“Na Pavuna” – “Lataria” – “Eu vou pra Vila”

“Na Pavuna” by Almirante and Homero Dornelas (pseudonym “Candoca da Anunciação”), released by Bando de Tangarás, January 1930

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Na Pavuna // In Pavuna
Na Pavuna // In Pavuna
Tem um samba // There’s a samba
Que só dá gente “reiúna” // Thronged with troopers*

O malandro que só canta com harmonia // The malandro that only sings with harmony
Quando está metido em samba de arrelia // When he’s in the midst of the fervent samba
Faz batuque assim // Beats like so
No seu tamborim // On his tamborim
Com o seu time, enfezando o batedor // With his team, riling up the beater
E grita a negrada: // And the black folk yell
Vem pra batucada // “Come to the batucada!” 
Que de samba, na Pavuna, tem doutor // Cause in Pavuna we have Doctors of Samba

Na Pavuna…

Na Pavuna, tem escola para o samba // In Pavuna, there’s a school for samba
Quem não passa pela escola, não é bamba // Anyone who doesn’t pass through it’s  no bamba (virtuoso of samba)
Na Pavuna, tem // In Pavuna there’s
Canjerê também // Canjerê too
Tem macumba, tem mandinga e candomblé // There’s macumba, mandinga and candomblé [all four of these refer to Afro-Brazilian religious or spiritual rituals]
Gente da Pavuna // People from Pavuna
Só nasce turuna // Are all born brutes
É por isso que lá não nasce “mulhé” // That’s why no pansies are born out there


“Lataria” by Almirante, João de Barro (Braguinha) & Noel Rosa, released by Bando de Tangarás, January 1931

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Conversation
Almirante: Como é, pessoá, vamos fazer uma batucada? // What you say, fellas, let’s make a batucada?
João de Barro: Vambora. Mas cadê pandeiro? // Let’s do it. But where’s the pandeiro?
Eduardo Souto: Pandeiro nada! Lata véia tá aí à beça // Forget the pandeiro! We have plenty of old cans.
João de Barro: Isso mesmo. Vamos fazê um batuque de lata véia! // Alright! Let’s have a batuque with old cans!
All: Vambora! // It’s on!

Lyrics
Já que não temos pandeiro // Since we don’t have a pandeiro
Pra fazer nossa batucada // To play our batucada
Todo mundo vai batendo // Everyone’s beating
Na lata velha e toda enferrujada // On an old rusty can

Almirante:
Pra poder formar no samba // To be able to join in the samba
Para entrar na batucada // To be part of the batucada
Fabriquei o meu pandeiro // I produced my pandeiro
Com lata de goiabada. // From a can of goiabada

Noel Rosa:
Sai do meio do brinquedo, // Get out of the middle of the game
Não se meta, dona Irene, // Keep away, Dona Irene
Porque fiz o meu pandeiro // Cause I made my pandeiro
De lata de querosene // From a can of kerosine

Alvinho:
Ando bem desinfetado, // I’m well disinfected these days
Só porque, minha menina // Just because, my gal,
O meu tamborim foi feito // My tamborim was made
De lata de creolina // From a can of creolin

João de Barro:
Escuta bem, minha gente // Listen here, folk
Repara bem pelo som // Pay close attention to the sound
E depois vocês me digam // And then tell me
Se meu instrumento [um penico] é bom // If my instrument [a bedpan] is good


“Eu Vou Pra Vila” by Noel Rosa, released by Bando de Tangarás, January 1931

Não tenho medo de bamba // I’m not afraid of bambas 
Na roda de samba // In the roda de samba
Eu sou bacharel // I’m a diplomate
(Sou bacharel) // I’m a diplomate
Andando pela batucada // Drifting through the batucada
Onde eu vi gente levada // Where I saw spirited folks
Foi lá em Vila Isabel… // Was out in Vila Isabel

Na Pavuna tem turuna // In Pavuna, you’ve got brutes
Na Gamboa gente boa // In Gamboa, good people
Eu vou pra Vila // I’m going to the Vila
Aonde o samba é da coroa // Where the samba’s fit for royalty
Já saí de Piedade // I left Piedade
Já mudei de Cascadura // I moved away from Cascadura
Eu vou pra Vila // I’m on my way to the Vila
Pois quem é bom não se mistura // Cause noble folk don’t intermingle

