Tropicália and the 1960s

Next week we will be transitioning to our final unit. Appropriately enough, the music we’ll be covering from Brazil is some of the most engaged with N. American and British trends in Rock ‘n’ Roll of the ’60s. For Monday, we’ll be reading an article on Milton Nascimento by Martha Ulhôa (available here) and some excerpts from Caetano Veloso’s memoir Tropical Truth (available here). Unlike just about everything else we have read this semester, Veloso’s writing is autobiographical; he does not attempt the kind of scholarly objectivity and instead imbues his writing with the passion of an artist forced into exile for causing a disruption. For this reason, I would like you to focus more of your attention on Tropical Truth. Important things to know about Veloso: 1) he was arrested by the Brazilian military in 1969 and, along with fellow tropicalista musician Gilberto Gil, he lived in London for three years; 2) he is one of the most famous Brazilian musicians in the world. Those two facts should help you understand Veloso’s perspective and tone in the excerpt. He writes with a voice of self-importance.

On Thursday, we at long last will discuss the 1960s in the United States. The chapter by Todd Gitlin discusses the role of music for members of Students for a Democratic Society. Gitlin is now a sociology professor at Columbia University, but he was one of the leaders of the New Left and organized some of the first major protests against the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Reading his perspective against Caetano Veloso’s makes for some interesting comparisons. Brian Ward is a professor of American History at University of Florida and specializes in the American South. His chapter analyzes the role of secularization in ’60s soul music. Since this is the second time that we are discussing the civil rights movement, I encourage you to consider how his perspective differs from Turino’s and consider the recent media spectacle surrounding Brad Paisley’s attempt to solve racism in the south.

Here is the music for Monday. I’ll post Thursday’s music after the weekend.


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