Bossa’n Beatles

by Patty-Lynne Herlevi

Rita Lee

Bossa’n Beatles
(Ghordomusic, 2006)

I like listening to Brazilian bossa nova throughout the year, but especially in
the summertime. And in my youth I was a rabid Beatles fan who thought everyone
would love the Beatles’ music if they would only just give it a chance.
Brazilian chanteuse Rita Lee brings us the best of both worlds together, blissed-out Beatles tunes from
rainy England of a past era and the sunny tropicana of bossa nova. On her disc,

Bossa’n Beatles
, the Fab Four’s catchy melodies and turn of phrases
marry the Girl from Ipanema’s sunny disposition and Brazilian jazz rhythms.

On her video that accompanies the CD, Lee comes off like Marlene Dietrich
with a shocking red bob and a bit of whimsy as she croons If I Fell. On the
audio portion, she sings 10 of her favorite Beatles songs, which span the
Beatles’ early to middle year repertoire, which includes songs as diverse as the
rousing I Want to Hold Your Hand to enchanting Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds.

Take a listen to the Parisian cafe version of Michelle and you might wonder
why Paul McCartney didn’t consider adding accordion on his version. The songs
have been given a jazzy makeover with piano, acoustic, electric guitar,
Brazilian percussion and accordion. She also sings 3 Beatles’ tunes in the
romantic Portuguese tongue.

Lee’s vocals echo Dietrich’s sultry vocals, restraint and seductive. She
resembles a wise matriarchal singer to the Beatles’ shaggy schoolboy meets rock
star image. If parents of a bygone era had heard Lee’s version of the Beatles, they might have fallen in
love with these rich melodies and seen past the Fab Four’s long hair and dry
British wit.

While it would be too easy to slip into a nostalgic mood listening to these old
songs, the transformation they have received on this CD actually prevents that
from happening. This fusion of 1960’s European and Brazilian pop reminds us of
the beauty of musical
expression and that a hummable melody can be transposed into almost any musical
style. The Beatles wrote universal songs with popular appeal. They wrote complex
melodies and chord progressions that only sounded simple on the surface. One
wonders what would have happened if Paul, George, John and Ringo had been born
in Rio.


Bossa’n Beatles