Waters of March

A Fine Day to Salute
Hurricane Elis Regina

‘If she were still alive, Brazilian music wouldn’t be in such a bad shape.’ That’s guitar player Nathan Marques about Elis Regina, likely Brazil’s greatest singer, who’d be 72 this Friday. She died at 36 of an accidental overdose, and the country’s rich musical tradition still mourns her loss.
Most survivors of Brazil’s golden generation of songwriters and musicians, from the 1960s on, would endorse her guitarist’s stinging comment. Besides being impossibly gifted as an artist, Elis is also missed for her uncanny scouting talents, as many a career was either launched or enhanced by her renditions.
Her rise from anonymity to national stardom was meteoric. At 20, with Vinicius de Moraes and Edu Lobo‘s Arrastão, she won the TV Excelsior Festival de Música, the first of a series of festivals that took the country by storm, and revealed a new batch of interpreters that would dominate Brazilian music for years to come.
She then co-hosted with Jair Rodrigues O Fino da Bossa, and turned it into the most important music program on TV at the time. She seemed born to star in the medium, a crucial part of the young nation’s cultural integration, even as it also served well the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil between 1964 and 85.
In many cases, hers were the first recordings of composers who’d go on to become national treasuries, like Milton Nascimento, Ivan Lins, Beto Guedes, and João Bosco, beside others. Or she added considerable wattage to the work of contemporaries, like Lobo, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, and Gilberto Gil, by recording their songs.

WHEN BRAZILIAN MUSIC MATTERED
Even though they all wrote lyrics, she also helped usher an entire new lineage of lyricists. Fernando Brant, Ronaldo Bastos, Aldir Blanc, and Victor Martins, to name but few, had their urban poetry-infused words first played on the radio and performed on TV by her, in a country whose majority by now were living in big cities.
By the 1970s, Brazilian music, or MPB, had several streams of high quality output, and composers of talent to boot. As Bossa Nova entered its second decade, and Tropicália, its own maturity phase, even artists identified with purer musical idioms, such as samba and Chorinho, were registering on vinyl their arguably best work.
Thus as Tom Jobim, João Gilberto, Baden Powell, and so many others were consolidating the then most famous representative of the country’s music, Veloso, Gil, Tom Zé, and Os Mutantes, plus Buarque, Paulinho da Viola, Nascimento, and Bosco were hard at work rewriting popular music to a younger audience.
MOOD SWINGER & ADVOCATE
One of the most remarkable facts about Elis Regina’s trajectory was that she was developing her sophisticated interpretative touch while at the vanguard of all these currents. Credit must be also given to husband and partner Cesar Camargo Mariano, who contributed (more)
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The Unconfessional

Hold the I or Indulge on Us;
Agonizing Over Who’s Speaking

Now let’s talk about at least one thing we really dislike about us. That’s exactly it, this idea that using ‘us’ makes our writing more compelling, or less self-indulgent, or a bit more inclusive. It doesn’t, we knew that from the beginning, and now we’re having a hard time going back on it.
It was a conscious decision, mind you. The rationale behind it was that, since the fiction you find elsewhere on this blog is written in the first person, news stories shouldn’t have so much of a personal focus, a narrator if you’d prefer, lest not the content be taken over by the voice.
There’s no way around it, it was pitiful mistake, just like any other on this site: full of lofty ideas of making it all about the reader and not the writer, and winding up being all about the modifiers and not the subjects. Guilty as charged, there isn’t any formula to make this less than another exercise of vain righteousness.
The idea would be then to walk back into that original, and faulty, premise, if not for anything else, then for the fact that everybody hates those insufferable pretentious dopes, who like to refer to themselves in the third person. How come this became a pertinent issue is a matter of contention.
It’s also well understood how flawed such an undertaking can be, that of deconstruct a device used for over two years to basically, let’s face it, mask the real problem: we simply don’t have much stomach to keep using the I did this and I did that. Mainly because we usually don’t do either.
So, here we are, and we mean everyone who’s still with us at this point, knee-deep into a muck of pretense about form, and probably already wise to the fact that, lacking a certain knack for a good news story, there’s not much there, now is there? You, of course, will be the judge.
It was also, let’s be fair, an idea that not just seemed good at the time, but also served well the purpose of, well, repurposing the news of the day with a humorous tinge and a slight slant towards the potentially overlooked detail. After all, there wouldn’t be any point in rewriting someone’s else report.
Somewhere between that noble, albeit arguable idea, and the end result, which was the excessive use of the plural voice, a lot of common sense got lost and wasted. There isn’t any packed newsroom behind ‘us,’ Continue reading