Sujeito de Sorte

Lyrics from “Sujeito de Sorte” by Belchior (1976)

___
Presentemente eu posso me considerar um sujeito de sorte // Presently I can consider myself a lucky guy
Porque apesar de muito moço me sinto são e salvo e forte // Because in spite of being very young I feel safe and sound and strong
E tenho comigo pensado Deus é brasileiro e anda do meu lado // And I’ve been thinking to myself God is Brazilian and walks by my side
E assim já não posso sofrer no ano passado // And because of that I can’t suffer anymore in the year gone by

Tenho sangrado demais, tenho chorado pra cachorro // I’ve bled too much, I’ve cried like crazy
Ano passado eu morri mas esse ano eu não morro // Last year I died, but this year I won’t (3x)

— Commentary —

Musico Belchior em 1977.  FOTO DIVULGAÇÃO.
Belchior in 1977. 

Belchior’s 1976 album Alucinação was one of the most important albums of that decade — one of the richest in the history of Brazilian popular music — and remains tremendously popular and relevant today. It was Belchior’s second studio album (after A Palo Seco, 1974), and the Brazilian public devoured it; the album sold over 30,000 copies in the first three weeks after its release.

One Brazilian music critic has attributed the album’s appeal to its quality of “wringing out the anxiety of the Brazilian youth, caught between the violence of the state” — during Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-85) — “and the end of the dreams of liberation represented by the countercultural revolution.”

Belchior’s death in 2017 coincided with a parallel climate of anxiety. The end of Brazil’s optimistic socioeconomic boom years (~2005-12) culminated in the 2016 impeachment of left-leaning president Dilma Rousseff — Brazil’s first female president — and the rise of authoritarian politicians like the country’s president-elect (to be inaugurated tomorrow, at writing), the far-right retired army captain Jair Bolsonaro. Both the composer’s death and that political turn have brought renewed attention over the past couple years to the messages captured on Belchior’s best-loved album.

Belchior was born Antônio Carlos Gomes Belchior Fontanelle Fernandes in Sobral, Ceará, on October 26, 1946, the thirteenth of twenty-three children. He used to joke that his excessively long name was “one of the greatest in Brazilian popular music,” the kind of name that, in the northeastern backlands where he was born, people said you “crossed on horseback.” Belchior moved to the state capital of Fortaleza for school in 1962, and in the 60s he began performing his compositions for music festivals around the northeast. By the early 1970s he had moved on to the more popular festivals of Rio and São Paulo, taking first place in Rio’s 1971 IV Festival Universitário da Canção with “Hora do Almoço.”

In Rio, Belchior caught the attention of singer-songwriter Sérgio Ricardo, who, in 1972,  launched the short-lived series Disco de Bolso — Pocket Album — with the leftist satirical weekly O Pasquim. The 78rpm series, which unfortunately only lasted two editions, sought to feature a well-known singer-songwriter on one side and promote a relatively unknown composer on the other. The first edition featured Tom Jobim singing his recent composition “Águas de Março” on one side, and the still little-known João Bosco on the other singing “Agnus Sei.”  For the “unknown composer” side of the second edition, Ricardo selected Belchior’s composition “Mucuripe,” a collaboration with Fagner, another singer-songwriter from Ceará who was on his way to becoming tremendously popular. Caetano Veloso recorded the song alongside “A Volta da Asa Branca,” by the northeastern star Luiz Gonzaga.

Elis Regina, one of the greatest voices of Brazilian popular music and one of its most talented curators, took a liking to “Mucuripe,” and released it on her 1972 LP Elis (along with Jobim’s “Águas de Março”). Regina would go on to popularize two of Belchior’s compositions from Alucinação “Como Nossos Pais” and “Velha Roupa Colorida.” The latter song was a call for the counterculture crowd to shed its time-worn “peace-love” trappings and take a renewed and more powerful political stance against the authoritarian dictatorship. Raúl Seixas, perhaps the greatest icon of the counterculture, responded to that song with his 1976 “Eu Também Vou Reclamar” (translated on my Facebook page) which ironized the protest song as little more than a gimmick to sell records. Seixas invoked Belchior’s “Apenas Um Rapaz Latino-Americano” (Just a Latin American Guy) explicitly, singing “Agora sou apenas um latino-americano que não tem cheiro nem sabor (Now I’m just a Latin American guy without any scent or flavor). The little feud was in good fun, though, and Belchior went on to record Seixas’s countercultural anthem “Ouro de Tolo” (Fool’s Gold, translated here) in 1984.

