Readers who are familiar with Brazilian music may have noticed that, among the super-duper big names (Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque, Tom Jobim…), the conspicuous absence in this column so far has been Milton Nascimento. Interestingly, though, he’s probably the musician on this list that I still listen to most, so to make it up for it, there will be Milton Nascimento this week *and* next week.
Miton Nascimento is the main name among the musicians originating from the state of Minas Gerais. As I’ve mentioned before, there are crucial regional differences in Brazilian music, and music from Minas Gerais is, generally speaking, yet a very different thing from music from the northeast or Rio. It tends to be more melancholic and poetic, less upbeat, although such generalizations are usually quite misleading. In the late 60s and early 70s, there was a rich music scene in Minas Gerais (in particular in the capital, Belo Horizonte), and many of the musicians of this generation worked closely together. Indeed, this collaborative enterprise gave rise in 1972 to what is perhaps the very best Brazilian album of all times, Clube da Esquina (the name also refers to the collective of artists involved in the project, among whom Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges, and literaly means 'the corner club'). It was ranked 7th in the Rolling Stone list of top 100 Brazilian albums of all times, but if you ask me, it is probably my number one.
The whole album is simply fantastic, one of those rare albums which really ‘hang together’ conceptually and yet have great individual songs. I really urge everybody to go listen to the whole thing as soon as they have the chance; some of my favorite songs are ‘Me deixa em paz’, the classic ‘Trem azul’, and ‘Cravo e canela’. However, since I have to pick just one song, it will have to be ‘Clube da esquina no 2’. The original version had no lyrics, featuring instead vocalization by Milton Nascimento, in his characteristic (and wonderful!) falsetto style. The song was then given lyrics some years later, and has since been recorded (with lyrics) by a number of artists, including Milton Nascimento himself in his 1993 album Angelus. So here are three versions of the song: the first one is the original, the second one is in the version by Flávio Venturini (another talented musician from Minas Gerais), and the third, with accompanying lyrics, an acoustic version by Milton. It seems like a lot, but believe me: you will not get enough of this song once you get started.