How songs are made
New books reveal the work behind the scenes.
1 July 2010
Suely Mesquita (photo: Caetano Vidal)
On the face of it, Ruy Godinho and Suely Mesquita have little in common. Shes a carioca who lives in Niterói, hes a paraense who settled in Brasília. She writes creative pop songs and sings them in her rich, practiced voice (listen to Suelys second solo CD, Microswing, on her website). He produces videos and radio programs that focus on Brazils traditional musical heritage (listen to his Roda de Choro programs online).
Each in his or her own way has made and continues to make significant contributions to Brazilian culture. And each has a new book revolving around the making of songs.
Ruy Godinho just brought out the second of two volumes called Então, Foi Assim? The first volume, published in 2008 and now in its third printing, includes the background stories of 80 Brazilian songs, both new and old, accompanied by their lyrics. The second volume offers an additional 61 stories.
The idea for these volumes was born in 1997, when Godinho co-produced the music program Estação Brasil on Rádio Cultura FM in Brasília. The program included a segment called A Origem da Música, with information about the origin of songs obtained through interviews and research.
Here we find stories about tunes as old as Iara (Anacleto de Medeiros) and as contemporary as Brasil (Cazuza/Nilo Romero/George Israel); as regional as Eu Só Quero um Xodó (Dominguinhos/Anastácia) and as cosmopolitan as Lígia (Tom Jobim); as personal as Drão (Gilberto Gil) and as communal as Madureira Chorou (Carvalhinho/Júlio Monteiro).
These welcome additions to the Brazilian music lovers library require knowledge of the Portuguese language. Suely Mesquitas book, Sexo Puro: A Life In Brazilian Song, was written in English and published in the United States. Unlike the Godinho volumes, it focuses exclusively on Mesquitas own compositions, written alone or in partnership.
The narrative, beginning with autobiographical reminiscences followed by a captioned pictorial section, emerged from interviews the songwriter gave to Bob Gaulke, an American school teacher and musician who admires her work to the extent of having initiated this project, also writing and publishing the book. The prosaic storytelling only occasionally reflects glimmers of its subjects personality. Whats missing from the narrative is the creative spark so abundant in Suely Mesquitas songs. Had Suely written her own story, it might have emerged funnier, deeper, more moving. As it is, the book Sexo Puro is not likely to engage the reader who isnt already a Suely Mesquita fan.
Happily, the book comes with a compilation CD of 19 tracks, many of them either previously unreleased or difficult to obtain. Respresenting various phases of Suelys career and featuring her singing as well as that of her partners, the disc is a rich potpourri of contemporary song and a delight to the ear.
Think of it not as a book with a companion CD but as a CD wrapped in a hefty package of liner notes. Whoever buys it will enjoy not only the music but the increasingly rare luxury of reading the printed lyrics in both the original and in English translation and finding out how each song was created.
Sexo Puro: A Life in Brazilian Song
Suely Mesquita Inerviewed by Bob Gaulke
(Lesma e Lula Press; 2010)
01. Qualquer Lugar (Suely Mesquita)
02. Minha Dalva de Oliveira (Celso Fonseca/Suely Mesquita)
03. Morrer de Bem (Rodrigo Campello/Suely Mesquita)
04. Porta Aberta (Arícia Mess/Aurélio Dias/Suely Mesquita)
05. Porcelana (Kali C./Dudu Caribé/Suely Mesquita)
06. Batata (Luís Capucho/Suely Mesquita)
07. Latim (Suely Mesquita)
08. Pisca ((Zeca Baleiro/Suely Mesquita)
09. Forças de Angola (Paulo Baiano/Suely Mesquita)
Ryta de Cássia
10. TV Que Ninguém Vê (Glauco Lourenço/Suely Mesquita)
11. Castelo de Areia (Marcela Biasi/Suely Mesquita)
12. Bruxelas (Paulo Baiano/Suely Mesquita)
13. Romena (Luís Capucho/Suely Mesquita)
14. Sem Capotta (Eugenio Dale/Suely Mesquita)
Suely Mesquita & Eugenio Dale
15. Bala de Rima (Bethi Albano/Suely Mesquita)
16. Mais Música (Suely Mesquita)
17. Moderno Amor (Mário Sève/Suely Mesquita)
18. Samba de Branco (Bethi Albano/Suely Mesquita)
19. Que Qui Tu Tá; Interesse (Rodrigo Campello/Suely Mesquita)
Copyright © 2010 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.