Quando eu me formei no samba // When I graduated in samba
Recebi uma medalha // I received a medal
Eu vou pra Vila // I’m going out to the Vila
Pro samba do chapéu de palha. // For samba on a straw hat
A polícia em toda a zona // The police throughout the region
Proibiu a batucada // Banned the batucada
Eu vou pra Vila // I’m going out to the Vila
Onde a polícia é camarada // Where the police are pals


Commentary


Bando De Tangarás.jpg

 

InstrumentsFirst a few notes about the translation: As far as I’ve been able to find out, gente ‘reiuna’ was slang at the time for soldiers of the military police, “reuina” being the boot that they wore.  So the fact that the samba in Pavuna fills up with “gente reiuna” isn’t a good thing.

Bamba is a common word in Brazilian Portuguese to refer to “virtuosos of samba,” and is believed to derive from the Kimbundu word mbamba: preeminence. Batucada, which appears throughout these songs, refers to the act of drumming, and the word batuque was used in both Portuguese colonial Africa and Brazil to refer, often derogatorily, to African drumming and accompanying dances. In the 1930s, beginning with the 1930 hit “Na Pavuna,”  and “Já Andei” (Pixinguinha, João da Bahiana and Donga, 1932), batucada took on new meaning, referring to this style of samba, which incorporated the percussion instruments typical of Rio’s nascent samba schools (some pictured left).

Recording technicians in Rio’s studios — a German, in the case of “Na Pavuna” — were dubious of these instruments, believing their sounds wouldn’t transfer well to wax and would just muddy up the recording. “Na Pavuna” proved this notion unfounded, and thus paved the way for the professionalization of percussionists as recording artists in Rio de Janeiro, including tremendous talents like João da Baiana, Alcebíades Barcelos, Armando Marçal, Raul Marques, Ministro da Cuíca, and others.

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In this note in Rio’s Gazeta de Notícias from Tuesday, 4 February 1930, the author joyfully describes a group of pre-Carnaval revelers gathered around his home, one of whom handed him an envelope with the lyrics from the samba “Na Pavuna” by “Candoca da Anunciação” (Homero Dornelas’s pseudonym)
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Almirante (Henrique Foréis Domingues, 1908 – 1980) was a fundamental figure to 20th century Brazilian popular music: a composer and singer of resounding success, and a researcher and collector of items of immeasurable value to the memory of Brazilian popular music during a time when scant attention was paid to preservation and documentation of  popular music.

And actually, according to the Bando de Tangarás’s front man, Almirante, one of the reasons the group decided to record “Na Pavuna” was because they thought it would work well with these percussion instruments in the studio, an experiment they’d been hoping to try out. Almirante recalled that their friend Homero Dornelas invited the group to his house in Vila Isabel to hear the samba he’d composed, which he beat out for them on the piano (he was a cellist); in spite of Homero’s graceless piano playing, the Tangarás saw potential in the song. Almirante composed the verses for the second part, and they brought it to record at Odeon/Parlophon.

Funnily enough, Parlophon, against Almirante’s wishes, released “Na Pavuna” not as a samba but as a “Choro de rua de Carnaval” (Carnaval street choro), demonstrating how arbitrary genre classification was at the time.

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Lyrics for “Na Pavuna” published in Diário Carioca – 21 January 1930

“Na Pavuna” is the first example of a recorded reference to a “school for samba.” And just as it pioneered the use of surdos, omelê, tamborim, cuícas (friction drum) and reco-recos in the recording studio, “Na Pavuna” also inspired a series of sambas about neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. Shortly after the release of the wildly popular song, Jota Machado released “Na Gamboa,” which began in a nearly identical fashion: “Na Gamboa, Na Gamboa / Tem macumba que só entra gente boa” [In Gamboa, in Gamboa, there’s a macumba where only good people get in] and J. Rezende’s samba for the Carnaval society Clube Tenentes do Diabo that year, “Canja de bode,” began “No bairro de Catumby/ Tem cigana de pagode” [In the neighborhood of Catumby/ There’re pagode gypsies], and went on to mention Largo do Machado and Leblon. Other examples include “Em Deodoro” (Mário Paulo, 1934), and “Isso Não Se Atura,” by Assis Valente, released by Carmen Miranda in 1934: “Lá em Cascadura/ isso não se atura.”

