Tom Zé opens
Singer and songwriter Tom Zé in his apartment in Perdizes, in the west of São Paulo. Photo: Luiza Sigulem

The month of August, the month of disgust in the popular imagination, opened the 2009 season in São Paulo, challenging the power of this superstitious nonsense. On the stages of Teatro Fecap, Tom Zé, from Bahia, with his irreverence and incredible ability to stimulate the audience, to set up games, to instigate and give wings to the imagination, has spent nearly five decades in his career. The final balance of such an undertaking would never combine with something bitter like heartbreak. There were four shows, directed by Charles Gavin and Oscar Rodrigues Alves, which will be recorded in a new CD to be released by Biscoito Fino and a DVD, which will be broadcast as a special by Canal Brasil, both entitled Retrospective – Career Backbone and with launch and premiere on the channel schedule scheduled for November. Gavin, who has played the role of a true titan in defending the memory of Brazilian music by rescuing from total ostracism the work of people of the stature of Tom Zé, such as Sérgio Sampaio, Gerson King Combo, Os Cobras, União Black, Quinteto Ternura and a number of other great artists, reiterated, in a press release, the importance of the project: “Tom Zé will do a retrospective of his work, something he has rarely done in his career. He will play, with his band, songs from very important albums such as big sale (1968) If the case is crying (1972) all eyes (1973), the superclassic studying samba (1975) and songs from his more recent work, studying bossa (2008)”. The ephemeris, in fact, deserves celebration, and, despite some scheduling complications, because the news arrives in the tumultuous days of returning from vacation, we found Tom for a delicious morning of good conversations and unforeseen situations.

1st Act - The Juca Chaves of the poor 

Tom Zé is one of those rare individuals who, throughout his life, have developed a keen ability to put down roots and establish bonds with the things that surround him. He has lived on the same street in the neighborhood of Perdizes, in São Paulo, for more than three decades, during which time he was always by the side of his brave and serene companion, Neusa, who, perhaps, surrendered by the impossibility of getting involved with the playful game and instigator of her husband, always supported him, unconditionally, and was decisive in helping to build this mythical figure that is Tom, Antônio José. He welcomes us offering chairs, asks us to make ourselves comfortable, goes to the window, observes the day and points to the huge facade of the building opposite, where he willingly takes care of a beautiful garden that appears full, the thing 15 m below ours. eyes. Tom comments that he arrived in the neighborhood when he lived in that same building opposite, starting in 1973 and after a few years of living with Neusa on Angélica Avenue, which, according to him, sang in Augusta, Angelica and Consolation, it smelled like a doctor's office.

The cold this morning is quite severe and he recalls that, in the early 1950s, the building was built facing the daily route of the sun precisely to make the most of it, because São Paulo was regularly very cold half the year. . Tom observes that the weather conditions in the city have changed considerably and remembers that dealing with the sun that was already burning intensely in the window at six in the morning, and that left only at eight at night, became unbearable. It was the cue to cross to the other side of the street.

It is evident that the São Paulo sung by him changed in many other aspects, but it is possible to suspect that Tom learned to love it with all its great contradictions, dilemmas and complexities, because, since always, he was careful to interpret it and redeem itself from its aridity of concrete in unusual songs, such as the hilarious The feud between the Edifício Itália and the Hilton Hotel. Even with great difficulty, as when he lived almost two decades of complete ostracism, he did not hesitate to insert himself deeply into the metropolis that received him, full of possibilities, and that helped him to shape his incredible artistic character. Tom is a guy who, for example, defends Rua Santa Ifigênia, a popular shopping area for electronic components, computers and musical instruments, in the heart of São Paulo, as a sacred place. Symbol of the ability of Brazilians to dodge adversity, and a fundamental point to make possible the creation of their instruments, such as the enceroscope, made from mechanical brushes from polishers, and the frequent purchases of components, often requested with surprise at store counters. : “But what do you want this for? That's a television broadcast tower piece!” he recalls smiling.

