Sunday, August 27, 2006


Gilberto Gil, Brazil’s current Minister of Culture, recorded his album 1971 that very year while living in exile in London. I’ve only given a couple close listens to the album (I wish I had more time for close listens. One of the things I’ve come to appreciate during commutes to and from River Forest for school are the opportunities they give me to closely listen to a couple albums) so I’m still connecting and familiarizing myself to the songs (his cover of Windwood’s Can’t Find My Way Home is nice standout) but I’m really enjoying the supremely relaxed feel of many of its cuts. The track, Mama, for example, is a gorgeously breezy ballad that, like the rest of the album, comes soaked in a warm bath of silky reverb and casually saunters barefoot under a late August moon while Gil strums his acoustic (accompanied by the subtle bass playing and backing vocals of Chris B and laments Mama’s (Brazils?) desire to hold him too close to her apron strings. How else to read lines like, “I wanna kiss your face again/Am gonna go my way, mamma/ Don’t worry, don’t cry, don’t complain/Don’t try to hold me down”?

I wish I knew more about the specifics of the anti-government hi-jinx Gil and Velosa were up to that originally got them thrown in jail and eventually led to their exile. What little I do know about the military’s rule of Brazil from 1964 to 1985 was that there were, at least in the late 60’s and early 70’s, many within the military, especially during the time of Brazil's enormous economic expansion, who believed they had to strongly curtail any cultural/populist sentiment that questioned their authority. This included torture, disappearing and indiscriminate arrests. I’m guessing that they saw in Gil and Velosa, already hugely popular Brazilian pop stars, a couple of cocky upstarts who were not so covertly looking to subvert the authoritarian rule they found themselves and their music living under.

You can listen to every single one of Gil’s albums here on his amazing website.

No comments: