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Hearing the Book

Hearing
        the Book

CDs or Books
by Keyword, Title or Author
By Brazzil Magazine

As the year 2000 approaches, Caetano Veloso appears more and more likely to be the
single giant among Brazilian artists to have been a truly forward-looking influence on the
music of our time. To grasp this, one would have to look back over a thirty year period
when artists like Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque, and Veloso himself were
each making unique contributions and laying the foundation for the future of Brazilian
popular music (MPB). Wholly overcoming the fears of rejection and commercial inviability
that keep composers from following their experimental impulses, Veloso dared to propose
new concepts of song. He talked about seeing music with free eyes, as sound set free, and
about composition as a continual process of expansion, interaction, and transformation.
Comparing the process of composition to cannibalism, he searched for whatever vehicle
would respond best to the realization of his ideas—be it reggae, concrete poetry,
rap, twelve-tone technique or the juxtaposition of all of these.

Veloso has always advocated and continues to demonstrate unexplored, but essential
concepts. In the book Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Song: MPB, 1965-1985,
Charles A. Perrone notes that when traditional and nationalist sounds were highly prized,
Caetano emphasized international trends. When musical militancy and activism were in
vogue, he explored romantic and spiritual spheres. In the face of sentimentalism, Caetano
refocused on the development of the mass media and consumerism. And when commercial
viability came into question, Caetano’s experimentalism and individualism surfaced.

Literary and musical references are interwoven in his music, and there is an illusive
sense of reality, one that doesn’t neatly discriminate between fact and fancy. His is an
art of conflict with both enough sharp-edged weight to etch a mood and enough light to let
the emotions soar. But far from being intellectual exercises, Caetano’s music is bursting
with suggestive qualities that have stimulated listeners’ imaginations from the time of
his earliest recordings. His image has changed over time from a rebellious tropicalista
and counterculture guru, to a cultivated, suave media persona; but Veloso has remained a
realist, constantly on the move, always on the lookout for fresh challenges. That this
doctrine has been responsible not only for the quality of Veloso’s music itself but also
fundamental to current directions in music can be seen in the recent "discovery"
of Tropicália in Europe and the United States (see cover story in Brazzil December
1997) and in the appearance of the verb "caetanear" (to Caetano-ize).

Performances aside, in just the past five years Caetano has composed the sound tracks
for the films Tieta do Agreste, the Cacá Diegues remake of Black Orpheus,
and themes for the Italian influenced film O Quatrilho. He recorded and released
two CD’s of Latin American music, Fina Estampa and Fina Estampa ao Vivo, and
is currently planning the production of João Gilberto’s next CD. In addition, he
published Verdade Tropical (Tropical Truth), a book that analyzes and reflects upon
the creation and the consequences of the Tropicalista movement and spawned the CD’s Livro
and Prenda Minha. Verdade Tropical, Livro, and Prenda Minha form
a curious, but complementary whole.

In Verdade Tropical, published by Companhia das Letras in 1997, Caetano speaks
about his influences and preferences in literature and art as well as his relationship
with drugs, sex, rock `n’ roll, and Cinema Novo. Not an autobiography, Verdade Tropical
is a narrative, an interpretation, and an application of critical theory to the
cultural vision and creative surge that grew in the artistic and intellectual communities
of Bahia in the late 1960’s. Tropicalismo generated new philosophies in music, dance,
theater, and the plastic arts. It also scared the hell out of the Brazilian government.
The book analyzes the political left, the military dictatorship, its methods of violence
and torture, Gil and Caetano’s imprisonment in 1968, and their exile in London. Verdade
Tropical is the history and commemoration of a cultural movement that was heard
despite the oppressive gag of governmental censors.

