization of the movement's aesthetic principles. The title, a mixture of languages, was extracted from the poet Juvenal who voiced contempt for Roman citizens who lived like cattle, asking for nothing more than food and entertainment. Several tracks on the Tropicália album address social issues, but rather than denouncing injustices or the plight of the rural poor, the collective pokes fun at the country's developmental furor and focuses on personal alienation in Brazilian society.

Tom Zé's "Parque Industrial" (Industrial Park) satirizes the enthusiasm with which industrialization and the implantation of an export economy were viewed as solutions to Brazil's problems. The song also criticizes stereotyping in advertising and challenges the period's pro-development hypothesis. "Baby" by Caetano Veloso unveils the exaggerated importance placed on English in formulas of success, youth's concern with being up-to-date, and the creation of false needs by consumerism. It effectively raises questions about super-power nations tampering in foreign affairs—suspicions ran deep that the CIA had masterminded the 1964 coup.

"Geléia Geral" (General Jam)1 by Gil and Torquato Neto synthesizes the objectives of the Bahian group in music and text by juxtaposing the rustic with the industrial. The traditional northeastern folk genre bumba-meu-boi is used as a rhythmic foundation, but contrasts sharply with the electric rock instrumentation, while the tune's lyrics mock unbridled patriotism and the pompous stature of traditional fine arts. A collective concept album, Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis stirred heated controversy and stimulated discussions of musical history and the role of popular music in society. The LP has maintained a position as one of the most important documents of contemporary Brazilian culture.

Gil and Caetano decided to use the third MPB festival (October 1967) as forum to kick off their radical new musical movement. Annual pop music festivals were one of the most important developments on the music scene at this time. They were as much a national craze as soccer games. Caetano performed "Alegria, Alegria" (Joy, Joy) backed by the Beat Boys, a rock group from Argentina. The tune was a march with an interesting relationship to Chico Buarque's "A Banda." Chico Buarque and Caetano were great rivals at that time. You can actually sing the lyrics of one of these tunes over the melody of the other. The intensely nationalistic audience revered "authentically" Brazilian music. When they heard "Alegria, Alegria," an anti-nationalist rock song, Caetano was booed. Many of the listeners could not relate to its fragmented imagery:

Walking against the wind
Without handkerchief, without documents
In the almost December sun, I go
The sun scatters into spaceships, guerrillas
...teeth, legs, flags, the bomb, and Brigitte Bardot.

Gil's entry, "Domingo no Parque" (Sunday at the Park), included the Bahian capoeira rhythm, electric instrumentation, and cinematic lyrics. The song's arrangement by Rogério Duprat, an orchestral conductor with a solid background in experimental music, was strongly influenced by the Beatles' "A Day in the Life," from their 1967 Sgt. Pepper's album.

The next year, at the Third International Song Festival in São Paulo, Gil outraged the jury and audience with the clamorous "Questão de Ordem" (Question of Order). The composition was disqualified shortly before Caetano presented his latest affront, "É Proibido Proibir" (It's Forbidden to Forbid). Veloso appeared with the rock group Os Mutantes (The Mutants)—Sérgio Dias Baptista (guitar and vocals), his brother Arnaldo Dias Baptista (bass, keyboards, and vocals) and Rita Lee (flute and vocals)—who were dressed in plastic clothes for the event. Veloso was booed even more loudly than he had been for "Alegria, Alegria" and was unable to finish the song. He did, however, deliver a now famous off-the-cuff discourse chastising his intolerant audience.

This confrontation of deadly purism with excessive freedom seemed marketable, and soon commercial interests were attempting to exploit the anti-establishment sentiment of Tropicália to create a fad. But Caetano and Gil had been living too close to the edge. They had irritated the authorities with their tropicalista "chaos." The military regime feared the movement might induce Brazilian youth toward a lifestyle of drugs and anarchy.

