My coconut

Dalton Paula, Sound Barrier, 2013
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By MARCIO SALGADO*

Commentary on Caetano Veloso's recently released album

The angel of poetry could not be like the others, he had to be crooked, as Carlos Drummond de Andrade wrote in “Poema de Sete Faces”: “When I was born, a crooked angel / one of those who live in the shadows / said: Go, Carlos! to be left in life."

He has inspired other literary angels and has now resurfaced in the composition “Anjos Tronchos”, by Caetano Veloso, which deals with the influence of the internet and social media in the contemporary world, transforming – for better or for worse – people's lives. The composer’s verses say: “Some tough angels from Silicon Valley / Of those who live in the dark in broad daylight / They said they will be virtuous in their addiction / Of blue screens more than blue.”

In both poems, it is not just any angel who contemplates their authors, but “those who live in the shadow”, or “those who live in the dark…” Drummond’s brings a layer of subjectivity, Caetano’s, of reality. virtual.

The first is modern, it shows a critical position towards the world: the term left (French, left) suggests this choice of the poet in facing life, and a certain irony that will accompany him, discreetly, as a literary mark. The second addressed a current issue, of post-modernity, where social networks publicize human desires and dramas.

The composer noted the following on a social network: “Although I am not very familiar with the issue of technology and its consequences, I made a song that seems to touch on much greater issues than its author is capable of mastering”.

Although mastering these issues is difficult, Caetano intuited the changes, pleasures and hardships of these new times: “Now my story is a dense algorithm.” This provokes psychic changes, it is not surprising that the composer concludes: “My neurons gained a new rhythm.” All this musical poetics, strange at first hearing, is arranged in more strangeness that extends and captures the listener during the course of the song.

In the composition “Ciclâmen do Líbano”, one of the most beautiful on the album, other angels return in verses that subtly refer to Venus, goddess of love, carnal desires and fertility. “May souls call each other / And bodies love each other.” At the end of the song, the musical verses: “May the angels complain / And the heavens proclaim” rhyme with “Ciclâmen do Lebanon”, a repeated verse, which gains density with the orchestral arrangement by Jacques Morelenbaum in the background. The song whose title refers to the red flower also refers to the sounds of the Middle East.

In the fado “Você-Você”, sung by Caetano with a Portuguese accent – ​​or wouldn't it be a fado! – features the singer Carminho, who belongs to the new generation of Portuguese fado singers, and is already known to the Brazilian public through participation in concerts or records by the Bahian composer himself, Chico Buarque and other artists.

The first verse of Caetano's fado song "Depois que nos dosmosdos" introduces the story that will be told in half light, without the great emotional appeal that characterizes fado, an expressive musical genre that talks about lost loves, the longing that plays in the background the Portuguese soul, the life of the people and other related themes. In this fado, Hamilton de Holanda's mandolin replaces the Portuguese guitar.

The track “Cobre” begins with the evocation of songs in praise: “Vibra o bronze de Santana”. Then it merges with a tune inspired by the skin color of the beloved in the sea in the sun. “O woman of noble complexion, she takes everything and has me / Over your copper bronze…” It is a romantic song that expresses a restrained sensuality.

In the multi-sounding song “Meu Coco”, the composer speaks of the country’s miscegenation: “We are mulattos, hybrids and mamelucos / And much more cafuzos…” This is a vision of Brazil that he has defended for a long time, including in music. “Sugar Cane Fields Forever”, from “Araçá Azul” (1973), inspired by a poem by Sousândrade, defined itself as a “democratic coastal mulatto.”

In the handwritten text that accompanies the release of the album My coconut (Sony Music, 2021), Caetano Veloso talks about his creative process and, in particular, some songs. “I often feel like I've done too many songs. Lack of rigor? But it so happens that since childhood I have loved popular songs, also because of their easy proliferation.” The work brings 12 new compositions, and, according to the musician, each one of them “has its own and intense life”.

The arrangements are by maestros Jacques Morelenbaum, Thiago Amud and Letieres Leite. The musical production is by Caetano himself with the composer and instrumentalist Lucas Nunes. The musicians Moreno Veloso, Marcio Victor, Vinicius Cantuária, among others; in addition to the singers Carminho and Dora Morelenbaum.

*Marcio Salgado is a journalist and writer. Author, among other books, of the novel The Philosopher of the Desert (Multifocus edition).

 

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