In principle, the book Verdade Tropical and the CD Livro should have been
released at the same time, as the CD is full of citations and homages as is the book. But
after Caetano’s initial enthusiasm for writing Verdade Tropical, he found that the
revisions, editing, completion, and release had left him little time to record. By the
time of publication, he was tired of words, was experiencing writer’s block, and suffering
a kind of postpartum depression. Caetano’s fatigue in completing the book is expressed in
the lyrics to the second tune on the CD, "Livros" (Books). Additionally, the
small ensemble he used for the Fina Estampa tour as well as his work on the sound
track for Tieta do Agreste, which utilized both orchestra and the Bahian percussion
group Didá Banda Feminina, exacerbated his hunger for working with a larger group of
musicians and for the music played on the streets of Bahia. Consequently, although he had
only a vague idea of what his approach would be for the new disc, his interest in the
initial stages was essentially focused on texture and tonal colorings rather than lyrics.

Caetano, contrary to his approach on past projects, composed the music for Livro first,
enlisted Jaques Morelenbaum to create the arrangements, recruited a legion of
percussionists, and only afterward wrote the lyrics—many of them in the studio at the
time of recording. Of the fourteen compositions, only "Um Tom" (A Tone) and
"Os Passistas" (Carnaval Dancers) had complete lyrics when Caetano entered the
studio. Nevertheless, the combining of Morelenbaum’s orchestral sophistication with the
street percussion of Bahia evolved into one of Caetano’s best discs and tours to date.

But Livro is not a companion CD that functions as an interactive guide,
orienting listeners aurally to the subject matter treated on a particular page of the
book. Where Verdade Tropical concentrates on justifying the theories of the
Tropicalismo movement, the disc expands the concept of paying homage and remembering
influences. From Chico Science and Lulu Santos, to Antônio de Castro Alves, Livro is
full of citations, some subtle, others more direct. For example, the woodwind arrangement
for Ari Barroso’s "Na Baixa do Sapateiro" by Luiz Brasil "suggests"
the syncopated guitar phrasing of João Gilberto, who for Caetano is the beginning and the
end of modern Brazilian music. And the tune "Um Tom" is dedicated to both Tom
Jobim and Caetano’s youngest son, Tom, who was born at the time Verdade Tropical was
completed. "Você É Minha" (You Are Mine) was written for Caetano’s wife, Paula
Lavigne, and bears a similarity to another of Caetano’s dedicatory tunes "Você É
Linda" from 1983. The symbolically named "Pra Ninguém" (For No One) is an
homage to Chico Buarque and a direct reference to Chico’s tune "Paratodos" (For
Everybody), in which Chico pays homage to everyone from Jackson do Pandeiro to Hermeto
Pascoal.

Just as Caetano’s life revolves around the axis of Bahia and Rio, the 14 tracks on Livro
are a mix of samba and the music of Bahia. The listener discovers the integration of
the two immediately; there is an almost limitless degree of overlapping. "Onde o Rio
é Mais Baiano" (Where Rio is More Bahian) is an homage to the escola de samba Mangueira
that paid tribute to the Doces Bárbaros (Sweet Barbarians—Gal Costa, Caetano, Gil,
and Maria Bethânia) a few years ago. The first theme is played in a traditional samba
rhythm, the second in samba-reggae. Caetano’s oldest son, Moreno, contributed a samba with
the minimalist lyric, "How Beautiful Could a Being Be." The tune’s single
phrase, repeated over percussion, distorted guitar, and choir induces a flavor suggestive
of Bahian candomblé and is at the same time reminiscent of arrangements by tropicalista
Rogério Duprat.

"Minha Voz, Minha Vida" (My Voice, My Life), a tune Caetano originally
composed for Gal, and now one of the most beautiful tunes Caetano has ever recorded
himself, is performed as a bolero with Bahian drums submitting to a sensuous swirl of
strings. It has the simplicity and dancing radiance that has become a fixture in much of
his music. The track that holds the least interest for me is "Não Enche" (Piss
Off). There isn’t enough angst. Caetano’s emotionally detached, almost buoyant delivery is
not aligned with the unremittingly harsh lyrical content:

Harpy, spider,
Prowess for preying, ensnaring, snaring
You slut, you piranha
My energy keeps you afloat up there,
Get out! Get lost,
Get out of my blood, you bloodsucker,
that’s all you know,
Let me enjoy, let me enjoy
Let me enjoy, let me enjoy.