Belchior was often compared to Bob Dylan for his nasal and rough-edged singing style; his lengthy poetic lyrics; and his tendency to speak, rather than sing, parts of those lyrics. Dylan was unquestionably an influence, but Belchior said his style of singing actually came from the Gregorian chants he grew up with in the Catholic school he attended in Ceará.

After the release of his final album in late 2002,  Belchior grew increasingly reclusive. He made his last public appearance in 2009, in a show with Tom Zé, and — facing tremendous fines for things like abandoning cars in parking lots — he vanished from the public eye.

Belchior died of a reported heart attack on April 30, 2017, prompting an outpouring of grief from his fans young and old in Brazil. The hashtag/movement #voltabelchior (Come Back, Belchior) swept the internet, and fans in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, established the Carnival bloco (parade group) “Volta Belchior.”

“Viena fica na 28 de Setembro” & “Tempos do onça e da fera (Quarador)”

Lyrics from “Viena fica na 28 de Setembro” by Aldir Blanc and João Bosco (1982)


Morre a luz da noite // The evening’s light dies
O porre acende pra me iluminar // The liquor lights up to illuminate me
Numa outra cena…// In another scene…
Zune o vento e valsam os oitis // The wind howls and the oiti trees waltz
No velho boulevard // On the old boulevard
Bosques de viena! // The Vienna Woods!
Escrevo carta a uma desconhecida // I write a letter to some unknown woman
Com quem tive um flerte, um anjo azul…// With whom I had a little dalliance, a blue angel
Pobres balconistas de paquete // Poor saleswomen on the rag
de ar infeliz // with an air of discontentment
São novas Bovarys…// Are new Bovarys
Já perdi o expresso do oriente // I’ve missed the Orient Express
Onde sempre sou // Where I’m always
Vítima e assassino… // Victim and assassin
Tomo a carruagem e o cocheiro // I take a coach and the coachman
De tabela dois // On Table 2 (late-night fare)
Diz que é vascaíno… // Says he’s vascaíno
Ah, triste figura, don quixote // Ah, sorry character, Don Quixote
Quer mais um traçado // After another quest
– cadê o sancho? // — Where’s Sancho?
Dá pro santo, bebe, e o passado // He gives a little to the saint, drinks, and the past
Volta a desfilar // comes marching back
Pierrô de marcha-rancho: // Pierrot of a marcha-rancho:
Com as bronca do Ary Barroso, sem elas… // With Ary Barroso’s rebukes, without them
Com a bossa do Ciro Monteiro, sem ela… // With Ciro Monteiro’s bossa , without it
Com o copo cheio de Vinícius, sem ele…// With Vinicius’s full glass, without it
Com nervos de aço Lupicinio, sem eles…// With Lupicínio’s “nervos de aço,” without them
Com as mãos do Antonio Maria, sem elas…// With Antonio Maria’s hands, without them
Com a voz do Lamartine Babo, sem ela… // With Lamartine Babo’s voice, without it
Com a rosa Dolores Duran, sem ela…// With the rose Dolores Duran, without her
Com a majestade da Elis, sem ela…// With the majesty of Elis, without her


Lyrics from “Tempos do Onça e da Fera (Quarador)” by Aldir Blanc and João Bosco (1977)