In December, 1968, the military regime decreed Ato Institucional No. 5 (Institutional Act No. 5, or AI-5) and finished off the few remaining democratic freedoms that still survived after the 1964 coup. AI-5 removed all human rights, everything that the constitution had guaranteed. People were jailed without legal defense, without trials. According to the principles of the military revolution, the people of Brazil had no rights. Tropicália as a movement dissolved with its single collective recording effort, Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis.

Institutional Act No. 5 had lasting consequences for many tropicalistas. Different from many of their friends on the left, they were more inclined to face up to the dictatorship; that increased their suffering. Artistic careers were cut short by imprisonment, torture, and beatings. Censorship of the press hindered the public's knowledge of much of the absurd violence that was being directed against hundreds of intellectuals, journalists, and democratic resistors. Television programming was often interrupted with the word "censored" boldly scripted across the screen. Constraints were not only politically motivated; the regime also censored themes connected with sensuality and sexuality. Student informers—censors for the regime—infiltrated the universities and denounced both students and professors. Freedom of speech was severely curtailed by a general sense of uneasiness and distrust of the censor. People were afraid to talk to their neighbors.

Artists like Chico Buarque and singer-songwriter Geraldo Vandré, who were just beginning their careers and were nervous about the cuts, impositions, and artificial techniques they were forced to use to deceive the censors, fled the country. Buarque looked for refuge in Italy; Geraldo Vandré went to Chile after a dangerous escape. Music critic Tárik de Sousa, now 47 years old, who started to work for the press in 1968, described the period as a nightmare, "We could not mention names like Chico Buarque, not even to report news that had nothing to do with music."

Caetano and Gil were arrested on December 27, 1968, in São Paulo. The Baianos were taken to Rio and imprisoned. A few months later they were moved to Salvador and "invited" to leave the country. The tropicalistas found a cold refuge in London, where they remained in exile until 1972. Gal Costa, a singer whose lifestyle symbolized the openness and freedom of Tropicália, recorded their songs and served as a medium for Caetano and Gil while they were in exile. As AI-5 marked the death of the movement, the arrest of Caetano and Gil marked its funeral procession.

The Comfort

Gilberto Gil does not accept the theory that Brazil under the dictatorship was one of the most creative periods of MPB, precisely because of the need to go around the censors. Gil said recently that he just wrote tunes that he wouldn't have otherwise. Lyricist Aldir Blanc also does not agree that the seeds of creativity were greater because of the censors. Poet Waly Salomão feels that there have been few times in Brazilian history where the youth have been as creative as they are today. "They are the rams butting their horns against the walls of mediocrity."

Nonetheless, Luís Carlos Maciel (journalist, author, and theater director) feels that having courage was easier in the late sixties and that comfort now controls too much of Brazil's artistic daring. He argues that artists want to have a house, a nice car, a computer, the Internet, and that this contemporary paraphernalia is seducing them into a dependence on it. In an interview with Jornal do Brasil, Maciel said, "When people lack the disposition to abandon their comfort and have the courage to risk, things remain static. In a context of comfort, being courageous is difficult. But risk is exactly what artists did in the late 1960s. Tropicalismo was more than a revolt against the military dictatorship."

Maciel feels that the space for a counterculture has been significantly reduced and that creating vanguard music, theater, or film is more difficult now because works of art have to please the public. "If they don't, they're finished." He acknowledged that the rules of marketing are stronger today than they were in the 1960s and that the possibility of another Brazilian arts movement with the magnitude of Tropicália is weaker.

What MPB would have been without this very rough interruption is difficult to evaluate. That obscure two-year period of history ushered in a wide spectrum of influences. Tropicália greatly accelerated MPB's musical and textual experimentation and diversification and gave all who came after a greater sense of freedom. The rock of the 1970s and 1980s was a direct descendent of Tropicália. Trailblazing groups like Blitz and Titãs, that were the most tropicalista in their approach, were responsible for opening the doors of rock to that generation. There are traces of Tropicália in today's Axé music, in the music of Carlinhos Brown and Chico Science, and in the Afro-Baiano Carnaval.