In "Manhatã" Caetano exploits a familiar enunciation from the Portuguese
language and the refined harmonic language and tonal colorings of the Gil Evans/Miles
Davis collaborations. He rhymes Manhatã with manhã (morning) as well as other
words that end with the ã ("eng") sound. The idea stemmed from a nineteenth
century poem that incorporated a similar rhyme scheme with sounds from the Tupi language
written by the Brazilian romantic poet from the Northeastern state of Maranhão,
Sousândrade. In this enigmatic mix of Gil Evans, Sousândrade, and Lulu Santos (to whom
the tune is dedicated); Caetano’s voice hovers above subtle Bahian percussion as he
alludes to Manhattan as Manhatã. Some passages simply seem to float in mid-air as he
sketches a rare vision of New York.

The best track on the disc is "Doideca" whose title refers to the Portuguese
word doido meaning insane or mad and to the musical term dodecaphony, the technique
of composition developed by Schoenberg. The musical term evolved from the Greek words
dodeca meaning twelve, and phone meaning sound. In this homage to Chico Science, the
piccolo introduces a repeated then inverted twelve-tone row over an atmospheric
drum `n’ bass foundation performed by a battery of Bahian percussionists rather than by
synthesizers. Quoting himself, Caetano sings a phrase from his 1970 "London,
London." The major reference here is to Brazilian composer Arrigo Barnabé, best
known for his film scores, his ensembles of dissimilar instrumentation (rock band with
string quartet and percussion), his experimentation with atonal and twelve-tone
composition, and for his reputation for always being on the threshold between popular and
contemporary music.

"O Navio Negreiro" (The Slave Ship) is the other great track on the disc. It
is a setting of the magnificent epic poem by Antônio de Castro Alves, the great Brazilian
nineteenth century poet whose themes opposing black slavery clashed with public opinion.
Castro Alves died at the age of twenty-four from tuberculosis, but left behind works at
the highest level of poetic art. On Livro, "O Navio Negreiro" is
transformed into a rap performed alternately by Caetano and Bethânia aloft a foundation
of percussion commanded by Carlinhos Brown while a choir echoes the strophe:

What ship is this that just arrived?
It’s the ship bringing slaves from Angola.

A fiercely emotional performance, the music is informed by a great deal of integrity,
fueled by passion, and marked by a high degree of empathy among the participants.

Livro was released in Brazil in 1997, in Europe in 1998, and is scheduled for
release in the United States on June 1, 1999, roughly one month prior to the arrival of
Caetano’s Livro Vivo tour. Curiously, Prenda Minha, a live recording
extracted from the September 1998 shows of Livro Vivo in Rio, arrived in our stores
first. Prenda Minha (My Sweetheart) is essentially the B side of Livro. The
repertoire, based on its predecessor, pays homage to the great names of popular Brazilian
music and includes several of Caetano’s encore pieces. And like its predecessor, Prenda
Minha incorporates Bahian percussionists and the orchestral palette of Jaques
Morelenbaum. But there are also two pieces for just voice and guitar, "Sozinho"
and Chico Buarque’s "Carolina."

Jorge Benjor’s "Jorge de Capadócia" is here (prefaced by allusions to
Fernanda Abreu, the rappers Racionais MC’s, and Miles Davis) as is the tune
"Meditação" by Tom Jobim. There is a tip of the hat to Djavan with "Linha
do Equador," the funk tune he co-wrote with Caetano in 1992, and a salute to Carnaval
with "Boa Vida" and "Atrás da Verde-e-Rosa Só Não Vai Quem Já
Morreu" (Only Those Who Have Died Won’t Join Mangueira’s Parade), which contains
embedded quotes from "Festa do Interior." Gilberto Gil is acknowledged with
"Drão" from 1981 and one of his earliest compositions, "Bem Devagar"
from 1962. Caetano, however, reserved an even more elegant homage for his close friend and
Tropicália companion with his reading of a passage from Verdade Tropical in which
he reveals the way Dona Canô, Caetano’s mother, once referred to Gil.