Saindo pro trabalho de manhã // Leaving for work in the morning
o avô vestia o sol do quarador // The grandfather wore the sun of the quarador (bleaching ground)
tecido em goiabeiras, sabiás // woven in guava trees, song-thrushes
cigarras, vira-latas e um amor // cicadas, mutts, and a love
E o amor ia ao portão pra dar adeus // And the love would go to the gate to say goodbye
de pano na cabeça, espanador… // With a headscarf on, a feather duster…
Os netos.. o quintal… Vila Isabel // The grandchildren… the yard.. Vila Isabel
Todo o Brasil era sol, quarador // All of Brazil was sun, quarador
Hoje, acordei depois do meio-dia // Today I woke up after noon
chovia, passei mal no elevador // It was raining; I felt sick in the elevator
ouvi na rua as garras do Metrô // I heard the metro’s talons on the street below
O avô morreu // The grandfather died
Mudou Vila Isabel ou mudei eu? // Did Vila Isabel change or did I?
Brasil
Tá em falta o honesto sol do quarador // We’re missing that honest sun of the quarador 

— Commentary —

Todo mundo é carioca. Mas Aldir Blanc é carioca mesmo.
Dorival Caymmi

1aldir-aos-7-anos-no-quintal-da-casa-dos-avos-maternos-em-vila-isabel
Aldir Blanc at age seven in Vila Isabel.

rua-dos-artistas-e-arredores-de-aldir-blanc-557101-mlb20271391652_032015-fAldir Blanc was born in Estácio — one of Rio de Janeiro’s neighborhoods known as the “cradle of samba” — in 1946. When he was six*, his family moved to Vila Isabel (another “cradle of samba”) to a house on Rua dos Artistas. The yard of the new home provided a perfect natural playground for a young child, with its guava, orange and banana trees. These trees, and the sounds associated with them – like cicadas and song-thrushes (sabiás, the Brazilian national bird) – became an indelible part of the imagery of mid-19th-century Vila Isabel that Aldir passes on through his songs, poetry, and stories (crônicas).  Aldir weaves together the scenery, sounds, and slang from the era, elegantly recreating Rio’s Zona Norte of his childhood.

Vila Isabel was one of Rio de Janeiro’s first planned neighborhoods, laid out by the abolitionist Barão de Drummond in the early 1870s. (Drummond is better known for having created Brazil’s widely popular, albeit illegal, animal-based gambling game, Jogo do Bicho, to promote his new zoo in Vila Isabel.) The thoroughfare, named for the date in 1871 that Princesa Isabel decreed the Law of Free Birth,  earned the distinguished designation of “boulevard” because it was most painstakingly modeled after Parisian boulevards. In the song, the store clerks on the boulevard, like their French forebear Madame Bovary,  exude disappointment with their monotonous lives; nearby, oiti trees waltz, as if to Strauss’s famous “Tales from the Vienna Woods.” While Boulevard 28 de Setembro was lined with pau-ferro (“iron wood trees”) in 1910, oiti is another favorite native tree for urban arborization that was planted around Vila Isabel and surrounding Zona Norte neighborhoods in the beginning of the 20th century.

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Aldir Blanc in a Vasco jersey.

Agatha Christie’s novel Murder on the Orient Express was first released in 1934, and the “victim and assassin” line makes reference to this mystery. I imagine that with Orient Express, Aldir is referring to the tram that ran in Vila Isabel until the mid-1960s, or the bus line.  Blanc, like the late-night coachman of the song, is vascaíno – a die-hard fan of Rio’s Vasco da Gama football team. To “give some to the saint” is a practice of pouring a little bit of alcohol on the ground before drinking. In this line, though in the translation it sounds as though he’s still talking about the coachman, here he actually seems (to me) to be back to talking about himself.

Closely associated with the melancholy pierrotthe marcha-rancho is a slower, more richly melodious style of Carnaval marcha that was most popular from the 1930s – 1950s. Aldir’s mention of the pierrot of a marcha-rancho sets the stage for the reminiscence that follows,  a wistful tribute to a series of beloved masters of Brazilian popular music of the 20th century who had passed away over the preceding 25 years, and who were known for the characteristics he mentions: Lupicínio’s famous song “Nervos de aço,” for instance, Vinicius’s full glass of spirits, and ultimately, Elis’s overwhelming majesty. The song was composed shortly after Elis Regina’s untimely death in January 1982, which had left Aldir stunned. The two had been devoted musical partners, but they’d recently had a falling out, of sorts. Aldir laments that he hadn’t properly gotten the chance to reconcile.

