From a while ago I became a reasonably well-known artist in some circuits, inside my country and abroad. In spite of myself, but also with my consent, certain aspects of the music I make have become more visible than others. It’s not that I want to complain. Nor could it, at a time when one of the main complaints of many people (artists included) is invisibility. Not from parts. But the total invisibility of them, and of their production. Being partly known, visible, or partly known already seems to have some advantage. Especially when you have, when you create or conquer the conditions to illuminate what already existed before, but could not be fully perceived. Or it was simply ignored.
This is what is happening to me now with the launch of De uns Tempos pra Cá, to which I surrendered with the joy and restlessness that only creative freedom makes possible. I returned Biscoito Fino’s invitation with strictly authorial songs and interpretations that could only be on this record. Nowhere else, though the songs have been around long before he was imagined. The desire to record them in this chamber format with the restless Quinteto da Paraíba is what guides the album.
10 years have passed since “Aos Vivos”, my first album. For some time now, it’s been 20 years in the Southeast for me. But even before that the disc starts. The song “Utopia”, for example, is from the early 80’s. From my time in journalism school in João Pessoa at the Federal University of Paraíba. Time of strikes and marches. As far as I can remember, it’s a sort of irresigned comment about the non-approval of direct presidential elections by the National Congress.
The melody of “Por Causa de um Ingresso do Festival Matou Roqueira, 15 years old” is even earlier: from 1983. And the title I later stole from a newspaper headline “ O Dia” about the first Rock in Rio, when passing through the capital of Rio de Janeiro in early 1985. I lived in Barra Mansa and was halfway to São Paulo. The lyrics are very recent, this year. I invited two important and fundamental influences that Paraíbanidade gave me: Elba Ramalho and Pedro Osmar. She: wild muse, retreatant, seer, uncomfortable in her northeastern nature. He: almost invisible, a multi-artist instilling restlessness and a thirst for unfettered contemporaneity in his peers for three decades.
“Pra Cinema” is a tune from the late 80s. I was already living in São Paulo at the time and studying at the Zimbo Trio school, at the invitation of the pianist Amílton Godói. The instrumental version of “Autumm Leaves” began to be born at that time, from the studies with the Argentine guitarist Conrado Paulino. The lyrics are from 2004. It was renamed “Outono Aqui”, at the suggestion of the São Paulo singer Carlos Fernando, who also corrected me about the excessive Northeastern melancholy regarding autumn.
De um Tempos pra Cá has in common with other albums of mine the fact that no song was made for the record itself. “Alcaçuz” is from 1998 and has already been recorded by Vânia Abreu. “Orangutan” is from 2000 and gave its name to a European tour. The percussionist there is my childhood friend Escurinho, a native of Pernambuco who has been living in Paraíba since he was a child. “Moer Cana”, “Por que você não vem live with me” and the title song are from 2003. The most recent song is “1 waltz p/3”, the only one in partnership, with lyrics by me on a melody by Chico Pinheiro.
“At the level of”, one of my favorites among the many partnerships between João Bosco and Aldir Blanc, I had already recorded for João Bosco’s songbook at the invitation of the late Almir Chediak. I kept “that guitar” that João liked so much and made a new voice. Beaker and her gang gave a bath with the only metals on the disc. And there it is. Last year, TV Educativa do Rio invited me to sing “Cálice”, by Gilberto Gil and Chico Buarque, in a show with songs that had problems with censorship at the time of the military dictatorship. I decided to rewrite it. It is painful to realize that this song has not lost its relevance.
Even with denser tones, it’s not melancholy that wants to speak the record. But there she is. For me it’s like he started out dark, in a damn midnight movie session. It goes through a long dawn, gradually brightens and ends up dazzled by tropical sun at midday, in a mixture of feijoada and rave. Of course, this is not the only possible reading, and this is perhaps too optimistic. It’s actually how it was born in me and then took shape, for some time now.