With the exception of "Onde o Rio É Mais Baiano" and "Não Enche,"
Caetano has chosen tunes for this CD that were not included on the Livro CD. The
outstanding tracks are the new arrangements Morelenbaum created for the Caetano classics
"Eclipse Oculto" (1983) and "Odara" (1977), which cleverly concludes
with a musical quote from "Doideca." Morelenbaum’s salsa-like score for
"Mel" is vibrant and accessible. The tune, originally recorded by Bethânia in
1979, is performed here by Caetano in both Spanish and Portuguese and demonstrates the
remarkable stylistic synthesis that Caetano is capable of achieving.

Surely the most interesting track is "Prenda Minha" itself, a pearl of Gaúcho
folklore by an anonymous composer. Almost a hymn of Rio Grande do Sul, the tune has been
memorized by school children throughout Brazil, and Caetano delivers it with the
stylistically appropriate Gaúcho accent. Morelenbaum again draws from the Gil
Evans/Miles Davis color wheel as he had for "Manhatã." But here it is with an
ironic wink, as the tune was recorded in 1962 (though not released until 1964) by Miles
for the controversial Quiet Nights album. The liner notes on the Columbia recording
attribute Miles and Evans as the tune’s composers.

It is very difficult to verbalize about music. It feels pointless at times, like making
a statue of a famous painting. The important thing is what each listener brings to and
personally gets from the music. When asked to write an article about Caetano, I was
hopelessly paralyzed. I had no words to describe fully my respect for the man. It seemed
useless to add anything more about the contributions Caetano has made to MPB, as he is
probably the most influential composer alive in terms of impact on the present musical
generation.

According to one theory of the arts, the function of a great artist is that of a
teacher, one whose work is to be contemplated and one who communicates ideas of
intellectual and social significance. It is exactly in this sense that Caetano
Veloso—poet, author, journalist, philosopher, producer, translator, actor, film
maker, director, social activist, singer, and composer—has been teaching for over
three decades that music, literature, and cinema are passports that remove our blindfolds
to new frontiers. His capacity to go in all kinds of directions and always get to the
nucleus of Brazil in an intellectually and emotionally satisfying manner is unparalleled.

The vision of Brazil expressed in Caetano’s music constitutes a key to an understanding
and an interpretation of Brazil and her people. Be it in a negative or positive form, or
perhaps submerged in a feeling of ambivalence, Brazil’s inner reality has always held a
position in Caetano’s music. His relationship to Brazil is not merely that of a
composer/singer toward his country, and it isn’t just a socio-political reaction on the
part of a poet/author. Caetano lives in Brazil in its totality, as Noel Rosa, and Ari
Barroso had before him, and he dramatizes his own personal feelings toward his country in
terms of his musical creation. Throughout his work, the consciousness of Brazil has been a
motivating force in his creative process.

What Caetano learned originally from João Gilberto and Oswald de Andrade he later
expanded into an individual talent that knew the virtues of assertive expression as well
as the beauties of blurring the boundaries between disciplines. Caetano Veloso, a man who
has seen not only the more sophisticated side of life but also its hardships, has
experienced the academic as well as the mind-broadening lessons not found in books and
institutions. A prolific composer whose works number in the hundreds, Veloso has lived to
see his music both lauded and vilified. Significantly marking the history of Brazilian
music, he has always been and today remains identifiably, Caetano.