“Tempos do Onça e da Fera”

lugar-onde-a-ma%cc%83e-velha-ia-1965-quarar-a-rou-pa-pq
Example of a “quarador”, or bleaching ground. Sometimes clothes were laid on wire drying racks.

“Nos tempos do Onça” (in the days of the Jaguar) is an old-fashioned carioca way of saying a long, long time ago. The saying derived from references to the Portuguese administrator of Rio de Janeiro from 1725 – 1732, Luís Vaia Monteiro. Monteiro’s harsh, irascible nature earned him the nickname of the “onça,” or jaguar.

The quarador — also known as quaradouro or cuarador — was an especially sunny plot in the yard or courtyard where clothes were laid out to dry, and is usually referred to as a drying ground or bleaching ground in English.  Here Aldir recalls the quarador in his childhood home, where his dear grandfather’s shirts soaked up the “honest sun” of the olden days together with elements of the natural surroundings.

Aldir has said that by and large his lyrics and writings are built of the recollections of the little boy who lived in Vila Isabel, where he could hear Benedito Lacerda’s flute floating in from nearby, and where he was likely first enchanted by the sambas of his predecessor in the Vila, the “poet of the Vila” Noel Rosa. To this day, when asked to choose “the most beautiful song,” he gives a few responses – all by Noel Rosa.

These two songs clearly express Aldir’s love and pining for the neighborhood as it was in his early childhood, or even before. Aldir’s grandparents helped raise him — in part because his mother suffered from debilitating depression — and his close relationship with them may have helped him develop his rich repertoire of old-time sayings and manners of speaking, along with his robust sense of nostalgia.

For more on the Aldir Blanc – João Bosco partnership, see these posts.

* The ages that he lived in Vila Isabel change slightly in different accounts. In this recent interview with O Globo, he recalls that it was from ages 3 – 11. In A poesia de Aldir Blanc, Melodias e Letras Cifradas… he recalls that it was from ages 6 – 13.

Tim Maia: “Não vou ficar” – “Azul da cor do mar” – “These are the songs”

“Não vou ficar” (Tim Maia; recorded by Roberto Carlos, 1969)


Há muito tempo eu vivi calado // For so long I kept quiet
Mas agora resolvi falar // But now I’ve decided to speak up
Chegou a hora, tem que ser agora // It’s time, it’s gotta be now
E com você não posso mais ficar // And with you, I can’t stay any longer
Não vou ficar, não (não, não) // No, I’m not gonna stay,  no no no
Não posso mais ficar, não, não, não (nao, nao) // I can’t stay any longer, no no…
Não posso mais ficar // I can’t stay any longer

Toda verdade deve ser falada // All truths must be spoken
E não vale nada se enganar // And it’s worthless to fool yourself
Não tem mais jeito, tudo está desfeito // There’s no way out, everything’s undone
E com você não posso mais ficar // And with you, I can’t stay any longer
Não vou ficar, não (não, não) // I’m not gonna stay, no no no
Não posso mais ficar, não, não, não(Não, não) // I can’t stay, no no
Não posso mais ficar // I can’t stay any longer
Pensando bem // Thinking it over
Não vale a pena // It’s not worth it
Ficar tentando em vão // To keep trying in vain
O nosso amor não tem mais solução // Our love has no cure
Não, não, não, não, não, não, não // No, no, no, no no no
Por isso resolvi agora // That’s why I decided now
Te deixar de fora do meu coração // To leave you out of my heart
Com você não dá mais certo e ficar sozinho // It doesn’t work with you anymore, and to stay alone
Minha solução, é solução sim (nao, nao) // My solution, that’s a real solution (no no no)
Não tem mais solução, não, não, não (nao, nao) // There’s no other way out (no no no)
Não tem…// There’s no other way out

“Azul da cor do mar”  (Tim Maia, 1970)

Ah! Se o mundo inteiro me pudesse ouvir // Ah! if the whole world could only hear me
Tenho muito pra contar // I have a lot to tell
Dizer que aprendi // To say that I’ve learned