About the experience in the metropolis, I rescue a subject that is commented by him in a text entitled Sao Paulo's birthday. Tom remembers the episode, lived with Gal Costa, in 1965, when he came to the city to be part of the show. Arena Canta Bahia, by Augusto Boal, accompanied by his friends Gal, Bethânia, Gil and Caetano: “Gal and I, we had a somewhat troubled relationship. The day she asked me out was a party, because I didn't even have the right to ask her out. She said, 'Tom, let's go shopping in town?' He was wearing cashmere slacks, like those 1940s Hollywood movie pants, and I'm with Gal, on the street, and everybody's making fun of her, so I said, 'Gee, I'm a really shitty man, aren't I? ? I'm already shy as hell, so I'm here with the girl and everyone plays with her?!'. Gal wasn't known, she wasn't even Gal Costa, yet, she was Gracinha. After a lot of suffering, a lady had the charity to call us at the back of a store and say: 'My daughter, a straight girl, she doesn't wear long pants in São Paulo. Anyone wearing long pants in São Paulo is a prostitute!'. That's when we understood everything.”

The story relaxes, and Tom's satirical side slowly warms up and starts to spark. As early as 1958, in his first television appearance, he showed his delightful irreverence. In the program Ladder to Success, prime time on TV Itapoã, in Salvador, he enters and defends one of his first songs, mockingly entitled Ramp to Failure. Alongside his friend Capinam, Tom composed small protest themes for the CPC (Centro Popular de Cultura), in Salvador, and, for that same debauchery, he was called “Juca Chaves dos Pobres” in the pages of the newspaper. Diário de Notícias. Controversial and sagacious, he was an important collaborator and theorist of Tropicália, a movement led by his friends Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, which, for a brief period, turned upside down the musical, political and behavioral conventions of a country that was experiencing the great contradiction of to be open to a new world, of urgent appeals, under the ostensible vigil of the military in power and the very heavy bar of the Unconstitutional Act number 5.

Despite playing the role of the most influential in the field of music theory in the group, thanks to the seven years he studied with conductors HJ Koellreutter and Ernst Widmer, icons of the radical revolution proposed by Dean Edgar Santos at the Federal University of Bahia, in those early days of the decade 1960, Tom, when recalling the period, says he doesn't see much affinity in the things he did with the things produced by Caetano and Gil. He made use, he says, of tools he learned to manipulate since childhood, in Irará, when he dealt with prejudices and a total lack of empathy with his music, a challenge that made him create ways out of the unfeasibility imposed by others: “Let me see if I give you an idea of ​​what happened in the beginning. I was looking for something to hold on to in the world, this is the first engine, it's the starting point, and music wasn't something that was very evident, there was nothing like saying: 'At eight years old, he showed his vocation!'. It was a case of saying: 'At the age of eight, he showed that he didn't have the slightest vocation for music'. I made a type of music in Irará that was the following, I was going to talk about your work, the clothes you are wearing, the way you paint yourself, the objects you use, how you felt, immediately identified as a character within the song and unable to see that I was not a singer, as if I deceived you. My songs were made to keep the listener from finding out I wasn't a singer. I started making music that you immediately started to think, for example, that when I said 'Guilherme se requebra', you were already a character in the song”.

Everton, Tom's father, seems to have carried in his genes the same luck as his son in having his life transformed by the force of chance. It was the 1920s and Éverton held his father's estate, which, following the tradition of the Bahian hinterland, had been buried in a pot that contained the pounds sterling that added up to the patriarch's entire inheritance. The youngest of a family victimized by several health problems, without any brothers, the first to plead for the division were second and third cousins. Tired of dealing with so many of those who appeared to defend kinship and the right to pounds, Everton decided to summon all the suitors in a neutral place, to put an end to the question of sharing. He got out of there with a ridiculous amount, but already on the street he found a federal lottery ticket salesman who insisted on selling a hundred 459 and, potato, a hundred 459 on his head. Overnight, from the condition of great deprivation, he became a renowned merchant and emerging in the society of Irará, joining the Santana family, one of the most traditional and with several members sympathizing with communism.