The December, 1997 cover story in Brazzil magazine, "Thirty Years of
Tropicalismo/Times of Gall," can be found on the Web at: https://www.brazzil.com/dec97.htm 

Caetano’s Web site is: http://www.caetanoveloso.com.br
 

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


Caetano Veloso’s
summer tour with
Livro Vivo:

June 27 Beacon Theatre New York, New York
June 29 Vogue Theatre Vancouver, Canada
July 1 Masonic Hall San Francisco, California
July 3, 4 Ford Auditorium Los Angeles, California
July 6 Bass Concert Hall Austin, Texas
July 8 Salle Wilfrid Peletier de la Place des Arts Montreal, Canada
July 10 Lowell Auditorium Boston, Massachusetts
July 12 Northrup Auditorium Minneapolis, Minnesota
July 13 Ravinia Festival Chicago, Illinois
July 15 Warner Theatre Washington, DC
July 17 Gleason Theatre Miami, Florida

THE LYRICS

Livros
Caetano Veloso

Tropeçavas nos astros desastrada
Quase não tínhamos livros em casa
E a cidade não tinha livraria
Mas os livros que em nossa vida entraram
São como a radiação de um corpo negro
Apontando pra a expansão do Universo
Porque a frase, o conceito, o enredo, o verso
(E, sem dúvida, sobretudo o verso)
É o que pode lançar mundos no mundo.

Tropeçavas nos astros desastrada
Sem saber que a ventura e a desventura
Dessa estrada que vai do nada ao nada
São livros e o luar contra a cultura.

Os livros são objetos transcendentes
Mas podemos amá-los do amor táctil
Que votamos aos maços de cigarro
Domá-los, cultivá-los em aquários,
Em estantes, gaiolas, em fogueiras
Ou lançá-los pra fora das janelas
(Talvez isso nos livre de lançarmo-nos)
Ou—o que é muito pior—por odiarmo-los
Podemos simplesmente escrever um:

Encher de vãs palavras muitas páginas
E de mais confusão as prateleiras.
Tropeçavas nos astros desastrada
Mas pra mim foste a estrela entre as estrelas.

Books

You tripped clumsily over the stars
We had almost no books at home
And the city had no bookstore
But the books that entered our lives
Are like the gleam of a black body
Pointing to the expansion of the Universe
Because the phrase, the concept, the plot, the verse
(And, verily, above all, the verse)
Is what can throw worlds to the world.

You tripped clumsily over the stars
Not knowing how the luck and misfortune
Of the road goes from nothingness to nothingness
Are books and the moonlight contrary culture?

Books are transcendental things
But we can love them with our hands
The way we touch a pack of cigarettes
Tame them, nurture them in fish bowls,
Shelves, cages, and bonfires
Or fling them out the window
(And that may keep us from jumping out)
Or—and what’s much worse—to hate them
We could simply write one more:

Fill whole pages with vain words
Add confusion to the bookcases.
You tripped clumsily over the stars
But to me you were the star among the stars.

 

Manhatã para Lulu Santos
Caetano Veloso

Uma canoa canoa
Varando a manhã de norte a sul
Deusa da lenda na proa
Levanta uma tocha na mão
Todos os homens do mundo
Voltaram seus olhos naquela direção
Sente-se o gosto do vento
Cantando nos vidros o
nome doce da cunhã:

Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan

Um remoinho de dinheiro
Varre o mundo inteiro, um leve leviatã
E aqui dançam guerras no meio
Da paz das moradas de amor

Ah! Pra onde vai, quando for,
Essa imensa alegria, toda essa exaltação
Ah! Solidão, multidão
Que menina bonita mordendo
a polpa da maçã:

Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan

Manhattan for Lulu Santos

A canoe, canoe
Cuts through the morning from north to south
Goddess of the legend on the prow
Lifting a torch in her hand
All of mankind
Turns its eyes in that direction
One tastes the wind
Singing in the windows the sweet
name of the Indian girl

Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan

A whirlwind of money
Sweeps the whole world, an overwhelming light
And here wars dance amid
Love’s peaceful dwellings.

