I leave for Brazil in 2 days. On Thursday. I’m so excited. I cannot wait to get off the plane, head back to my parent’s condo, crack a bottle of wine and talk for hours while eating yummy Brazilian food and likely getting a little boozed up. Because that is just the way we roll.
That is, when we aren’t lounging in Central Park, bein’ all cool in our black and demin big city looks.
So for today’s musical connections, I will be taking inspiration from Brazil. I’ve received a few messages from a guy I went to High School with in Brazil who now lives in Boston. I wasn’t paying too much attention to them, and would just delete them without reading. Yesterday, I discovered that he was actually inviting people to Bootie Parties, and as it happens, I’ve been listening to his bootie mixes for about 8 months. The song that led me to this discovery?
Instantly I shared this with my most favorite of geeks and nerds, and instantly they were hooked. Darth Vader never looked so rhythmic.
It might not be what people think of when they think: Brazil. But samba, with a wicked awesome heavy drumbeat is the heartbeat of the entire country. Because it has such a wonderful beat, it does make it easy-ish to mix with the unexpected. The best thing, in my opinion, about most Brazilian music is that it always puts either a bounce in my step or inspires me to break into dance.
Point in case: I challenge you not to dance after listening to Sergio Mendes’s Magalenha. Sergio Mendes is a Brazilian legend, and has released Timeless, an amazing album where he collaborated with contemporary North American musicians, such as the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, etc. My favorite of all these songs is That Heat, featuring Will.I.Am and Erykah Badu.
I have always felt that That Heat accurately describes a more modern Brazil, where traditional Brazilian culture has settled in – at times comfortably, at times not – with North American culture. However, the song that forever screams Brazil to me is Gilberto Gil’s Eu Vim Da Bahia.
This is not my favorite version. My favorite version can be downloaded right here. This version is off a compilation album called Chill Brazil. There are three or four of these, and each one has more than one CD. I like all of 2 songs on all 6-8 CDs. This one, and the iconic Garota de Ipanema.
This version was recorded on The Andy Williams Show. The version I prefer is sung by Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto’s wife – although she looks like she’s trying to stay awake. I suspect nerves.
This easy, breezy version of Light my fire by the Doors was recently sent to me by a friend. Also sung by Astrud (I have no problem seeing the exhausted facial expression during the song, she’s probably wearing head-to-toe black… maybe smoking a cigarette all lazy-like), it captures an effortlessness that is so quintessentially Brazilian, you almost need to experience it to fully understand it.
And since we’re winding down, my all time, number one, most favoritest Brazilian song of all time is one heard in Barzinhos throughout Brazil. A barzinho is a small bar (this is the literal translation). Walking down a street in a beach town, barzinhos litter the sides of the roads. Flimsy metal tables are packed as closely to the bar as possible, which is usually just a counter, with flimsy metal chairs packed around each table. Waiters rush from table to table with oversized bottles of Skol cerveja – or whatever else they happen to have – and squat glasses filled with caipirinha. Deep fried foods are the snacks, from baskets of fries to chunks of fish or pastels. Everything is freshly cooked, dripping with burning hot oil, and completely delicious.
You’ve spent the day soaking up sun on the beach, or on a day-long excursion. Snorkling, or horseback riding. You are completely exhausted, but in that vacation exhausted kind of way – tired, yet full of energy. You sit at this bar, and your ass brushes against the woman sitting behind you, moments later a frosty Skol arrives on your table, with as many little glasses as people you are with. And suddenly, a crude sound system is set up, and a sole man walks up to the mic and plugs in his acoustic guitar. You fear that the equipment will electrocute him, but it starts up with now problems. And this is what he sings.
A song that I cannot find streaming on the internet. Alas, it is a song that needs to be downloaded here. Se by Rubens Mendes, more than any other song, signifies Brazil to me. I hear it and instantly I feel more Brazilian.