It would be safe to say that since Tropicalismo, nothing has been the same. Ex-Mutante Rita Lee stated in a recent interview, "Tropicália was a tattoo for the rest of your life, the musical kindergarten where I learned to write lyrics in Portuguese, to sing in Spanish, to play in English, to dance in African, and to compose in Esperanto." Tropicalista director José Celso Martinez Corrêa (Zé Celso) said, "We are feeling this now. It is not a vestige. Tropicália is a feeling that is extremely current in Brazil, now that Brazil is trying to find its own way amid globalization." What happened to the leading intellectuals and artists behind the movement and what modifications the movement brought to MPB and as a consequence to Brazilian culture in general is the legacy of Tropicália.

Casualties and

The intellectual father of Tropicália, writer, musician, and plastic artist Rogério Duarte, a Baiano from Ubaíra, was detained and tortured by the military regime. The torture proved too strong a shock for Duarte. Following detention, he was moved from a cell in the regime's headquarters to a cubicle in the Hospital Pinel—a hospital for the insane. He became withdrawn and self-destructive. His later years were spent in seclusion at the Buddhist monastery of Santa Teresa in the interior of Bahia. Today, he lives in Brasília. Duarte has recently come out of the shadows to release a translation of part of the epic Mahabharata—the Hindu conception of heaven and hell.

Rita Lee and Gal Costa, both in their fifties, are still actively performing and recording. Costa, the bona fide muse of Tropicália, has become Brazil's leading female vocalist. Arnaldo Baptista from the group Os Mutantes, who also underwent "psychiatric treatment," threw himself from the third floor of a psychiatric ward in 1981. Tom Zé has all but disappeared from media attention. Notwithstanding, his work from the early seventies, during the formidable right wing repression, was impressive. The cover art on his LP Todos os Olhos (All the Eyes) smirks at the censors with what appears to be a giant yellow eye with a sparkling iris, but is in actuality an asshole set with a marble, photographed in soft focus.

Poet and lyricist Torquato Neto, who in partnership with Gil wrote the hymn of Tropicália, "Geléia Geral," and who passed on the latest news about the universal pop underground in a column he wrote for the newspaper Última Hora during the years marked by the torture and political persecution, closed all the windows of his apartment in Rio de Janeiro on November 10, 1972, and turned on the gas. He was twenty-eight years old and had also come from a period of internment in the psychiatric hospital. Neto left behind an amount of work small in quantity, but vast in creative quality. The death of Torquato Neto sent a wave of shock through the artistic community.

In 1973, Waly Salomão organized and published material written by Torquato Neto in Os Últimos Dias de Paupéria—a wordplay on The Last Days of Pompeii. In 1982, Salomão and Ana Maria Duarte reissued the work revised and enlarged. The publishing house José Olympio is now planning to release the third edition of Neto's works, still untitled, which will include pieces never published, an exchange of letters between Neto and Hélio Oiticica, and letters that were left out of the previous editions. Torquato Lives!

Gilberto Gil's extraordinary new release of Quanta is his most compelling work to date. Dedicated to the memory of musician Chico Science, Quanta is an elaborate project with fertile lyrics, unforgettable music, and luscious packaging. The liner notes open with a letter from Brazil's most famous physicist, César Lattes and present a glossary of words, expressions, celebrities, divinities, and historical facts cited in Gil's lyrics. These entries are set among words from the universe of quantum physics, the discipline from which Gil derived the CD's title. The Brazilian release features the track "Objeto Ainda Menos Identificado" (Object Even Less Identified) and a guest appearance by Rogério Duarte, co-author of the 1969 composition "Objeto Semi-Identificado" (Semi-identified Object), one of Gil's most radical poetic-musical experiments.