Ah! Where is it going, when it goes,
This immense joy, such exaltation
Ah! Solitude, multitude,
That beautiful girl biting
the apple:

Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan

 

O Navio Negreiro (excerto)
Antônio de Castro Alves

Stamos em pleno mar
(. . . )
Era um sonho dantesco . . . o tombadilho,
Que das luzernas avermelha o brilho,
Em sangue a se banhar.
Tinir de ferros . . . estalar do açoite . . .
Legiões de homens negros como a noite,
Horrendos a dançar . . .

Negras mulheres, suspendendo às tetas
Magras crianças, cujas bocas pretas
Rega o sangue das mães:
Outras, moças . . . mas nuas, espantadas,
No turbilhão de espectros arrastadas,
Em ânsia e mágoa vãs.

E ri-se a orquestra, irônica, estridente . . .
E da ronda fantástica a serpente
Faz doudas espirais . . .
Se o velho arqueja . . . se no chão resvala,
Ouvem-se gritos . . . o chicote estala.
E voam mais e mais . . .

Presa dos elos de uma só cadeia,
A multidão faminta cambaleia
E chora e dança ali!
Um de raiva delira, outro enlouquece . . .
Outro, que de martírios embrutece,
Cantando, geme e ri!

No entanto o capitão manda a manobra
E após, fitando o céu que se desdobra
Tão puro sobre o mar,
Diz do fumo entre os densos nevoeiros:
"Vibrai rijo o chicote, marinheiros!
Fazei-os mais dançar! . . ."

E ri-se a orquestra irônica, estridente . . .
E da ronda fantástica
a serpente
Faz doudas espirais!
Qual num sonho dantesco as sombras
voam . . .
Gritos, ais, maldições, preces ressoam!
E ri-se Satanaz! . . .

Senhor Deus dos desgraçados!
Dizei-me vós, Senhor Deus!
Se é loucura . . . se é verdade
Tanto horror perante os céus . . .
Ó mar, por que não apagas
Co’a esponja de tuas vagas
De teu manto este borrão? . . .
Astros! noite! tempestades!
Rolai das imensidades!
Varrei os mares, tufão! . . .

Quem são estes desgraçados
Que não encontram em vós
Mais que o rir calmo da turba
Que excita a fúria do algoz?
Quem são? . . . Se a estrela se cala,
Se a vaga à pressa resvala
Como um cúmplice fugaz,
Perante a noite confusa . . .
Dize-o tu, severa musa,
Musa libérrima, audaz!

São os filhos do deserto
Onde a terra esposa a luz.
Onde voa em campo aberto
A tribo dos homens nus . . .
São os guerreiros ousados,
Que com os tigres mosqueados
Combatem na solidão . . .
Homens simples, fortes, bravos . . .
Hoje míseros escravos
Sem ar, sem luz, sem razão . . .

São mulheres desgraçadas
Como Agar o foi também,
Que sedentas, alquebradas,
De longe . . . bem longe vêm . . .
Trazendo com tíbios passos
Filhos e algemas nos braços,
N’alma—lágrimas e fel.
Como Agar sofrendo tanto
Que nem o leite do pranto
Têm que dar para Ismael . . .

Lá nas areias infindas,
Das palmeiras no país,
Nasceram—crianças lindas,
Viveram—moças gentis . . .
Passa um dia a caravana
Quando a virgem na cabana
Cisma das noites nos véus . . .
. . . Adeus! ó choça do monte! . . .
. . . Adeus! palmeiras da fonte! . . . .
. . Adeus! amores . . . adeus! . . .

( . . . )

Senhor Deus dos desgraçados!
Dizei-me vós, Senhor Deus!
Se eu deliro . . . ou se é verdade
Tanto horror perante os céus . . .
Ó mar, por que não apagas
Co’a esponja de tuas vagas
De teu manto este borrão? . . .
Astros! noite! tempestades!
Rolai das imensidades!
Varrei os mares, tufão! . . .

E existe um povo que a bandeira empresta
P’ra cobrir tanta infâmia e cobardia! . . .
E deixa-a transformar-se nessa festa
Em manto impuro de bacante fria! . . .
Meu Deus! meu Deus! mas que bandeira é esta,
Que impudente na gávea tripudia?! . . .
Silêncio! . . . Musa! chora, chora tanto
Que o pavilhão se lave no seu pranto . . .

