I'm depressed

This is my least favorite time of year. Against my better judgment, I love the holidays. The lights, the presents, the vacation days; in particular, that out-of-time week between Christmas and New Year's. I'm half-Catholic/half-Jewish, so this year was particularly acute, what with Chanukah falling where it did. I even made latkes and served them to friends next to my tree.

So. January. Christmas-tree carcasses and rain and work and nothing in sight till Memorial Day, the beginning of summer. I'm a calendar girl, I'll admit it. As much as I try to live life in the moment, I can't help but let seasons and holidays be markers for my happiness.

Am I supposed to be writing about music? I just can't do it. For that we have Alex and epic comments about Sly Stone and James' birth-year (1978) songs (my 1985 post to follow). But that's all very 2005. For now we have me in my mood, post holiday, post transit strike, post post, post post post. It's January, friends. I need you to tell me what to look forward to.

The twin occasions of the Soul Jazz label finally re-packaging the music of the Tropicalia movement into a handy single disc coupled with my remembering that I hadn't read (though quickly remedied) Tropical Truth, an excellent first-person narrative of that frightening and fantastic time in MPB (shorthand for Brazilian Pop Music) by its main mover Caetano Veloso, leads me to revisit the man. Often called the John Lennon of Tropicalia (though I think Veloso shades more towards being its Jean-Luc Godard), save that Lennon never got locked up by military police for his thought-crimes, Veloso's place in the panthenon derives only in part from his music. The book goes into painful detail about his time in prison, the censor of the press (which never once reported what happened to the pop music star), and his subsequent exile to London until 1972 along with fellow musician Gilberto Gil. All for a casual lie told by a nightclub owner, something to always keep in mind come arguments for citizen spying programs and presumed innocence.

A blip of ten or so sixties pop albums within an 18-month period that have proven themselves to be evergreen, inspiring a new generation of songsters (not limited to Talking Heads, Beck, Nirvana, DNA), justice can't really be done to Tropicalia here (unless James and Alex want to give me a few days), but all of the albums from Mutantes, Gal Costa, Gil, and Tom Ze in that window of time are most highly recommended.

To help better understand what he's up to in his native tongue, here are a few tracks of Caetano singing in English, along with relevant quotes from Tropical Truth. The diction and accent are off, sometimes intentionally so, but one can hear the type of subtle wordplay, poetry, and rhythmic nuance that Veloso brings to his muse.