Thursday, May 06, 2021

Let’s Look at a Couple of Classics from Sergio Mendes and Brasil ‘66

This band had several very big U.S. hits in the mid-to-late 60s. Here’s Mas Que Nada, one of the biggest.

Infectious, eh? The lyrics are in Portuguese, and I have no real idea what they’re singing about ... but it doesn’t really matter, does it? 

No it does not. 

Here’s Pretty World. 

Music is 100% a subjective experience, and for me, this is one of those songs that instantly lifts my mood. Everything about it says “happy”, from the melody to the lyrics to the percussive style and the beat, from the instruments to the production and finished product.

Yes, it’s lightweight pop entertainment. No, it’s not Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen or Bruce Springsteen delivering a deep thoughtful protest song or Dust Bowl ode to Tom Joad or some other brooding, boring and depressing “music as literature” think piece. 

That’s exactly why I like it. Even lightweight pop entertainment can be sorted into piles labeled Excellent, Mediocre, and Bad. This one goes into the Excellent pile. 

The lyrics to Pretty World:

Why don't we take a little piece of summer sky?
Hang it on a tree
For that's the way to start to make a pretty world
For you and for me

And for the sun we'll find a lemon bright balloon
You can hold the string
Oh, can't you see that little world of ours will be
The prettiest thing

We can gather rain enough for the stream
To hold our happy faces
When we want a breeze
I'll blow you a kiss or two
Take me in your arms and our little world
Will be the place of places
Nothing else to make but breakfast and love

We'll hang a little sign that just says
Paradise population two
I know together we can make a pretty world
For me and for you
For you
It's what I long to do, to do
To make a world with you

Great imagery ... “take a little piece of summer sky, hang it on a tree” ... “hang a little sign that just says Paradise population two” ... The Sun as a lemon bright balloon and you can hold the string ... “we can gather rain enough for the stream, to hold our happy faces”. 

And the phrasing on the lyrics pushes the whole thing into another dimension. 

Excellent relationship advice too, because the desire to “make a world with you” is exactly the right attitude. We have choices every day on what kind of world we are making in all of our relationships, and so we can choose to make it pretty, ugly, or various points in between. The world you make is the world you chose.

I love everything about the bossa nova influences on American music in the 50s and 60s, and wish it had taken a greater and longer-lasting hold.