Auriverde pendão de minha terra,
Que a brisa do Brasil beija e balança,
Estandarte que a luz do sol encerra,
E as promessas divinas da esperança . . .
Tu, que da liberdade após a guerra,
Foste hasteado dos heróis na lança,
Antes te houvessem roto na batalha,
Que servires a um povo de mortalha! . . .

Fatalidade atroz que a mente esmaga!
Extingue nesta hora o brigue imundo
O trilho que Colombo abriu na vaga,
Como um íris no pélago profundo! . . . . . .
Mas é infâmia demais . . .
Da etérea plaga
Levantai-vos, heróis do Novo Mundo . . .
Andrada! arranca este pendão dos ares!
Colombo! fecha a porta de teus mares!

The Slave Ship (excerpt)

We’re on the high seas
( . . . )
It was a Dantean dream . . . the quarter-deck,
Reddens the skylights’ gleam,
Bathed in blood.
The chink of irons . . . the whip cracking . . .
Legions of men, dark as the night,
Perform a hellish dance.

Black women, suckling at their breasts
Squalid children, whose mouths, so dark
Are filled with mother’s blood:
Others, young . . . but naked, and aghast
Are dragged among the maelstrom of specters
In vain grief and anguish.

And the orchestra laughs, ironic, strident . . .
And out of the phantasmal whirl comes a serpent
Spiraling madly . . .
If the old man wheezes . . . if he does fall down
Screams are heard . . . the whip cracks down,
And they fly and fly . . .

Tied to the links of a single chain,
The famished horde staggers, wails
Weeping and dancing!
One raves delirious, another has lost his mind . . .
Another, with torments numb
Sings, laughs, and sighs!

And yet the captain orders the shady procedure
And then, staring at the sky unfolding
So pure over the sea,
He says, eying the smoke amid the thick clouds:
"Keep that whip cracking, seamen!
Make them dance on! . . ."

And the ironic orchestra laughs, strident . . .
And out of the phantasmal whirl comes
a serpent
Spiraling madly . . .
As in a Dantean dream the shadows
dart . . .
Screams, sighs, curses, prayers ring out!
The Devil laughs out loud! . . .

Dear God of the unfortunate!
Tell me, Dear Lord!
If it be madness . . . if it be truth
Such horror before heaven . . .
Oh, Sea, why do you not erase
with your waves
this blot from your cloak? . . .
Stars! Night! Oh, Tempests!
Roll out from your immensity!
Typhoons! Sweep the seas! . . .

Who could these wretches be
Who only find in you
The laughter of the crowd
Exciting the executioner?
Who are they? If the star is mute,
If the wave passes resolute
As an elusive accomplice,
Before the confused night . . .
Say it then. Oh, austere muse,
Free and fearless muse.

They are the children of the desert
Where the land marries the light.
Where through the open landscape
The naked people soar . . .
They are intrepid warriors,
Who battle the spotted tigers,
In the wide solitude . . .
Simple men, strong and brave,
Today miserable slaves
Without air, or light, or reason . . .

These are wretched women
As was once Agar as well,
Who, thirsty, broken down,
Come far from where they dwell . . .
Bringing with their timid steps
Children and chains on their arms,
And in their souls—tears and gall.
Like Agar, they suffer so
They lack even the milk of tears
To quench the thirst of Ishmael . . .

There, in those expanses of sand,
Among the palms of their country,
They were born—beautiful children . . .
They lived—noble young women . . .
One day the caravan comes
While the virgin, in her hut
Dreams of veils in the night . . .
. . . Farewell! straw hut in the hill
. . . Farewell! palm trees by the spring! . . .
. . . Farewell! my loves . . . Good-bye!