Nephew of Fernando Santana, leader of the UNE and future secretary general of the Communist Party in Salvador, Tom lived surrounded by information and conflicting views of the world. Observing the cult processes of his uncles and the language of the people who circulated through his father's fabric store in Irará, he became a polyglot of life. He even came to face the prejudice of people who said that “the son of a rich man” – where he well points out: “In Irará there were no rich people, there were poor people who were well off” – he could not study music, that this was something for the poor. Without ever joining the Communist Party, but influenced by his uncle, he went to study in Salvador and joined the CPC, with a strong youthful appeal, alongside his friend and poet José Carlos Capinam, director of the CPC's musical nucleus. At the same time, Tom dedicated himself to studies at UFB, a fact that resulted in his joining the university’s faculty years later: “When we were younger, we couldn’t help but be leftists, but I was never part of the party, not because he thought the party was unworthy. I didn't belong to the party because I didn't feel like going, but I have to say that when I was music director at the CPC, I was there thanks to Nemésio Salles, who had been the party's general secretary, and that when I had a disagreement at my uncle's house and was going to return to Irará, convinced me to stay in Salvador. I owe the fact that I am here today, thanks to Nemésio Salles, who allowed me to stay. And it was the Communist Party, the old party, that paid me to stay in those days. I owe this debt to him. I was the music director at the CPC and with these thirty cruzeiros a month I paid my share of Nemésio's apartment, which he shared with me, José Alberto Bandeira, who was the general secretary at the time, and filmmaker Geraldo Fidélis Sarno. We were the inhabitants of this apartment, which was the first place invaded when the 1964 coup broke out”.

Although he defends a non-partisan stance, Tom is a citizen of full political convictions and takes a stand, without reservations, when he defends his points of view. When we embarked on ideological issues that limited the daily lives of young people with a dedicated degree of participation, like him, Tom recalls a magazine cover of the period and begins to discuss a subject that leads to the political chronicle of today: “I remember from the cover of an issue of Brazilian Civilization Magazine with a man with a fish being hooked, a report on artisanal fishing. Well, at that time the census itself said that the population would double and that the food production capacity also needed to double so as not to starve half of these people. The capacity of artisanal fishing would never come close to what would be necessary, it would be necessary to develop industrial fishing, the report explained, and how are we going to defend this type of bucolic Brazil that the left wants, this type of Brazil that does not open frontiers for modernity and that starves people to death. There were arguments like this, which also explain a lot why the bucolic Brazil that the left wanted could not conform to the Brazil that, in fact, Caetano and Gil introduced into people's minds, a thought that, even under the aegis of a dictatorship, was going to take Brazil to an immediate leap into the second industrial revolution. We, all our lives, were inventive people. At the time the plane was about to go up, we had a person there. The other day I was in the newspaper 'the father of the guitar died!' (guitarist Les Paul, creator of the famous eponymous guitar model). The father of the guitar is fucking dead! The father of the guitar is Osmar and Dodô, who made it long before, in Bahia. And it's good to say that Santos Dumont only has his name mentioned because France has money, he was Dumont and he was in Paris at the time. If not, the Wright brothers would be the sole owners of aviation. That was what Caetano and Gil were consciously dealing with. At the same time, was there the repressive attitude of the dictatorship? Yes! And what did the dictatorship want? Let our brains shrink, alas! I was a teacher's boyfriend and her salary was set by João Goulart, three thousand cruzeiros! Look what that meant: that people of ability were invited to be teachers, teachers, and no salary paid for that. Jango was privileging the thinking, the development of children. And what did the dictatorship do? The opposite! It completely degraded the teachers. See how they are today… Serving capitalism, in this degradation of education. This is one of the most terrible things. Why is there no education? Because the government doesn't want to, of course! The very left government that is installed in Brazil needs, for example, that the Northeast be miserable in order to be able to give it the Bolsa Família. If the Northeast stops being miserable, they won't get all those votes. It is a wonder for the government that the Northeast is the misery that it is, because they are willing to take all measures so that, for example, the Northeast cannot improve and they remain in power forever. That's what's at stake when someone messes with the nation's culture. And that's what Caetano and Gil did with conscience, knowing what they were doing”.

