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Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil
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Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  246 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Inadequately described as the John Lennon or the Bob Dylan of his country, Caetano Veloso has virtually personified Brazilian music for thirty-five years. Now, in his long-awaited memoir, he tells the heroic story of how, in the late sixties, he and a group of friends from the Northeastern state of Bahia created tropicalismo, the movement that shook Brazilian culture--and ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 24th 2002 by Knopf (first published October 23rd 1977)
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I was blown away by tropicalia, a musical movement from Brazil that took hold in the late 60s, when I first encountered it as a college radio deejay. Subversive pop music by folks who know that to be a true Beatles fan, you have to love Yoko? Sold. If you aren't aware of Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes, or peripheral players like Elis Regina, Jorge Ben, and predecessor João Gilberto, you can't go wrong with any of the available recordings (Ben's gracious Tábua De Esmeralda is one of my all-time fav ...more
Liked this book a lot, mostly for the narrative voice. It reads like a grandfather's recollections sound, if you are fortunate enough to have a grandpa as badass and brilliant as Caetano. It's riddled with digressions, super patchy and disorganized. That makes me love it more, though, in this case. The shape is very personal to the storyteller. And the story is wonderful: a nuanced musical rebellion against the military regime in Brazil, and also the knee-jerk leftist reactionaries. I feel this ...more
Veloso is an intellect. That is obvious from reading this. My hunch is that he wrote the English version himself. In any event this is most likely the definitive book on Tropicalia. that he was jailed and deported for basically writing music that the right wing disapproved of is startling. Under a repressive regime it can happen anywhere.
Jacob Wren
Caetano Veloso writes:

I remember my walk from the Solar to the movie theatre where Land in Anguish was playing. It must be said that I found the film even more uneven than Black God, White Devil. [Both films by Glauber Rocha.] The lamentations of the main character – a left-wing poet torn apart by conflicting ambitions to achieve the “absolute” and social justice – were at times frankly sub-literary. In addition, certain intolerable conventional shortcomings of Brazilian cinema – high society pa
Interesting autobiography from a key member of the tropocalia movement of Brazil in the late 60's. The majority of the book is recalling encounters with his peers, the inspirations for many of his songs; the usual stuff of an entertainer's memoir. What sets it apart are the chapters detailing his sudden and unwarranted arrest on the morning of New Year's Day, 1969. What happened? What made Veloso and tropocalia so dangerous to the military regime in control in Brazil at that time? It seems ridic ...more
Jan 31, 2007 Peter rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Brazilian music
I'll admit I didn't finish the book. Though I love what I know, I don't have a very strong knowledge of Brazilian music. Veloso tries to make the history approachable for the uninformed, but he's talking about music, mostly, so without knowing what these things SOUND like, it's all just too abstract to follow the chains of influence. This isn't helped by the writing style - I respect that he takes his subject so seriously, but it seems a bit overly academic and intellectual, and leans towards lo ...more
Caetano Veloso is a genius and his story is an important one, but alas I found this book a bit of a slog - names, dates, locations, concerts - all important to his tale, which would be far better received by a Brazilian who grew up in and around his culture. In other words, very insider-y.
Sean Mccarrey
This book was quite dense and difficult to get through at points. So coming from an American perspective I can see where others did not like it. However, to criticize Veloso for writing from his perspective is rather like to criticize him for not performing impossible magic. The ideas presented in Anthropophagy and the constructions behind a movement that presented something truly radical in the 1960s (many have presented the 60s as the penultimate in radicalism, but I find most movements of the ...more
One of the best books about creating culture I have ever read.
Ellen Parker
Hallelujah I am done with this book. I did learn a thing or two, about comtemporary history in Brazil, artistic process in music, Brazilian cinema.

The first half of the book was like a history textbook with a MIND-NUMBING amount of who's who (who was who). The part about Caetano's prison time and his release from prison was more interesting/readable, though I was glad he put it in perspective by saying that the missing persons/unjust imprisonment problem was far worse in Chile and Argentina tha
Well I love the Brazilian “tropicalia” music from the 60s and 70s – Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Jorge Ben, Caetano Veloso and the like. So it was fun to read this memoir and see what they were up to, what they thought they were up to, and the context in which their movement emerged -- from Caetano Veloso’s perspective, that is. And that's key: it's his perspective, and that perspective tends to me somewhat narcissistic and arrogant (and wow is his writing desultory). A fun and important read, nonet ...more
Nov 06, 2008 Raul is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
fascinating...kinda hard to follow for my simple mind because there are tons of references to literary figures and films but it just makes me want to check out the people he's talking about. its as much about his life as it is about the musical revolution in Brazil in the 60s-70s, and brazilian history. for anybody thats into brazilian music or curious about anything brazilian. he just also happens to be one of the biggest pop stars in history too... he has a great mind.

Phil Overeem
Digging this memoir from the very outset. Veloso, a Bahian who was at the center of Brazil's tropicalia arts revolution, wastes no time exploring the implications inherent in rock and roll and pop culture being "imperial products" for young Brazilians in the late '50s and early '60s. As incisive a writer of prose as he is a singer and writer of songs. I can't wait to read on.
Chi Chi
Caetano Veloso is one pretentious dude, and english isn't his first language. I feel like these two things really hamper what should have been an excellent book. Instead, I feel like I still can't tell you what made tropicalismo different from the rest of Brazilian music.
Caetano and his writing somehow take a fascinating subject that happened in one of the most exciting periods of recent history and turn it into a so-so book. Worth reading for the information, but a tough plow. I want to read Tom Ze's version!
You need to be Brazilian to really enjoy and understand this book! Without knowing the "characters/musicians" it's hard to get into it! But I am Brazilian so I really enjoyed, understood and got into it!!!
an interesting autobiography/ history of popular brazilian music and the political climate which helped generate bossa nova and tropicalia.
Richard Donne
Brilliant, read it with Gal Costa, Os Mutantes and Caetano Veloso playing in the background. What music can and can't do.
I learned that rock stars, even tropicalia ones from brazil, are all pretentious all the time.
Essential book on Tropicalia movement in Brazil.
Laura M.
Jun 07, 2012 Laura M. marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by JM.
É proibido proibir.
Carmelo Valone
Carmelo Valone is currently reading it
May 21, 2015
Elizabeth H Peebles
Elizabeth H Peebles marked it as to-read
May 10, 2015
Alexandre Mano
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May 02, 2015
Karin marked it as to-read
Apr 27, 2015
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Caetano Emanuel Vianna Telles Velloso (born August 7, 1942), better known as Caetano Veloso, is a composer, singer, guitarist, writer, and political activist. He has been called "one of the greatest songwriters of the century"[1] and is sometimes considered to be the Bob Dylan of Brazil.[2] Veloso is most known for his participation in the Brazilian musical movement Tropicalismo which encompassed ...more
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