Not exactly a new book, but topical, Caetano Veloso's Tropical
Truth, A Story Of Music & Revolution In Brazil [Alfred
Knopf US$26], published in 2002 is a personal history of how
an indigenous [that is, local] music scene grew up despite
the fierce competition from American pop culture.
and his contemporaries Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Chico Buarque
and Os Mutantes experienced first hand a disintegrating society
in the midst of a social transformation when a military coup
in 1964 toppled the government and created a dictatorship
to preserve the deep divide between the rich and poor. Brazil
is also a multi-racial society mixed with native Brazilians
and Brazilians of European descend.
and his contemporaries used their music and art to make two
points. Firstly, that local music was as valid as Western
pop culture then sweeping the world. And, secondly, that the
youth movement was as powerful and timeless as the timeless
vogue for authoritarian leaderships. All those albums gave
credence to a Brazilian scene that has since been recognised
internationally as Tropicalia the music of the tropics.
Gil, then a leading Tropicalia musician, is the current Minister
of Culture in the new Brazilian cabinet which is now led by
a former labor leader. Brazil are also World Soccer Champions.
Brazilians have NEVER MISSED THEIR BALLS.
Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Maria Bethania and Caetano
Veloso all released solo albums in 1966. In Rio, the foursome
would come to be known as 'The Bahians.'
Gilberto Gil, with Nana Caymmi, daughter of the legendary
Dorival Caymmi, in 1967.
The March of a Hundred Thousand: The protest against the
murder of a student, Edson Luis, by the police. Front row, from
left: Chico Buarque, Arduinho Colazanti, Renato Borghi, Ze Celso,
Paulinho da Viola (facing away), Dede, Caetano, Nana Caymmi
and Gil. June 26, 1968.
Both performances of Prohibiting Is Prohibited at the
FIC were scandalous. Caetano said: "So you're the young
people who say they want to take power! If you're the
same in politics as you are in music, we're done for!"
Gil joined Caetano onstage, where they were pelted with
paper, plastic cups, and a chunk of wood that left Gil
with a bloody ankle. "Perhaps we had touched certain deep
structures in Brazilian life at great risk to ourselves.
Nevertheless, I felt proud."
Caetano and Gil's programme on TV Tupi, Divino, Marvilhoso,
was received more warmly than their performances at the
FIC and regularly featured Os Mutantes, Gal and Tom Ze.
It was suggested that Caetano and Gil were imprisoned
because they were present at the Sucata Club for a show
where this banner of Helio Oiticica's was hung. It pictures
the corpse of Cara de Cavalo, a famous Carioca criminal
murdered by the police, and reads "be a criminal, be a
hero." A judge shut the Sucata Club down after the incident.
Gil, after his release from prison. Caetano wrote:
"In jail he found the opportunity to attain a kind of
asceticism; he stopped eating meat and began learning
about macrobiotic food and Eastern systems of thought."
Onstage at the Castro Alves Theater. Four months after
their release from prison, Caetano and Gil were asked
to leave Brazil. They were allowed to do a concert to
raise money for travel expenses.
The programme for Gil and Caetano's last show in 1969.
Gil and Caetano: Exiled in London. Caetano wrote: "Those
years were a cloudy dream. I came truly to love the green in
the parks, the calm in the crescent-shaped streets, the alleys,
the mosses and flowers Ð in sum, there came to me there a kind
of wisdom about life, in a genuine and intense way, such as
I had never imagined I could find. I honored the public and
the private gardens alike with sincere reverance, but every
day I would steal a rose from one of them to bring to Dede."
||Gilberto Gil in London.
Caetano wrote: 'At times, through the years, I have heard
Gil say, and been deeply moved by it, that when he met
me he felt as though he were leaving behind a great loneliness:
when he saw me he was sure that he had found a true companion."