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Caetano Veloso--musician, filmmaker, poet, and revolutionary-was born in 1942 in Bahia, Brazil. He lives in Bahia and Rio de Janeiro.
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Caetano Veloso is one of the most important Brazilian singers and songwriters of all time. His passionate account of his life and music making, especially during the military dictatorship, is a must for anyone interested in Brazilian music, Brazilian culture and related topics. Although he may be a little verbose at times, it just reflects the way he speaks (as seen in interviews), so if it may get a little too long in certain passages, on the other hand it establishes a closeness to the reader, as if he was telling you a story sitting beside you. All in all, I definitely recommend this book.
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Comparable to Ruy Castro's frank and detailed journalistic history of the Bossa Nova, a musical movement begun in the 1950s, this autobiographical account by Caetano Veloso, co-founder of the Tropicália protest movement of the 1960s, continues the story of Brazilian music. Despite the lack of footnotes, this book is scholarly and is filled with events and persons and cultural references that would please the musicologist and historian but not the general reader. Translations always have the problem of disappointing a reader versed in the original language, but I had no problem with sentence structure and wording, even if the idioms and metaphors are different. The period in world history in which this book is set is important, for the cultural revolutions and social disruptions occurring in the United States, Paris, Prague, and China were happening to an extent in Brazil. We hippies and political radicals found ourselves in jail and so did Caetano and his colleague Gilberto Gil; indeed, they were forced into exile afterwards, with London becoming temporary home. This book describes the rise of rebellion, the musical mainstream, and the 'sins' that lead to reprisal by the military government. Throughout, I am surprised how often Caetano regards himself mediocre in talent as a musician and songwriter (compared to, for instance, João Gilberto, his pal Gil, and his sister Maria Bethânia). In short, I admit to be a special case, and, for me, the book was a worthwhile read that provided a deeper appreciation of the music and its development. Others may find the book less satisfying. Consider the caveats and your own background and interests before obtaining this book.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I read this book in portuguese, when it first came out in Brazil, and i absolutely loved it. This book is not only about Caetano Veloso and his music. Caetano Veloso has a very unique way to see people and to write about them, and in his life he had the privilege to meet some of the most important people in Brazil's cultural scene. In his book he tells us many precious stories about Chico Buarque de Hollanda, Gilberto Gil, Nara Leao, Paulinho da Viola and so many others. Some important moments of his life and also of Brazilian history are also told from a very personal point of view: stories of Caetano and Gil's prison and exile during brazilian dictatorship were specially moving to me. And then there are some fabulous stories about the beginnings of Caetano's carreer, how it all started. Caetano has such an insteresting point of view about everything, it's awesome to be able to get inside his mind, and that's how i felt reading his book. I actually ended up reading it twice. I think though, that this book can be better appreciated by people who really know brazilian music and culture well. Another reviewer mentioned that Caetano talks about lots of "obscure artists", but i don't think this is a true statement. He talks about very important people in brazilian culture, including writers, film directors and musicians. The people he mentions are very known in Brazil,and he also talks about important european and american artists. The people he mentions in his book are not obscure at all. Probably, if you know who he is talking about it makes for a much better reading experience. So, if you have a curious mind and are interested in art, music, and Brazil, this is certainly a wonderful book to read. And, like me, you may want to read it more than once...
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Songwriter Caetano Veloso is one of Brazil's most iconic artistic figures; along with Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa and others, he created the "tropicalia" movement, which reconciled the magic of bossa nova with the psychedelic splendor of '60s rock. This is an English translation of his autobiography, a densely-written, super-intellectual, but also quite charming and down-to-earth account of the "heroic years" of the tropicalia movement. Veloso gives an intimate, immensely informative account of Brazilian music, from the pre-bossa "radio singers" he grew up with to the intense ideological rivalries between the hippie-ish tropicalia artists and the left-wing party-liners of the bossa nova crowd. The book is also a memoir of life under the Brazilian military dictatorship which took power in 1964, eventually sending Veloso and Gil (and countless other artists) into political exile, while attempting to censor their work and silence their voices. The role of the artist in all aspects of life -- social, spiritual and aesthetic -- resonates throughout this book, as Veloso gives an invaluable insider's view of an artistic movement that changed the course of Brazilian culture. This book basically ends in the early 1970s... it would be great if he could follow up with a second volume exploring the growth (although some might call it decline) of Brazilian music in the decades that followed. (PS - this is the perfect companion to Ruy Guerra's similarly wonderful book, "Bossa Nova, The Sound That Seduced The World.")