And in turn, Noel Rosa composed “Eu vou pra Vila,” his tribute to Vila Isabel, making reference in the lyrics to both “Na Pavuna” and “Na Gamboa.”

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Jornal do Brasil, 20 March 1928 – Conjunto Flor do Tempo announced as entertainment for a benefit party for the Pavilhão dos Tuberculosos organized by the União de Senhoras do Hospital Evengelico.

Almirante remarked years later that he was surprised when Noel presented the samba to him, saying he’d underestimated Noel’s ability to compose.  Noel was just starting out in his short but inimitable musical career, and played a largely background role with Bando de Tangarás. He was the last member to join the band:

History of Bando de Tangarás
 In 1928, Braguinha (Carlos Alberto Ferreira Braga, alternatively known by his pseudonym João de Barro) and his talented classmates Henrique Brito and Álvaro “Alvinho” de Miranda Ribeiro had organized with several other students from Tijuca’s Colégio Batista as the Conjunto Flor do Tempo. One day Braguinha invited Almirante –so nicknamed from his time as a Navy reservist — to their rehearsal. Braguinha had been impressed by Almirante’s musical prowess when he’d seen him in Carnaval blocos, and at the rehearsal Almirante showed off his clear superiority on pandeiro (as he recalled, their pandeirista had no rhythm) and his powerful voice, with a vast repertoire of songs. They snatched him up and he quickly took on a role as leader.

When the group received an invitation for a recording audition with Odeon/Parlophon, Almirante suggested sending only their four top talents — himself, Braguinha, Alvinho and Brito — to have a better chance at commercial success.  But they still wanted another stringed instrument, so they invited their shy young guitar-playing neighbor in Vila Isabel, Noel Rosa, whom Almirante had first met in 1923.

Since they’d changed the group’s make-up, they decided to change the name. Braguinha, enchanted by a tale he’d heard of Tangarás birds gathering in circles of five to dance and sing in the Brazilian rainforest, suggested they call themselves Bando de Tangarás. He also  suggested they each take the name of a bird, but only his stuck: João de Barro.

In mid-1929, when Bando de Tangarás recorded their first two songs with Odeon/Parlophon, Noel was a timid boy of just nineteen. Many in his milieu looked askance at his hobnobbing with the malandros of Vila Isabel, and Almirante, two years his elder, was decidedly the leader of the pack. These elements might help explain why Noel’s tremendous talent as a composer was initially overlooked, and Bando de Tangarás only recorded the first of Noel’s compositions, “Eu vou pra Vila,” in August 1930, over a year after their first recording.  That song has endured as one of Noel’s greatest tributes to his neighborhood and his relationship with his city.

“Lataria”: In their biography of Noel Rosa, João Máximo and Carlos Didier relate that shortly after recording “Na Pavuna,” Almirante and Braguinha found themselves on the streetcar from Vila Isabel to Rua Almirante Barroso wondering what to record on side B of Braguinha’s “Mulata.” They began to joke around about recording on whatever cans they found upon arriving downtown, and composed a refrain on the streetcar, using the melody from the first samba Almirante had composed, several years earlier: Já que não temos pandeiro / para fazer nossa batucada / todo mundo vai batendo / na lata velha e toda enferrujada. They’d give each member of Bando de Tangarás a can to bang on and sing a verse about. Pleased with their plan, the pair presented it to Eduardo Souto, artistic director of Casa Edison, who was so delighted that he joined in on the recording.

The musicians improvised the verses in the studio, with the help of Noel, one of Brazilian music’s greatest improvisers.  Only Henrique Brito was left off, since, according to Almirante, he couldn’t stop laughing when it was his turn to record, and ruined several takes of the song. And they were all really playing on the cans they mentioned; João de Barro, in his verse, left to the imagination the detail that he was playing on a bedpan.

