Thursday, March 8, 2012
40 Years Ago: Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil Return to Brazil
In the late 1960's the Tropicalismo movement transformed popular music in Brazil by combining traditional salsa rhythms and bossa nova harmonies with electric guitars and psychedelic lyrics. The leaders of the movement, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, brought a new level of excitement to Brazilian music. But they also threatened that nation's military dictatorship. Both men were jailed for two months and then deported. They lived under grey skies, exiled in London for two and a half miserable but productive years.
Veloso and Gil in London
Finally, in early 1972, both men were allowed to return to Brazil but not before Veloso recorded Transa, a moody, mostly acoustic album. Veloso sings in both English and Portuguese and combines his tropicalismo sounds with the rock sounds he was hearing in England. Some of the longer songs are almost hypnotizing. Rolling Stone calls Transa one of the ten best album is Brazil's history.
The final track is a brief 12-bar message to all of those British songwriters he was hearing in a song called "Nostalgia":
You sing about waking up in the morning /
But you're never up before Noon
Forty years later, Veloso has been called Brazil's "Bob Dylan, Burt Bacharach and Paul Simon all rolled into one." Gil is also still performing as well as working as a politician and environmental advocate.