If Tropicalismo was truly important in the history of Brazilian music and culture, and not just a mouse that roared, then Caetano's Verdade Tropical (Truly Tropical) will be a book of consequence and provoke debate for its polemic content. In his book, Veloso remembers, analyzes, profiles, relates, and reflects on the past of Brazilian popular music to recover his version of a country that was living under the military dictatorship. One of the book's merits is the depth in which Caetano explores the reasons why the events happened the way they did.

Besides explaining that the violence and torture committed by the military regime were corrupt and irreverent aspects of Brazil's profile, Verdade Tropical reveals some surprising things about sex, drugs, rock `n roll, and the main authors of the late 1960s cultural earthquake. Reading Verdade Tropical (524 pages, Companhia das Letras) is an obligatory exercise for those who have fundamental questions about what happened in Brazil. The book is slated to be translated in English by Arto Lindsay and Robert Myers for publication in the United States by Alfred Knopf.

Wherever one wishes to set the boundaries of the movement, Tropicália was a turning point, a fundamental moment in the development of Brazilian culture. Although many feel that today's artistic production has been coopted and is tied to marketing trends, Brazilian pop music would not have progressed as it has, were it not for Tropicalismo. The commotion caused by the Bahian group made an indelible imprint on the artistic scene. Tropicalismo, still germinating seeds after thirty years, remains a source of inspiration. It was a moment of courage.

É Proibido

Caetano Veloso

A mãe da virgem diz que não
E o anúncio da televisão
Estava escrito no portão
E o maestro ergueu o dedo
E além da porta há o porteiro, sim
E eu digo não
E eu digo não ao não
E eu digo é é proibido proibir

É proibido proibir
É proibido proibir
É proibido proibir
É proibido proibir

Me dê um beijo, meu amor
Eles estão nos esperando
Os automóveis ardem em chamas
Derrubar as prateleiras
As estantes, as estátuas
As vidraças, louças, livros, sim
E eu digo sim
E eu digo não
E eu digo é proibido proibir

É proibido proibir
É proibido proibir
É proibido proibir
É proibido proibir

"Cahi no areal na hora adversa
Que Deus concede aos seus
Para o intervallo em que esteja a alma immersa
Em sonhos que são Deus

Que importa o areal e a morte e a desventura
Se com Deus me guardei?
O que eu me sonhei que eterno dura,
Esse que regressarei."

It's Forbidden
to Forbid

The virgin's mother says no
And the add on television
Was written on the gate
And the conductor raised his finger
And beside the door, there is a doorman, yes
And I say no
And I say no to no
And I say it's forbidden to forbid

It's forbidden to forbid
It's forbidden to forbid
It's forbidden to forbid
It's forbidden to forbid

Give me a kiss, my love
They are waiting for us
The cars are burning in flames
Let's demolish the shelves
The bookcases, the statues
The windows, the china, the books, yes
And I say yes
And I say no
And I say it's forbidden to forbid

It's forbidden to forbid
It's forbidden to forbid
It's forbidden to forbid
It's forbidden to forbid

"I fell down on the sand at the adverse hour
That God concedes to His
To have the intermission in which the soul is immersed
In dreams of God
Who cares about the sand and death and misfortune
If I kept myself with God
What I dreamed lasts eternally
That I will return"

Os Mutantes created what was considered a very daring arrangement at that time for "É Proibido Proibir" that included guitar distortion and electronic effects. In the studio, Caetano read extracts in archaic Portuguese from the book Mensagem by Fernando Pessoa (a Portuguese poet from the beginning of the century) as a counterpoint to the refrain. The selection from the Portuguese writer appears above in italics.