E na vida a gente tem que entender // And in life we need to understand
Que um nasce pra sofrer // That some are born to suffer
Enquanto o outro ri // While the other laughs

Mas quem sofre sempre tem que procurar // But the sufferer always needs to seek out
Pelo menos vir achar // At least come to find
Razão para viver // A reason to live

Ver na vida algum motivo pra sonhar // See in life some reason to dream
Ter um sonho todo azul // Have a deep blue dream
Azul da cor do mar // Blue the color of the sea


“These are the songs” by Tim Maia, released together with Elis Regina (1970)


These are the songs
I wanna sing
These are the songs
I wanna play
I will sing it every (little) time
And I will sing it every day (Now listen here)
These are the songs
That I wanna sing and play

Esta é a canção que eu vou ouvir // This is the song I’m gonna hear
Esta é a canção que eu vou cantar // This is the song I’m gonna sing
Fala de você, meu bem // It speaks of you, my dear
E do nosso amor também // And of our love, too
Sei que você vai gostar // I know you’ll like it

 

— Commentary —

tim-maia_tarrytown
Tim Maia, right, during his days in Tarrytown, NY, where he lived from 1959 – 1963. He formed this vocal-harmony group the Ideals with an Italian singer he met, and the group recorded one song – “New Love” – with lyrics by Maia. Maia re-recorded the song in 1973.

 

A few days back – 28 September 2016 – would have been the 74th birthday of the father of Brazilian soul music, Tim Maia. I meant to have this post up in time for the date, but got too caught up in the stories in Nelson Motta’s biography, Vale Tudo: Tim Maia. I decided to separate the post in two parts:  The first covers Maia’s early life and the beginning of his career (1942 – 1970ish), and an upcoming post will focus on the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Childhood

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Baby “Tião” Maia, Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, c. 1946.

Sebastião “Tião” Maia (September 28, 1942 – March 14, 1998) grew up in Rio’s north-zone neighborhood of Tijuca. The youngest of twelve children, his irascible temperament and plumpish figure were signs of the spoiling he received starting early on, as the youngest of the clan; both would plague him throughout his life.

Tião’s father ran a fairly successful little restaurant, and Tião began delivering boxed meals – marmitas -for the restaurant at age 12. He spent the rest of his adolescence trying to rid himself of the unfortunate appellation the neighborhood kids gave him, “Tião Marmiteiro” – something like Tião Lunchbox Boy; his rocker personas were part of this attempt to shed that identity. As he pounded the pavement carrying  meals on an iron rod over his shoulders, he sang radio hits, refining his voice.

When he was 13, Tião was allowed to take a different job, as an office boy with a local business, running odd errands around town. He was fired after three months for being disrespectful and talking back to his bosses, a portent of his professional future. He lasted even less time in his next job, and began to spend more and more time running around the city with friends, eating, playing soccer, singing and banging out beats on any can he could find. When he turned 15, he demanded a debutante ball, a luxury none of his sisters had indulged in, but which he felt he deserved – and his parents conceded.

The Beginning

The explosion of rock and roll in the United States in the mid-1950s reverberated over radio waves in Tijuca, where Maia became enraptured with the sounds and simple chords, which he quickly learned to imitate on the guitar.

timmaia_sputniks
Tim Maia playing with the Sputniks in 1957

Every day at 5 p.m. he tuned in to the Hora de Broadway on Rádio Metropolitana, where he listened to and perfected his imitations of the likes of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Barry. He began to hang out with other young local rock aficionados at Lanchonete Divino (address: Haddock Lobo, esquina com Matoso). The usual crowd at Divino included one of Tião’s old friends from the Tijuca soccer pitches, Erasmo Carlos, Jorge Ben, and  Arlênio Lívio. One day in late 1957,  Arlênio brought along another friend to sing for Tião:  Roberto Carlos. Tião invited Roberto to be the fifth member of the rock band he was forming with Arlênio, Edson Trindade and Wellington Oliveira,  the Sputniks. And through this crowd, Roberto Carlos met Erasmo Carlos, who would become one of his greatest musical partners over the next half-century.