2nd Act - Perfumed Saudades

The arrest and exile of Caetano and Gil at the end of 1968, and the consequent dismantling of the Tropicalista group, was a difficult initial period of transition, in which each would go their own way. Gil, Caetano, Gal and Bethânia had careers of great popular appeal, while Tom remained reluctant in his beliefs, following the path that people like Jards Macalé, guitarist Lanny Gordin and other supporting characters of the tropicalist adventure would, bitterly, experience a shameful ostracism. . I ask if this rupture, in some way, also established a rupture of the old bonds of friendship that existed between them, if he still relates to these friends and if Tom thinks that, in the artistic field, even today, there is convergence between the group. He silences briefly and then builds a concise argument about what he considers his choices and the choices of others: “Look, let me tell you, I don't think we had any affinity. When we got together and got to know each other's songs, they decided that I would stay with them and we did the first show together, the second, we came here together to do tropicalismo and, on their return from Europe, after exile, they decided that everyone should go their own way. By the time I got into the whole thing, I didn't know it was going to be such a big thing, or that I was getting close to geniuses who, in fact, they are. At the time of leaving, and I already knew that, I was very sad, because it was a great loss of friendship”.

Tom Zé, Fecap show
The musician during a show directed by Charles Gavin, held at the Fecap Theater, in August 2009, in São Paulo. Photo: Disclosure

The crazy and tortuous years from 1968 to 1973 constitute the period of life and death of Tom Zé, in Tropicália. Despite the loss of collective ideals and projects, the dissolution of the group, however, opens its horizons. When he proposes new and radical paths from the album all eyes, from 1973, for example, adopts procedures and choices that result in an intricate new world of his authorial capacity. Moment in which he discovers open veins to channel all his prolificity and ability to create, a flow that runs naturally to this day, with him experiencing 72 years of accumulated experiences.

In 1979, Celso Favaretto published the book Tropicalia Allegory Joy. He didn't even mention Tom Zé's albums in the movement's discography, not even Total Settlement, considered an embryonic experiment of the anthropophagic movement. I ask him if, back in 1973, he already suspected that he would be doomed to such oblivion. Tom shuts up. Minutes earlier, on the matter of breaking friendships, he had summoned me to “get straight to the point”. He then organizes the words and puts an end to the question: “On the fifth anniversary of tropicalismo I was a tropicalista; he was part of the group, the press, the party and everything. In the tenth, as I was out of circulation, I started to be, well, just remembered. By the fifteenth, I was almost out. By the twentieth, I had completely disappeared. RCA has a compilation of early-career singles from the entire group (I came from Bahia), and there you can already see that I do something completely different. They were 'bossanovistas'. So, we've been apart for a long time. But I, on the contrary, made a little effort from the moment I started singing with them, in shows in Bahia, at the Vila Velha Theater, on my first, second and third albums. I made a great effort, to get what I produced, which was not called 'music', in the appeal of popular music. I went to Bahia newspaper hand in my last article and, by chance, when I went up to the newsroom, I was told: 'Caetano is there, on the third floor'. I approached him and said: 'Caetano, I miss you!'. We were really companions and friends. And he said, 'Oh, Tom, where are you? I've already told you that here in Bahia you're only going to get annoyed, bug. In São Paulo you can get bored too, but something could happen'. As I had money, I took the plane and came here. On this very day of my arrival, he introduced me to the Sgt. Pepper's of the Beatles, translating song by song, because he knew I couldn't fucking understand English. In the evening of the same day, he took me to see the king of sailing and I was convinced that I should really come here. People would say to me, 'How can you be involved with them? They are artists, you are a troglodyte!' That time was one of the best in my life.”