Panis et Circensis

Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso

Eu quis cantar
Minha canção iluminada de sol
Soltei os panos sobre os mastros no ar
Soltei os tigres e os leões nos quintais
Mas as pessoas da sala de jantar
São preocupadas em nascer e morrer
Mandei fazer de puro aço luminoso um punhal
Para matar o meu amor e matei
Às sete horas na avenida central
Mas as pessoas da sala de jantar
São preocupadas em nascer e morrer
Mandei plantar folhas de sonho no jardim do solar
As folhas sabem procurar pelo sol
E as raízes procurar, procurar
Mas as pessoas na sala de jantar
Essas pessoas na sala de jantar
São as pessoas da sala de jantar
Mas as pessoas na sala de jantar
São preocupadas em nascer e morrer
Essas pessoas na sala de jantar
Essas pessoas na sala de jantar
Essas pessoas na sala de jantar
Essas pessoas…

Bread and Diversion

I wanted to sing
My song illuminated by the sun
I released the sails on the mast in the air
I released the lions and tigers in the backyards
But people in the dining room
Are worried about birth and death
I had a dagger made of pure, luminous steel
To kill my love, and I killed it
At seven o'clock on Central Avenue
But people in the dining room
Are worried about birth and death
I planted leaves of dreams in the garden of my manor
The leaves know how to look for the sun
And the roots look for, look for
But people in the dining room
Those people in the dining room
Are the people in the dining room
But people in the dining room
Are worried about birth and death
Those people in the dining room
Those people in the dining room
Those people . . .

Web sites:





As the cumulative discographies of artists aligned with Tropicália are vast, I have supplied only selected favorites from my library. In addition, because of the movement's abrupt life span, this discography reflects more a continuation of the artist's individual work.

Gal Costa

Acústico BMG/RCA 1997

Mina D'água do Meu Canto BMG/RCA 1995

O Sorriso do Gato de Alice BMG/RCA 1993

Gal RCA/BMG 1992

Plural RCA/BMG 1990

Gal Costa Sigla 1988

Aquarela do Brasil Philips 1988

A Arte de Gal Costa Philips 1988

Personalidade PolyGram 1987

Lua de Mel com o Diabo RCA/BMG 1987

Fantasia Philips 1981

Gal Tropical Philips 1979

Gal Canta Caymmi Philips 1976


Quanta Mesa/Bluemoon 1997

Acoustic AtlanticJazz 1994

Parabolic Tropical Storm 1991 

O Eterno Deus Mu Dança Tropical Storm 1989

Soy Loco Por Ti America BrazilOid 1988

Quilombo WEA 1984

(Sound Track)

Extra Tropical Storm 1983

Relace Tropical Storm 1979

Refavela Philips 1977

Gil/Jorge Verve 1975

Refazenda Philips 1975

Louvação Philips 1967

Nara Leão

Debaixo dos Caracóis

dos Seus Cabelos Mercury 1978

Rita Lee

Rita Lee EMI-Odeon 1980

Os Mutantes

Mutantes Polydor 1968


Tropicália 30 Anos Natasha 1997

(see below)


Livro PolyGram 1997

Tieta do Agreste Natasha 1996 (Sound Track)

Circuladô Elektra Nonesuch 1991

Estrangeiro PolyGram 1989

Caetano PolyGram 1987

Caetano Veloso Nonesuch Digital 1986

Cinema Transcendental Philips 1979

Jóia Philips 1975

Araçá Azul Philips 1972

Caetano Veloso Philips 1968

Caetano Veloso,
Gilberto Gil

Tropicália 2 Elektra Nonesuch 1993

Caetano, Gil,
Gal Costa,
Maria Bethânia

Doces Bárbaros Philips 1976

(includes Gil's "Chuckberry Fields Forever")

Caetano Veloso,
Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé,
Gal Costa, Rita Lee,
Os Mutantes, Nara Leão

Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis Philips 1968

Tom Zé

The Hips of Tradition Luaka Bop 1992

The Best of Tom Zé Luaka Bop 1990

Selected Bibliography

Fonseca, Heber. CAETANO—Esse cara.

