Monday, January 7, 2008

Seven things to know about Caetano Veloso

Despite his ongoing popularity in his native Brazil, Caetano Veloso remains relatively unknown in many musical circles – particularly in The united States. Here's a broad sampling of the output from this musical pioneer, who has been putting out records since 1967.

1 – "(Nothing But) Flowers"
Returning the favor of David Byrne, who wrote the liner notes for his "Best of" compilation , Veloso recorded this Talking Heads standby as part of 2004's " A Foreign Sound." The diverse collection of favorite American songs includes Tin Pan Alley favorites ("The Man I Love") as well as more recent additions to the nation's musical pantheon (Nirvana's "Come As You Are").

2 – "Irene"
This song – about a machine gun "laughing," not a girl – is a reflection of Veloso's mindset and his own political situation when this song was released on his so-called White Album in 1969. Punished for his outspoken opposition to the military dictatorship that took over Brazil in 1964, Veloso was restricted to the city of Salvador (He would eventually be exiled along with Gilberto Gil and live in London until 1972). He recorded the basic tracks to his second solo LP in a small studio. The results were shipped to producer Rogério Duprat, who added extra layers in his more complete São Paulo studio.

3 – "Burn It Blue"
Though Veloso has enjoyed more crossover appeal in the United States than most other Brazilian artists, this 2002 collaboration with Lila Downs on the Frida soundtrack placed him in front of his largest American audience ever when he and Downs performed the Oscar-nominated song at the 75th Academy Awards.

4 – "Tropicalia" ("Tropicalism")
The song that gave the musical movement its name, this opening cut from Veloso's 1968 self-titled release was untitled until Veloso adapted the name of a piece of Brazilian performance art by Hélio Oiticica. Proudly trumpeting its eclecticism under the rubrick of "Antropofagia" (artistic cannibalism), tropicalia (also known as "Tropicalismo") was exciting, irreverent – and unlike anything that had preceded it in Brazilian music.

5 – "É Preciso Perdoar (You Must Forgive)"
This haunting song, most closely associated with guitarist João Gilberto, appears on the 1996 benefit CD, Red Hot + Rio. It features Veloso trading verses with Cesária Évora behind a simple yet effective synth-laden instrumental background from Ryuichi Sakamoto.

6 – "Samba de Verão" ("Summer Samba")
Though his Tropicalia movement shifted Brazilian music away from its previous traditions, Veloso has returned to pure Bossa Nova from time to time– often to great results, such as this recording of what may rank behind "The Girl from Ipanema" as the most popular Bossa Nova of all time. His high and delicate tenor is just right for this piece, which is also known as "So Nice" to American audiences.

7 –"Nåo me Arrependo" ("I Don't Regret")
Described by Veloso as the "most emotional" song on his 2006 album , the song is about a great romance that has ended and is tinged with a sense of melancholy about what could have been. Veloso isn't the only member of his family on this record – his son Moreno co-produced it with Brazilian guitar whiz Pedro Sa.

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