Act 3 – Epic Complex / Ramp to Failure

The 1970s confirm the election of certain myths and meanders massively consolidated in the statute signed by MPB and, as their tropicalismo peers became demigods of this new Olympus, inheriting very early the status that everyone's hero, João Gilberto, took nearly a decade to experiment, Tom has been going the other way. He invested more and more in language experiments and in the production of alternative instruments, created from industrial waste, such as gears for polishers, mechanisms for cake mixers, washing machines and car horns, scraps that, thanks to his ingenuity, , gained musical resolution and had their functionality expanded in historic albums in their discography, such as, for example, Correios Estação do BrásOf 1978.

In interview with the program Live Wheel from TV Cultura, in 1993, Tom recalls that he even sold a property on the beach to invest in the construction of these instruments he invented and, thus, defined himself, in the same interview, as incapable of strategizing procedures. Despite treading an anti-commercial path that would lead him to obscurity, Tom strongly argues that there was no market resistance, misunderstanding or anything that could be interpreted as a reason for his failure, nothing that was not within himself.

Cover of the albums “Grande Liquidação” (1968) and “Todos os Olhos” (1973), two classics of Tom's discography. Photo: Disclosure

“When you're not touched, in Brazil, there's something to say that you're a victim of mass culture, but since I'm not a victim, I went to work at home. I wasn't called to work on the street, I wasn't called to an interview, I wasn't called to shit. So, I went home to work. Perhaps what made me work the most during this time of ostracism was the fact that I argued that complaining was not my motto. I don't like to complain. I prefer to blame myself. I made these instruments in 1978 and, ten years later, the Goethe Institute called the Brazilian press, magazines such as Veja, to go and see some American bands that were producing music with electrical instruments, and it was the same headline in Folha de São Paulo, State of Sao Paulo. But then a writer from Veja wrote, with his own stamp: 'The Goethe Institute invited us to see some American bands that use work instruments or kitchen instruments and such. Look, there's nothing new about it, especially, doing what Tom Zé did, in 1978, and which was already much better. I was 15 years old when he presented his instruments at GV', said the reporter. João Araújo, Cazuza's father, for example, wanted to help me personally, he was director of Som Livre. He had already been my producer, and I knew he had a chance for dialogue. I went to him to show him the instruments, and he let everything go the way I wanted to do it. I wanted to release it through Som Livre, I wanted to put it at the Esso festival, but then I didn't know that the label was the one who chose the artists for the festival. I was going to be 'the artist of Som Livre', but I put my hands up my legs. When I went to see it, it was no longer on the schedule. I was invited to a Channel 4 festival and I thought I wasn't supposed to participate, it was silly, and I didn't go either. So no one is to blame for anything. You kill yourself, you yourself are your own executioner.”

From this declared condition of self-sabotage, Tom plunged into a dark period of extreme seclusion and unproductivity, compounded by health problems. He begins to guide these themes, but, in a time jump, he suddenly begins to narrate the fantastic story of his resurrection to the phonographic market and to life itself, through the occasional discovery of his record studying samba, from 1975, by the American David Byrne, leader of the Talking Heads, one of the pillars of the New Wave movement, which emerged in the effervescent avant-garde of New York in the first five years of the 1970s. Yes, the transition from total anonymity to this figure celebrated in Paris, New York, London and Berlin suggests a modern fairy tale and, let's face it, has already been thoroughly explored.

I try, then, to extract from Tom something that has not been so excessively narrated about this period and he resumes his reasoning to talk about the bitter days that preceded his late redemption. “I was very sick, my stomach was a shock organ at that time. I only got good when I started doing Tai Chi Chuan. A miraculous thing. I would go there for a massage and such, an hour of half a dozen fantastic movements for the head, for the body, but I was ashamed to go to Tai Chi Chuan class. Always being ashamed… Well, the east saved me here. In 1985, I was dead. Neusa cheated. He would get up to deceive her, to say he was alive. I was dead. It didn't have any energy. Neusa, one day, said: 'Why don't we go to macrobiotics?'. For those who are dead, here or in macrobiotics, it doesn't matter. When I got there, the doctor prescribed me a week's worth of rice, and as I couldn't eat anything before, because I got sick to my stomach, rice, done right, as Neusa knew and knows how to do, was my vitamin C. After about four days my intestines started working again like they hadn't worked in many years. I didn't know my problem was that. I was already miserable. The hand couldn't even take the book because it was peeling, due to excess uric acid. All emotional problem. And, eating wrong, it got worse. So, when I started macrobiotics, after the ten days of rice, I was a different person. There was even a funny thing: I was able to experience what a hard drug is. Because rice after the sixth day, boy… Can you imagine, if your brain was one way and you spent 40 years absorbing major toxicities, products and products that start circulating in the blood and change the brain, then you start to go back to the same toxicity you had when you were six months old… Boy! It redoes, again, neural connections that you didn't know anymore, that the brain didn't know anymore and that's when you really know what a hard drug is.”

