Veloso’s Voice

Caetano Veloso’s voice breaks cement and hearts. Last night at the Hollywood Bowl, the Brazilian legend sang one of his oldest compositions, “Baby” (written with and made famous by Os Mutantes), in the tender falsetto and multisyllabic lilt that’s uniquely his. He can also rap, play some mean rock guitar , and do elegant gestures with his long dancer hands that end with a middle finger raised — pretty badass for a septuagenarian. I’ve been a huge fan since my Puerto Rican boyfriend made a video about me set to the song “Branquinha,” and I fell in love with that 1989 album, Estrangeiro. Like Springsteen, Veloso’s an artist aging not just gracefully but pointedly — his voice more supple, his material more risky. He’s a romantic and a rebel, who in the 1960s got jailed AND exiled for his music. Not even Pussy Riot can claim that.

Too bad much of the lame-o LA crowd suffered through Andrew Bland Bird then began exiting halfway through Caetano’s set. This is history people: One of the greatest musicians of our time — singer of  postcolonial protest love songs about tropical truths — in one of the world’s greatest venues; stop worrying about traffic for once. I do wish KCRW and the Bowl hadn’t stacked the bill and made us wait so long for the headliner. Devendra Banhart was funny and weird and sometimes charming and sometimes annoying and has a beautiful voice when he just sings. His Spanish songs sounded somewhat unnervingly tropicalia-esque, but at least he chooses great role models. It was a trilingual night under the stars. Viva Veloso!

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2 Comments

Filed under Recommended listening, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Veloso’s Voice

  1. That’s too bad about the crowd. Veloso was part of what was undoubtedly my favorite concert of all time: over twenty years ago, I had the good fortune to see him, Gilberto Gil, and Dori Caymmi (who has never been a fave of mine) make up the first half of the Bowl’s Brazilian Night lineup. The entire second half was Antonio Carlos Jobim, with vocal backup from his wife and daughters, doing all his highlights, as well as a clever new composition called “Mr. Joe Beem.” And I was in my twenties, had a box, and was with my professional volleyball player girlfriend. Heaven!

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  2. Pingback: Two Narratives Entwined: Gil and Veloso | Populism

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