Today’s song works for me on so many different levels. Initially when I first heard it I didn’t think too much, it started like an ordinary laid-back folk track which I was quite impartial to, but 50 seconds in and it suddenly changes. This was a quite an unexpected, but rather pleasant surprise. I hadn’t seen this change in tempo coming, didn’t anticipate the samba beat and Latin guitar melody to fire-up the way they did, but all these things put together changed the whole song and what unfolds is really quite wonderful.
In some ways (and perhaps this added to the appeal) elements to this track reminds me of Jonathan Richman and I love the way the lyrics reflect the music. Repeated lines melodically and rhythmically chant “it’s a long way” like some trance-inducing mantra and as vocals rise, fall and travel through the soft musical landscapes, this song feels like a journey. As the layers build, words begin drift into one another, overlapping as they merge, their fusion creating a constant flow of tender, rousing sounds. It’s quite a bewitching experience if this song catches you right and now, on my fifth listen, I’m truly hooked!..and if you like it enough to stay til the end you will discover how it reverts back to the way it started, the transition is intriguing.
For anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of discovering the wonders of Brazilian composer, singer, guitarist, writer and policical activist, Caetano Veloso, I will try to give you a brief outline..not an easy feat for there is such a wealth of information out there about this prolific artist. Born in Brazil in 1942, Veloso has been performing since the 1960’s and continues to perform to this day, remaining a constant creative influence to many who follow him – Both Beck and David Byrne are big fans and have covered his music! Heavily influenced by the cool, seductive bossa nova sound of João Gilberto (a Brazilian superstar in the ’50’s) it was to be this sound that formed the foundation of Veloso’s intensely eclectic music.
In 1967 he became involved with Brazil’s hippie movement and, together with Gilberto Gil (a fellow Brazilian singer, guitarist, and songwriter also known for both his musical innovation and political activism), created a new form of pop music dubbed tropicalia. Arty and eclectic this new sound retained a bossa nova influence, adding bits and pieces of folk-rock and art-rock to a medley of loud electric guitars, poetic spoken word sections and jazz. Tropicalia began to infuence a new generation of musicians and this, in turn, sparked a change in MPB (Música popular brasileira).
In 1972 Caetano Veloso released his fourth album, Transa, which, like its predecessor, was recorded whilst he was exiled in London. The LP was listed by Rolling Stone Brazil as ‘one of the 10 best Brazilian albums in history’ and Caetano himself has labelled it as “one of my favorite records”, observing how it reached a level of musicianship he was unable to achieve on previous albums. Taken from this album comes today’s enchanting offering. It’s A Long Way is truly a beauty! Check it out above.