4th act - Zénial

The title of this fourth act is an allusion to the review of With manufacturing defect (1998) published in the cult French magazine Les Inrockuptibles. Tom separates several articles, organized in a clipping, and displays, smiling, pages of the New York Times, Village Voice, of the magazines Vibrations e Time-out, where they enthusiastically celebrate new releases and reissues of their discography, their frequent concerts and the partnership with the group Tortoise. Five or six pages of newspapers and magazines that can attest to the redemption of a man, from so many trials, who had to confuse a lot to clarify his importance to the unwary and be able to walk the same steps that led him to the same safe harbor where, comfortably, others are for decades. Attentive son of the oral tradition of the Northeast, Tom is verbose and persuasive. He begins to speak in a low, paused tone, enveloping the listener in a web of arguments that ties and extends with fascinating ease. At the beginning of the interview, he himself warns that Neusa always tries to regulate him, imposes closed hours, but that, however, he always exceeds his wife's chronometer. He says that he talks compulsively and bewilders the poor journalists who go to talk to him, people who, in his view, must spend hours polishing and trying to extract something objectively journalistic from what he gathers during these meetings. I disagree with Tom, and while I am concerned about completing the script I had written, I obviously knew from the start that I was dealing with an unpredictable subject. I knew that at any moment I could have my script sabotaged by Tom's compulsion, which is still a tremendous good expectation and a rare luck, since we live in a time where everything is increasingly predictable, aseptic and harmless.

We return to the current situation, the dilemmas and disagreements between the industry and the music consumer market, and we agree that, if the stimuli are provoked, the general public and those who produce music with a popular purpose will indeed want the information and the experience of the new. Some cultural events sponsored by governments from different spheres are there, precariously, to validate this thesis. I embark on the subject looking for some comment from Tom about the unfortunate episode that took place at the Virada Cultural 2009, at the Municipal Theater, in the show where he revisited his debut album Total Settlement, when there was the episode of the girl who, furious with the chaotic (dis)organization of the event, raged, cursed him and left with her back to the audience, with her middle fingers raised, right at the opening of her show. Little was said about this episode in the press in the days that followed. I remember that for a few seconds Tom and his band fell into an awkward silence and came out with a tense, energetic performance of Sao Paulo, as if to suggest that all this was part of our great contradictions. I ask him for a reading of the episode: “Glad you remembered that. The normal thing would be for me to say: 'Now I can't talk about this because the public is here, we're respecting the schedule, we're late and we have to do it'. The previous shows were delayed and consequently ours too. I was worried about this and, at the same time, having to manage the situation of abandoning a distressed person, looking like I was dismissing her complaint. How was I supposed to stop to take action with what was going on out there? Well, that's why I stood still, thoughtful. The girl later came to comment on the episode. She said that the police were mistreating people, that accredited people were not able to enter.”

The beautiful image of French actress Brigitte Bardot was the source of inspiration for the portrait on the cover of issue 26 of Brasileiros, made by the magazine's photographer, Luiza Sigulem.

