Favourites. 60 years on (Wrasse Records Wrass112)
People often talk of Caetano as the Dylan of Brazil. But if this is true of anyone it is Chico Buarque. Like Dylan, Buarque took a traditional music form, the Samba Cançao (sung samba) and used it for political protest. But whilst Dylan’s protests were overt, Buarque’s were disguised – sung portraits of individuals from the masses showing how oppression infused their daily lives. ‘Pedro Pedreiro’ describes a man from the northeast waiting longingly for a train – using it as an image for
his long wait for death, or the unlikely betterment of his life. ‘A Banda’ describes the joy of Carnaval which when over gives way to the sadness and drudgery of a life in which Brazilians were banned even from singing together in bars or playing Capoeira. Copies of ‘Apesar deVoce’, dedicated to the President of Brazil, Emílio Médici, were seized in record shops and Buarque was imprisoned and exiled.
Tom Jobim once called Chico ‘a genius of the Brazilian race, a depository of popular Brazilian culture. A great poet, a great musician, a great lyricist, a great everything’. That he has not attained fame abroad is solely because of the essentially lyrical nature of his music. It is shameful that this compilation not only fails to include translations of his lyrics but even mistranslates the
titles of many of his songs. Unless you speak Portuguese the CD will sound like a selection of joyful, foot tapping sambas, which nonetheless make great listening.