( . . . )

Dear God of the unfortunate!
Tell me, Dear Lord!
If I am delirious . . . or if this is reality
Such horror before heaven . . .
Oh Sea, why do you not erase
with your waves
This blot from your cloak? . . .
Stars! Night! Oh, Tempests!
Roll out from your immensity!
Typhoons! Sweep the seas! . . .

And there is a nation whose banner flies
Over such infamy and cowardice! . . .
And transforms in this feast
Into the impure cloak of a dissolute woman! . . .
Dear God! Dear God! What flag is this,
Shamelessly fluttering on the foretop?
Silence! . . . Muse! Weep, weep so much
The banner may be cleansed by your tears.

Golden green pennant of my land,
You whom Brazil’s breeze sways and kisses,
Standard gathering in the light of the sun,
And the divine promises of hope . . .
You, who were hoisted on the heroes’ lance,
After the war to signal freedom,
Before you could be tattered amid the battle,
Serve these people as a shroud! . . .

Atrocious fate that minds obliterate!
Extinguish now the dreadful brig
The trail left by Columbus on the wave,
Like an iris in the ocean deep! . . .
. . . It is too much infamy . . .
From the ethereal zone
Emerge, oh heroes of the New World . . .
Andrada! uproot this banner from the main!
Columbus! Close the doors to your ocean!

 

Minha Voz, Minha Vida
Caetano Veloso

Minha voz, minha vida
Meu segredo e minha revelação
Minha luz escondida
Minha bússola e minha desorientação
Se o amor escraviza
Mas é a única libertação
Minha voz é precisa
Vida que não é menos minha
que da canção

Por ser feliz, por sofrer,
por esperar eu canto
Por ser feliz, por sofrer,
para esperar eu canto

Meu amor, acredite
Que se pode crescer assim pra nós
Uma flor sem limite
É somente porque eu trago
a vida aqui na voz.

My Voice, My Life

My voice, my life,
My secret and my revelation
My hidden light
My compass and disorientation
If love enslaves us
But is our only liberation
My voice is needed
Life is no less mine
than the song’s

For being happy, for suffering,
for waiting, I sing
To be happy, to suffer,
to wait, I sing

My love, believe me
If a flower can grow for us
Without limit
It is only because I bring
my life here in my voice.

 

Selected
Discography:

Title

Label

Date

Prenda Minha

PolyGram

1998

Livro

Mercury/Polygram

1997

Tieta do Agreste

Natasha

1996

Fina Estampa ao Vivo

PolyGram

1994

Fina Estampa

.PolyGram

1994

Tropicália 2 (Caetano and Gil)

Elektra/Nonesuch

1993

Circuladô Vivo

PolyGram

1992

Circuladô

Elektra/Nonesuch

1991

Estrangeiro

Philips

1989

Caetano

Philips

1987

Caetano Veloso

Nonesuch

1986

Totalmente Demais

Philips

1986

Velô

Philips

1984

Uns

Philips

1983

Cores, Nomes

Philips

1982

Outras Palavras

Philips

1981

Brasil (João Gilberto, Caetano, Gil, and
Bethânia)

WEA

1981

Cinema Transcendental

Verve

1979

Maria Bethânia e Caetano Veloso ao Vivo

Philips

1978

Muito (Dentro da Estrela Azulada)

Philips

1978

Muitos Carnavais

Philips

1977

Bicho

Philips

1977

Doces Bárbaros (Caetano, Gal, Gil, Bethânia)

Philips

1976

Qualquer Coisa

Philips

1975

Jóia

Philips

1975

Temporada de Verão (Caetano,Gal,Gil)

Philips

1974

Caetano & Chico Juntos e ao Vivo

Philips

1972

Araçá Azul

Philips

1972

Transa

Philips

1972

Caetano Veloso

Philips

1971

Barra 69 (Caetano and Gil)

Philips

Recorded live 1969* Released 1972

Caetano Veloso

Philips

1969

Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis

Philips

1968

Caetano Veloso

Philips

1968

Domingo (Caetano and Gal)

Philips

1967

* Horrible sound quality, but a valuable resource.

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