Two fellow cameramen accompany us on the interview. One of them does not hesitate to interrupt us to illustrate that, two years before, there was a riot in Praça da Sé with the incident of the Racionais MCs show, an episode that, in the following years, segregated rap in Dom Pedro Park. II. Tom quickly resumes his reasoning: “That's why I say it's important for these parties to go to the outskirts, not just stay here in the center. I did my first Virada Cultural in Anhangabaú. In the second, they sent me to a CEU in the East Zone”. What about acceptance, I ask?: “Look, you have to make a certain calculation. Wherever you go, things will always be different. You go to the Municipal and you know you won't find that same atmosphere in a show like this. It is different, but, of course, you have to take the course of things with the audience, receive feedback on the capacity of interest that the thing provokes. I even did an improvised number, which we rarely do, and it was a joy, as if the doors had opened and they were free from television, from the slavery of television, for a single night. There is no boss who wants to develop violence in people, there is no boss in charge”.

I reiterate Tom's argument by commenting that that same day, hours before, I saw a crowded Municipal Theater watch, ecstatic, Arrigo Barnabé perform Clara Crocodile in their original arrangements. Let's face it, it's not gastronomic music, easy to digest, as defined by Umberto Eco. Tom, who has already theorized about the pagode and funk carioca, seen by many as synonymous with the decadence of our music, disagrees with my observation in defense of freedom of cultural expression: “Barnabé has long been a source of pride for São Paulo, but when a thing happens here and now it is very dangerous for us to want to judge. The people must have all the freedom in the world to do what they think and what they like, whatever they want or what they can. Augusto de Campos, since the moment when Caetano, in 1965, defended in the Brazilian Civilization Magazine the resumption of the evolutionary line of Brazilian popular music from João Gilberto, Augusto and the concrete, said: 'This is the man of the people! This boy is saying something'. Do you see how smart and active these concretes were? Augusto, for example, already valued and defended even Roberto Carlos, who was the great villain at the time, right? João Gilberto says that, in 1969 or 1970, when there were the famous shows at the Paramount Theater (Bossa no Paramount), which were celebrated as 'true Brazilian popular music', he was at the door, one day, at the exit, and it was see, like someone who doesn't want anything, what happened there. People didn't even remember him, he hadn't appeared on television for almost ten years, he walked in a corner, someone asked him if he liked it and he said: 'Look, I prefer yeh-yeh-yeh than retarded jazz'. And it's true. When Roberto made his first albums of iê-iê-iê, that album on the Santos road (Roberto Carlos in Rhythm of Adventure), were things that you, when you heard, inevitably got goosebumps. 'I want everything else to go to hell' is so good that Roberto Carlos has now banned it. Don't let it touch, don't sing and don't let anyone sing!"

In the episode of the Virada Cultural show, in 2009, in São Paulo, another unusual fact was highlighted, and he says a lot about Tom Zé and his restlessness in questioning roles, statutes and protocols. Dozens of photographers were lurking at the edge of the stage, when he decided to interrupt the show to propose a fun role reversal and invited all the photographers to go on stage. From the front row he borrowed one of the cameras and began to photograph the photographers. Despite the carelessness he had with him, in the mid-1970s and throughout the 1980s, Tom has a relationship of generosity and collaboration with the press, which began to show such a late interest in him and his work as if moved by a certain feeling of guilt and need for justice. A rare thing, in this world of unattainable instant celebrities, it is fair to point out that Tom also gives total openness to his fans, who make almost daily contact and dialogue with him, through his blog.

The singer-songwriter during the International Song Festival, won by him with the composition “São São Paulo”. Photo: Publicity / Record

Tom starts to worry about the schedule as he is involved in the post-production of the new album. Late for some afternoon appointments, he needs us to let him fulfill his schedule. Minutes earlier, our photographer, Luiza Sigulem, suggests a photograph, just in her underwear, sitting, cross-legged on a stool, holding her guitar, an allusion to the famous photo of Brigitte Bardot. He immediately agrees. When we finish, Gregorio, one of the friends who filmed the interview, asks Tom for a photo with us. He consents, but when we park next to him, he makes a brief suspense and surreptitiously amends: “By the way, you can take a picture with me, yes, but only if you're wearing your underwear too!”. Yes, my friends. It was like that, with his pants down, singing Brigitte Bardot e with the feeling of a despised script and a task accomplished that we said goodbye to Tom Zé on this frigid Wednesday morning, in which the man who wrote sung press dared to leave the poor press almost naked.

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