 

The Nickname “Tim” 

The Sputniks kids auditioned for local rock big-shot Carlos Imperial, who invited them for their one and only TV appearance on his segment Clube do Rock – the beginning of the end for the group. Back stage after the performance, Roberto sang a solo Elvis impression for Imperial, who invited him to perform alone on an upcoming program. Tião felt jealous and betrayed when he heard the news, and the ensuing fight signaled the end of the Sputniks. On the program, Imperial announced Roberto Carlos as the “Brazilian Elvis Presley.” Trying to swallow his rage, Maia determined that he preferred to be the Brazilian Little Richard anyway – their extravagant, brash-black styles were much more in sync. He tracked down Imperial and belted out “Long Tall Sally“; Imperial scheduled him for the show, suggesting he go by a more stage-friendly nickname, Tim.

Bossa Nova and New York

gilberto-jobim-61-copacabana-palace-1-rt2b
João Gilberto and Tom Jobim in front of Copacabana Palaca, 1961.

But just when rock seemed to be taking off in Tijuca, the late 50s brought dramatic changes: Between late 1957 and early 1959, Elvis Presley went into military service in Germany; Little Richard became an ordained minister of the Seventh Day Adventist Church; and Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in February 1959 – the same month Maia’s father passed away. Meanwhile, João Gilberto released Chega de Saudade, the archetypal album of bossa nova. Suddenly the upper-class crowd from Rio’s beachside Zona Sul dominated the music scene across Rio and Brazil, with chords and harmonies that Tim had never even imagined.

 

Frustrated by the flagging rock scene and fascinated by the bossa nova boom, Maia and Roberto Carlos struggled to break into that scene with the help of well-connected Carlos Imperial, but to no avail.  So, taking advantage of the relative sense of liberty that came with the death of his father, Maia gathered what amounted to almost nothing and caught a church-sponsored plane to New York.

A former client of the family restaurant gave him a letter with the address of a woman who had married an Irish New Yorker thirty years prior. After myriad mishaps, Maia was warmly received by the woman’s family in a cozy, Tarrytown, NY, home. Fortunately they had a son born on the exact same day – 28 September, 1942 – a coincidence which warmed their hearts to Tim.

Maia quickly became fluent in the slangy English spoken by the blacks and Puerto Ricans he hung out with in Tarrytown, and became increasingly infatuated with the rock and soul music that now surrounded him. He took odd jobs as long as they’d put up with him, and when he tired of the comfy suburban life, he moved in with questionable characters in a gritty part of town.  From then on he essentially couch-surfed,  sometimes passing cold nights on the heated NYC subway trains when he had the money for the fare.

In late 1961, he met Felix De Masi, an Italian singer, and together they formed the vocal group The Ideals, and recorded one song, with lyrics by Maia – “New Love” – which Tim re-recorded in 1973.

Finally,  Maia made his way out of the suburbs, to Manhattan, where he found a job that made more sense for him: janitor in an old-folks home. He earned room and board, and was closer to the vibrant music scene, frequenting the Village and Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater.

Road Trip, Prison and Deportation

But with the arrival of winter 1963, Tim decided to steal a car with friends and head south with plenty of pot for the road. On the trip he was arrested five times, the last time charged with car theft and thrown in a Florida jail, where he spent six months before being deported. He disembarked in Rio in April 1964: the country was now run by the recently installed military dictatorship, and to his surprise, his old Tijuca buddies Roberto Carlos, Erasmo Carlos and Jorge Ben Jor had moved to São Paulo and were blowing up on the radio.

Maia managed to land some jobs as a tour guide with his good English, but his lackluster knowledge of the city’s geography and history meant he didn’t last very long in the field. And it didn’t take too long for him to get thrown back in jail again: In early 1966, he was caught stealing a table and chairs from a home in Tijuca – an attempt to finance an upcoming recording. As he completed his ten-month prison sentence, he looked on in helpless dismay as his old friends from Lanchonette Divino became stars.

