I still have not made it to Brazil -- although following Brazilian fans around Barcelona in 1982 and watching Sócrates and Falcão on the field probably qualifies me. I describe that seminal moment in my book.
Most soccer fans would list Brazil as their first or second favorite team. Well, maybe not Argentines.
I did catch some Argentina fans enjoying Brazilians dancing and playing music in the parking lot in New Jersey two summers ago. But that was before a friendly.
If it’s not the soccer, it’s the music that makes people think we have been to Brazil.
I was exploring that theme during my interview with John Schaefer, who has been producing New Sounds and now Soundcheck on WNYC-FM in New York for many years. That lovely interview was played Tuesday, June 10, after 9 PM.
Schaefer asked me to pick three songs that represent my love for soccer. For two of them, please check out Schaefer’s show or podcast. The third came directly from his show 13 years ago, when he played a “new sound” – a CD named Casa, featuring the trio, Morelenbaum2/Sakamoto, with a photo of Corcovado on the front.
You know how sometimes you hear a “new sound” and you wonder how life existed before that moment? I can trace a few albums or songs to that first ethereal experience.
Out of the ozone came Ryuichi Sakamoto, a Japanese activist-pianist, Jaques Morelenbaum, a Brazilian cellist, and Paula Morelenbaum (wife of Jaques), a singer. They recorded songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim in the house of Jobim – hence the Casa – and gave them a unique jazz/samba interpretation. I went out to Tower Records the next day and bought the CD. Been playing it ever since. The counter in my iTunes says it is my most-played album.
Omigosh, where to begin: melancholy songs of love, found and lost.
Fotografia, about a couple in a bar along the beach, ending with the Portuguese aquele beijo (that kiss) sung so insistently by Paula Morelenbaum, and then in English, with her delightful inflections.
Estrada Branca, about memories of a couple walking, walking, walking, and then her sighting the former lover “walking on my street.” When I looked up the Portuguese, the last words of the song are “death wish.” The American lyrics were quite a bit more upbeat. So it goes.
But the song I chose from Casa was Jobim’s classic Samba do Avião, once recorded by Tony Bennett as “Song of the Jet,” about flying home to Rio. It starts with Sakamoto’s rhythmic piano, incorporates Jaques Morelenbaum’s moody cello, and features Paula Morelenbaum’s soaring voice. After touchdown, there is a long jazz riff about the energy of Rio.
In musical terms, we might as well all be Brazilians. For me, it goes back to the classic Getz/Gilberto in 1963, with Astrud Gilberto singing some of Jobim’s songs, including The Girl From Ipanema. Then there was Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66. My pal Doug Logan got me hooked on Caetano Veloso doing Jobim, doing Michael Jackson. And some Brazilian friends have introduced me to Gal Costa, João Gilberto, and recently Ana Carolina e Seu Jorge. And on the classical end, the music of Villa-Lobos.
Almost forgot the writer-singer Susannah McCorkle, who sang in Portuguese, Italian and English, and totally owns the Jobim classic, "The Waters of March."
So, yes, I have been to Brazil. Will be watching – and writing about – the World Cup for this site for the next month plus, starting Thursday, from 3-6 PM, at Foley’s on W. 33 St. in Manhattan, selling my book, watching Brazil-Croatia. The iPod goes with me, Brazil only a touch away.
Here is the link for the podcast of the interview:
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see:
George Vecsey is Hofstra University's Alumnus of the Month! Read a Q&A with George here.