I was delighted to see this on youtube. Back in the late 1970’s I had started to develop a taste in non-anglophone music starting with some Latin American pop and then some Arabic Levantine music and Indian movie songs. Then I found the album Passaro Prohibido (Forbidden Bird) by Maria Bethânia, who I’d never heard of and bought it because… I did that type of thing (buying albums just based on a hunch).
Buying this was a gamble that paid off. Big time.
I was never bowled over by any of the pop or rock that was commonly touted as “mind-bending” but this album was like entering another musical universe and changed the way I thought about music. Some of the album seemed totally alien and compelling like the opening track As Ayabás (which I now know is devoted to female deities in Candomblé) defying western ideas of musical structure with the stark changes in mood and tempo. Others like Balada do lado sem luz (ballad of the side without light?) seemed simultaneously familiar with its similarities to American Soul Music of the early 1970s yet different in ways that were hard to pin down.
It also… intensified my interest in Brasil and Portuguese and had a few things worked out differently over the next ten years I might be writing this blog from somewhere in Brasil rather than Central/Eastern Europe (not that I’m complaining).
Reason # 3492 that I love the internet is the breathtaking scope of content for those willing to look. My vinyl copy of the album disappeared long ago but it makes me happy that I can become reacquainted with this wonderful album again now.