Rio de Janeiro: Editora Revan, 1993

McGowan, Chris, and Ricardo Pessanha. The Brazilian Sound.

New York: Billbord Books, 1991

Perrone, Charles A. Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Song: MPB 1965-1985.

Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989

Perrone, Charles A. Letras e Letras da MPB

Rio de Janeiro: Elo Editora e Distribuidora Ltda, 1988 

Veloso, Caetano. Verdade Tropical

São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1997

Tropicália 30 Years
Natasha Records 1997
(track by track)


The movement's manifesto written by Caetano Veloso; performed by Gil, Caetano and Tom Zé. "Tropicália" appears on the historic LP Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis.

"Divino Maravilhoso" (Marvelous Divine)

Written by Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso; performed by Gal Costa.

"Alegria, Alegria" (Joy, Joy)

Written by Caetano; performed by Daniela Mercury.

"Domingo no Parque" (Sunday at the Park)

Written by Gilberto Gil; performed by Margareth Menezes.


Written by Caetano Veloso and Gil; performed by Ilê Ayê.

"Batmacumba" appears on the historic LP Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis.

"Os Mais Doces Bárbaros" (Sweetest Barbarians)

Written by Caetano Veloso; performed by Carlinhos Brown.

"Soy Loco Por Ti America" (I'm Crazy for you America)

Written by Gil and Capinam; performed by Ara Ketu

"Não Identificado" (Unidentified)

Written by Caetano Veloso; performed by Ivete Sangalo and Banda Eva.

"Procissão" (Procession)

Written by Gil; performed by Didá Banda Feminina.

"Superbacana" (Supercool)

Written by Caetano Veloso; performed by Ásia de Águia.

"Geléia Geral" (General Jam)

Written by Gilberto Gil and Torquato Neto; performed by Banda Cheiro de Amor.

"Geléia Geral" appears on the historic LP Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis.

"Atrás do Trio Elétrico" (Behind the Electric Trio)

Written by Caetano Veloso; performed by Moraes Moreira.

"Hino ao Senhor do Bonfim" (Hymn for Jesus Christ)

Written by João Antônio Wanderley; performed by Lazzo e Virgínia Rodrigues.

"Hino ao Senhor do Bonfim" appears on the historic LP Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis.

1. Geléia Geral literally translates as general jam, but figuratively it means everything combined.

2. Physicist César Lattes is also mentioned in Gil's song "Ciência e Arte" (Science and Art) on the Quanta CD. Lattes is probably still the most famous Brazilian physicist and certainly at one time a brilliant scientist, but he also is something of an embarrassment to the younger generation of Brazilian physicists. Lattes made his great discovery (of the pion) in 1947 at the age of twenty-three. Unfortunately, one problem with making a great discovery very young is that there is pressure to try to match or exceed this early work. In the early 1950s Cesare Mansuetto Giulio Lattes announced that he had found a mistake in Einstein's theory of special relativity and added fuel to the fire by making childish and derogatory remarks about Albert Einstein (still alive at the time). The actual remark was something like, "Einstein aimed high, but he couldn't piss straight." Moreover, it was César Lattes who made the elementary mistake, and from that time forward Lattes became more isolated from mainstream physics as well as becoming more of a social recluse. On Quanta, César Lattes tells Gil that he doesn't believe in the existence of quarks even though the evidence for quarks became overwhelming about 20 years ago. Those of you who have read Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman might remember César Lattes as the Director of Physical Research in Rio who greeted Feynman at the airport by asking if he had a woman to sleep with that night and who told Feynman to teach when it was convenient for him and ignore what the students want.

* This information about Lattes comes secondhand from an astrophysicist friend. Thanks, Wayne.

Bruce Gilman, music editor for Brazzil, received his Masters degree in music from California Institute of the Arts. He leads the Brazilian jazz ensemble Axé and plays cuíca for escola de samba MILA. You can reach him through his E-mail: cuica@interworld.net


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