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Tropical Truth: A Story Of Music And Revolution In Brazil Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (October 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306812819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306812811
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 2.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #760,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Brazilian singer/songwriter most highly regarded by the First World intelligentsia, Veloso makes his U.S. publishing debut with a rambling, extremely erudite memoir focusing on his role in the late-1960s musical happening known as Tropic lia. While on the surface, Tropic lia and Veloso (often compared to Bob Dylan) paralleled the U.S. counterculture of the 1960s, the author explains the multilayered context of Brazilian politics and art that made the movement unique. From the innocence of his middle-class youth in the northern state of Bahia, to his stays in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Veloso vividly re-creates his formative years, which were immersed in French new wave cinema, progressive English rock and Brazilian letters, particularly concrete poetry. "What we wanted to do would be... closer to Godard's films," he muses. "Masculin-feminin [sic], with... its adolescent sexuality-I saw it as one more moment in our daily lives in Sao Paulo." That Veloso is well-read is not in question-he cites everyone from Wittgenstein and Proust to Deleuze and Andrew Sullivan, while at the same time introducing non-Brazilian readers to an unknown canon of authors such as poet Augusto de Campos and essayist Oswald de Andrade. If there is any complaint with the book, it is that Veloso can get caught up in a maze of sometimes unconnected ideas that obscure his lucid descriptions of the intricacies of Brazilian music and its often equally literate stars. However, this is a must for Brazilian music fans, as well as anyone interested in how the modernist age played out in South America.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Singer/songwriter Veloso has virtually defined Brazilian music for the past 35 years. In his autobiography, first published in his native country, he exhibits a rare, vibrant erudition while tracing how in the 1960s he and his friends developed a post-bossa nova music and movement called tropicalismo (Tropic…lia in English). Inspired by an impressive range of Brazilian political and cultural figures, as well as Ezra Pound, John Cage, Anton Webern, and e.e. cummings, Veloso aimed to blend his country's traditions with the best foreign influences (including Anglo-American pop) to produce a whole new sound. Paralleling this aesthetic was his opposition to political oppression from the Left or Right, and Veloso's railing against the junta led to imprisonment and a brief exile. Although the book truly fascinates, especially in its thoughtful explanation of his music in relation to Brazilian culture and politics, the English edition curiously excludes much of Veloso's activity since the mid-1970s. While this is probably because his work over the past 25 years is best known to Brazilians, American readers would have benefited from the information. That shortcoming aside, Tropical Truth is highly recommended, though Veloso's relative obscurity here probably dictates that larger academic and public libraries will find it most useful. Christopher Dunn's recent Brutality Garden: Tropic…lia and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture covers much the same material, albeit in a more scholarly voice. [This book's publication coincides with the release of Veloso's new studio album, Livro, and a two-CD collection, Live in Bahia.-Ed.]-James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, O.
--James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Even with the super-intellectual tone, this book didn't come off at all arrogant or snobby.
Thomas Stearns
I own all of caetano's cds and I really appreciate his music, but I found this book a bit too apologetic and pretentious at times.
silvia ciuchi
I am a musician who is a great admirer of Brazilian pop music and this book is a great resource and reference tool.
B. Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
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.")
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Raquel Coelho on November 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
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...
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Salty Saltillo on May 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a book that needed to be written. I am disappointed both in Caetano Veloso and in the English translation, however.

First, the translation of this book is incredibly annoying because the translator randomly decides to translate the names of some works of art into English and leaves other names in the original Portuguese. For example, I was confused by references to a movie called "Land in Anguish" until I realized Caetano was talking about Glauber Rocha's movie "Terra em Transe." Who in the world knows the movie as "Land in Anguish"? In other cases, song names were left in their originial Portuguese. Why the different treatment?

Besides the unpredictable translation, I admit that I read this book with bias. I have become disappointed and bored with the artistic directions in which Caetano has travelled since the mid-1980s. He has become increasingly self-indulgent, arrogant, and at times down-right condescending and snobby in his media presence and artistic performances, especially through the 1990s.

And so much of that sense of self-importance permeates Caetano's narrative memoir of his 50 year encounter with the Brazilian music industry... first as a fan and then as a music maker. So many events, stories, people, and performances are refracted through the lense of a narrator who feels no modesty at all. What kind of narrator would brag about having great philosophical and metaphysical insights as seven year old? Caetano does. It is interesting how Caetano remembers the origin of the name "Gal Costa." Apparently it was entirely a decision arrived by Guilherme Araujo over Caetano's objections. Over Caetano's Objections? Why does Caetano even think he had the authority to object or to speak for Maria da Gra?a Penna Burgos, either then or now.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "cogito55" on January 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is an exciting and unusual book -- it's a memoir of the life of one of the century's greatest songwriters (according to Rolling Stone), who is probably fairly unknown in the US because he sings in Portuguese. It's also a history of the 60's and 70's in Brazil, a time that included rule by military dictatorships (who imprisoned and exiled Veloso). It's also a passionate history of Brazilian music, through the lens of the tropicalia movement created by Veloso, Gilberto Gil (also imprisoned with Veloso, and recently named Minister of Culture by newly elected President Lula!), Gal Costa, Tom Ze and others. It's personal, scholarly, revealing, and will offer a glimpse into the mind and soul of a fascinating musical genius.
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