Not surprisingly, considering its relatively well-heeled make-up, Bando de Tangarás was an important agent for samba, nudging Rio’s middle-class toward embracing the genre. The decision to bring percussionists onto the the recording of “Na Pavuna” was crucial in strengthening ties between the Tangarás and sambistas from Rio’s morros. In the following years, Noel Rosa earned his lasting reputation as one of the most important figures in uniting “morro and asphalt” in 1930s Rio de Janeiro.

The Bando de Tangarás recorded together for the last time in May 1933. Between 1929 and 1933 they appear on 38 albums, 73 tracks, most of which were composed by Almirante. Here’s a short video that shows the rising stars, beginning around minute 7:00:

 

 Sources for this post: Noel Rosa, uma biografia by João Máximo and Carlos Didier; No Tempo de Almirante: uma história do Radio e da MPB by Sérgio Cabral; Yes, nós temos Braguinha by Jairo Severiano; Dicionário da História Social do Samba by Nei Lopes and Luiz Antonio Simas; and conversations with Jairo Severiano.

Quero voltar pra Bahia (I want to go back to Bahia)

Lyrics from “Quero Voltar Pra Bahia (I Want To Go Back To Bahia)” by Paulo Diniz/Odibar (1970)

I don’t want to stay here
I wanna to go back to Bahia

Eu tenho andado tão só // I’ve been so alone lately
Quem me olha nem me vê // People look at me and don’t even see me
Silêncio em meu violão // My guitar’s fallen silent
Nem eu mesmo sei por qu. // And I don’t even know why
De repente ficou frio // It suddenly grew cold
Eu não vim aqui para ser feliz // I didn’t come here to be happy
Cadê o meu sol dourado? // Where’s my golden sun?
Cadê as coisas do meu país? // Where are the things from my country?

I don’t want to stay here
I wanna to go back to Bahia.

Eu tenho andado tão só // I’ve been so alone lately
Quem me olha nem me vê// People look at me and don’t even see me
Silêncio em meu violão // My guitar’s fallen silent
Nem eu mesmo sei por que // And I don’t even know why
Via Intelsat eu mando // Via Intelsat, I send
Notícias minhas para “O Pasquim” // News of myself to “O Pasquim”
Beijos pra minha amada // Kisses to my love
Que tem saudades e pensa em mim // Who misses me and pines over me

I don’t want to stay here
I wanna to go back to Bahia.

— Commentary —

1970-paulo-diniz_quero-voltar-para-bahia

This 1970 soul sensation was inspired by Caetano Veloso, who was depressed in exile in London at the time. Legions of fans embraced it as an anthem pleading for Caetano’s return to Brazil.

seja-marginal
Caetano and Gil displayed the image 

As the song exploded, Brazil was living through the direct aftermath of decree Ato Institucional V (AI-5), issued on 13 December 1968, which shut down the national Congress, abolished habeas corpus, and essentially opened the path for Brazil’s military regime to expand its systematic repression, censorship, and persecution of anyone perceived as a leftist sympathizer or societal provocateur. That same month, Caetano and Gil were arrested, ostensibly for having featured tropicalist artist Helio Oiticica’s image of a marginal — representing 23-year-old Cara de Cavaloshot dead two months earlier by a Rio police death squad — with the caption “Be an outlaw, be a hero!” in a December 1968 show in Rio de Janeiro.

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Caetano in London, c. 1970.

The two were thrown in jail for two months, placed on house arrest for four more, and then forced into exile in 1969.  Caetano missed Brazil tremendously; he has called his 1971 album recorded in London “a document of depression.” (For more on this period, see “Back in Bahia” [Gilberto Gil, 1972]; “Panis et Circenses” [1968] and “Expresso 2222” [Gilberto Gil, 1972].)

As Brazil plunged into the AI-5-era known as the anos de chumbo (years of lead), Paulo Diniz released this song, infused with his strong northeastern accent and Caribbean sounds, providing a perfect example of the new twists that Brazilians brought to soul music, inspired by 60’s R&B, Motown and James Brown’s funk.

Pasquim, mentioned in the song, was a leftist magazine with a weekly circulation of about 200,000, established in 1969 as an outlet of resistance against the military dictatorship.

Main source for this post: Vale Tudo: Tim Maia, by Nelson Motta

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.

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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

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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.

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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”

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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