Peter Mason

Breon O'Casey, Music, 1997


Commentary on the song by Chico Buarque de Holanda

Despite not being a story, but a song, “Pedro Pedreiro”, in the auditions, counts as an unequivocal song. It seems like it only has a middle, but, round, it starts and ends perfectly. It just requires that your beginning-middle-end blends in with your style. Júlio Cortázar, without knowing it, as far as I know, I would have liked it, if I had known it. “Pedro Preiro Pensiero Waiting for the Train” contains character, action and context all at once, beginning with beginning, middle and end stitched together in the first verse; finished form of part-whole just like a system, more social than philosophy.

Drama, when it begins for those who read and listen, have to work to survive, they are born as adults, established in fiction. Those who wait see time stand still, those who do it here in make-believe work with rhythm, pulse and alliteration.

The narration, essentially temporal, conceals in “Pedro”, in the part that touches on the story, a false fixation on and over the song's lifespan, a matter of minutes. In time, the music, half of the song, only exists in action, it cannot be dismantled, it cannot be stored, it cannot be stored. The unrealistic idea that everything that is unseen does not exist, as it only materializes before the eyes, dies as a caricature and enters the ear as a contradiction rippling from the objectivity of the first note. It is either or nothing, no, nothing of or: becoming, perhaps, like the reality that “Pedro” refers to.

“Waiting, waiting, waiting / Waiting for the sun / Waiting for the train / Waiting for the rise […]”: time passes, the dream does not. Anaphoric stylization is a conflict with the hard life that lasts like stone. Coming in a line prior to the reading of the story, to the hearing of the song, “Since the last month”, time is created when it takes on a textual form, and touches Pedro while standing still, and tells him a story, for now not even a story, and warns him of the future, “next month”, temporally impossible for the salary increase to be achieved within two minutes and thirty-five seconds. The song genre is co-author of its effects, and here Brazil thrives, sometimes far away, sometimes close to its Pedros.

The percussion, permanent from start to finish, a representation of inevitable continuity, speeds up your sound clock, throbs your samba. Reacting to this indifference are the melodramatic brass, who only arrange what they arrange because they are more contingent, and are curiously happy, Latin American. There is a circle between Pedro and the bricklayer, or a non-teleological line that uses the well-finished Chico Buarque structure as a source of its virtual energy.

Then, like everything in life, it depends. The train announces “it’s coming”, a promise that, by repeating itself as a critical irony in the story, reveals that it may be stopped. Or, by repeating itself as onomatopoeia in the same final part of the song, generating an effect dependent on the interpretation given by the singing in a conscious and practical act, it signals that it could be hope.

*Rogério Rufino de Oliveira He is a professor of literature and a doctoral candidate in Literature at the Federal University of Espírito Santo (UFES).

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