São Paulo and the Jovem Guarda

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October 1966: Roberto Carlos was crowned the “Rei da Jovem Guarda”

Immediately after he was released from jail Maia scrambled onto a bus to São Paulo, armed with two full cans of condensed milk to drink along the way. He went directly to TV Record, where he tried to make his way into the rock program Jovem Guarda with Roberto and Erasmo. But for months Tim had no luck even talking to Roberto, much less making it onto the stage. He finally managed to earn an appearance on the show after he caught up with Roberto’s wife, Nice, in Rio, in 1967. But he was bitterly disappointed by the rather straight-edge audience’s reception of his black, soul sound.

“Não vou ficar”

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L-R: Erasmo Carlos, Tim Maia, and Roberto Carlos, c. 1969.

Still convinced that he deserved the same – actually more – fame and adulation as his old friends, Tim sought out Roberto Carlos and Nice at their São Paulo apartment to show them his composition “Você,”  which Eduardo Araújo was preparing to record. They liked it, but Roberto wanted something rougher, with more swing – and that another singer wasn’t already getting ready to release. Roberto said he’d record it if Tim brought it.

Tim anxiously composed “Não vou ficar” and brought it back to Roberto, with the arrangement already in mind. Roberto kept his word, recorded the song, and it was a hit across the country, received as the mark of a new, grittier, more adult period for Carlos .

“Azul da cor do mar”

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Fábio and Tim Maia

The tremendous success of “Não vou ficar” opened doors for Tim, who received an invitation to record a compact with Polydor in Rio de Janeiro. Still in São Paulo, Tim ran into the popular Rio-based Paraguayan singer Fábio, whom he had met through an acquaintance from Tijuca, Almir Ricardi, and who was an early admirer of Tim’s soul style. Maia told Fábio that he would be moving back to Rio de Janeiro and brazenly asked Fábio if he could stay at his apartment. Fábio conceded.

tahiti-girl-ocean

Soon after, Maia arrived in Rio de Janeiro to record the compact with Polydor. Crashing at Fábio’s, he found himself sleeping on an uncomfortable couch as Fábio and his producer Gláuco received girl after girl in their private rooms. He felt alone and frustrated. When Fábio and Glaúco traveled to Salvador, he moved into Gláuco’s room, where he could still smell the girls’ perfume on the sheets, and felt even more lonesome in the empty apartment. As he gazed at a poster on the wall, with a naked girl in front of blue Tahitian sea, he composed “Azul da cor do mar.”  Fábio listened to Tim sing the song when he returned to the apartment, and exclaimed: “Carajo, brother, you’ve just written the song of your life!” Tim recorded the song for his first LP, also with Polydor, and indeed the public loved it – more out of appreciation for Maia’s tremendous voice and fresh soul style than for any particular aspect of the song itself.

Elis and “These are the songs”

thesearethesongs
Tim and Elis

In early 1969, Nelson Motta, Maia’s biographer, had just taken a job as a record producer with Phillips, and was assigned to produce for Elis Regina, to this day perhaps Brazil’s most beloved female singer of all time. Elis was looking for a new sound to record, and when Motta heard Tim Maia’s recording of “Primavera” (Cassiano & Silvio Rochiel) and “Jurema” on that simple compact  Maia had recorded while staying with Fábio, Motta had a feeling this was just what Elis was looking for.  He scheduled a meeting in Rio with Tim, Elis, Wilson das Neves, and other musicians recording with Elis.

Tim arrived at the studio on his best behavior and played two songs, the second being “These are the songs” – half in English, half in Portuguese; half soul, half bossa nova. Elis and Motta loved it. Elis asked him to play it again, and started singing along as the musicians in the studio started playing around with accompaniments. They quickly moved on to recording. After a few takes, Motta recalls, “More than a duet, the recording was turning into a duel between two giants, two styles, two very different schools, each one wanting to sing better than the other.” The president of Phillips heard the recording and loved it. Tim went to São Paulo with Elis and the musicians, and received advanced royalties from the album, which the Phillips execs knew was going to blow up. The recognition also was a tremendous boost for his first LP, which he was just finishing recording with Polydor. Everything finally seemed to have come in place for his career to take off.

Main source for this post: Vale Tudo: Tim Maia by Nelson Motta, and A Canção no Tempo: 85 anos de músicas brasileiras, vol.2, by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello