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playing at being professional

Here we are, pretending to make popular songs. I’ve already done this, seriously and professionally, but in hiding and in secret. It was in ‘65, when (theater director) Augusto Boal was part of the Arena Canta Bahia with Caetano and Gil. Boal had spent six months in the backlands of Bahia with Roberto Santana, collecting folk material. The first three used this in their songwriting, making little songs about the customs of the Northeast, as well as the basis for a succinct biography of Lampião (legendary folk hero of the Northeast). From time to time, in putting it all together, they needed something to link two pieces of the mosaic.

“What a pity! Jeez! It was going so well… but it’s not working out” etc.

I would intervene:

“I think I know a verse from a children’s folk song that would be great as a link. I’ll see if I can remember it”. I’d go home, make up the “folk song”, and the next day I’d arrive at rehearsal and casually say:

“Ah, you know that link? I remembered the verses”. The verse was just right for the missing link. Everyone would celebrate and I’d say:

“Gee, you’re right, it fits like a glove!”

They never suspected that this bit of “Bahian folklore” had been made up in a São Paulo hotel room. At least they never let on. Naturally, I’d had ten years’ practice of appearing to be absent from my songs.

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