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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

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  492 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Rebelling against the Elvis-based, American-imported rock scene in late '60s Brazil, Caetano Veloso suffused lyrical Brazilian folksongs with fuzz guitar, avant-jazz, and electronic music-and in doing so blew apart the status quo of Brazilian culture. Caetano and the movement he catalyzed, tropicalia, urged an adoption of personal freedom in politics, music, and lifestyle. ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 9th 2003 by Da Capo Press (first published October 23rd 1997)
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Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, bio-autobio
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.
Joshua Justice
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'll second what others have said in the reviews. This book reads like sitting down with your grandpa and hearing old stories. Caetano says he didn't go back and listen to old recordings or look at photos. It's all from memory. As a result, there's a bit of rambling, but it's mostly endearing rather than distracting. An essential read for any fan of his music or tropicalia in general.
Georgia Kirilov
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve started this book 3 times before I finished it. Every time school would start and I would have to stop, when I could embark on it again I felt like I had to begin from the start cause the narrative has such free flow you feel like you’ve lost a part of the story. Well, now I’m sad it’s over. This is one of the most mesmerizing accounts by one of my favorite human beings on earth of his experience as a Brazilian, as one of the creators of Tropicalia and as a human. Caetano’s point in not ...more
Gabriela Ramos
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Têm muitos pontos que fez me encantar imensamente com esse livro. Mas acredito que os principais seriam a forma da narração de Caetano e como ele aborda a história do tropicalismo com um panorama histórico e autobiográfico. E faz isso genuinamente, misturando a pessoalidade com a criticidade. Parece que ele está do nosso lado contando a história em uma conversa intima. Além de seu olhar sobre os acontecimentos que é bastante único, ele é daqueles que enxerga mínimo e consegue descrever sensações ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Aug 21, 2007 rated it liked it
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!
Patrícia Simões
Escrita um pouco confusa. Não fosse o meu grande interesse pelo tema, de certeza que não o teria lido até ao fim. Cheio de boas referências e histórias.
Andre Piucci
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Quando eu tinha 23 anos me aplicaram o teste de Rorachach, e o resultado, quanto a isso foi: homossexualismo latente, identificação feminina, idealização da figura da mulher."
Ana Teixeira
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Há alguns anos, Caetano e Gil fizeram alguns shows juntos. Para quem conhecia um pouco da parceria dos dois era uma oportunidade única de vê-los no mesmo palco. Eu e uma amiga fomos. Quanta beleza, quanta sintonia. Em determinado momento minha amiga me fala: “cara, se a gente já viveu coisa pra caralho, imagina esses dois?”. Imagina esses dois! Haja história. Amei acompanhar o pensamento nada linear de Caetano narrando sua visão preciosa e muito particular sobre a Tropicália. E viva a arte ...more
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
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brazilian music has long fascinated me, but I haven't spent nearly enough time listening to it. Veloso was an artist I'd encountered here and there on compilations or radio shows, and I knew he was associated with the revolutionary strain of Brazilian pop known as tropicalismo. Herein, he tells the story of how he and his contemporaries developed a version of music situated in the samba and bossa nova they loved, but which embraced influences from all over the world of pop music. More, Veloso ...more
Apr 30, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jan 04, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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 ...more
Sean Mccarrey
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: musica
un'autobiografia, un saggio sulla cultura popolare (musicale, ma anche letteraria e cinematografica) brasiliana e sulla società brasiliana e sulla situazione politica (una feroce dittatura militare) che i brasiliani vissero tra i '60 e i '70, e probabilmente anche altri tipi di libri ancora: aspettarsi da caetano veloso qualcosa di lineare a facilmente inquadrabile è inutile, la sua scrittura assorbe qualsiasi cosa esattamente come la sua musica per produrre qualcosa di magmatico e di ...more
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful first-hand account of the absolutely astounding counter-culture movement of Brazilian Tropicalia, from one of its architects who paid for the privilege in jail time and several years in exile. I learned a lot from the robust histories of samba before and some MPB after.

I have page after page marked with names of artists who'd previously slipped by my hunger for Brazilian music, and several beautiful passages to boot. And to hear Caetano consistently be a fanboy for Gil is totally
Ellen Parker
Feb 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: brazil
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
Nov 06, 2008 is currently reading it
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.

Jul 06, 2007 rated it liked it
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. A fun and important read, nonetheless.
Phil Overeem
Dec 01, 2010 marked it as to-read
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.
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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!!!
Chi Chi
Apr 08, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Tristan Alaba
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved reading this, despite not knowing Caetano or his music that well, as I'm interested in the musical movements in Brazil through his lifetime ~ pretty well written, some amazing insights, would recommend to those leaning towards reading.
I learned that rock stars, even tropicalia ones from brazil, are all pretentious all the time.
Mar 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Essential book on Tropicalia movement in Brazil.
Laura M.
Jun 07, 2012 marked it as to-read
Recommended by JM.
Edson Camara
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leia a revisão completa que fiz deste livro aqui no meu blog
Richard Donne
Brilliant, read it with Gal Costa, Os Mutantes and Caetano Veloso playing in the background. What music can and can't do.
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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" and is sometimes considered to be the Bob Dylan of Brazil. Veloso is most known for his participation in the Brazilian musical movement Tropicalismo which encompassed ...more