Antonio Carlos Jobim – An Illuminated Man

Several years ago, I read a review of this Portuguese/Brasilian book, written by Helena Jobim, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s sister.  At that time there was no English language version. In my research, I also read an excellent article about Jobim, written by Dario Borim, a professor at Dartmouth. Eventually  I contacted him and he agreed to translate “Um Homem Iluminado”.

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  • Robert,
    Thanks for sharing that story! What was the most intriguing chapter you read in the book about Antonio Carlos Jobim? Also, if you could pick one of his songs you wish you could have recorded with him, what would it have been?
    • Robin, love your questions! You probably know Robert recorded "Aquas De Marco" by Antonio Carlos Jobim on his "Bossa Project" album. Many great tunes on "Bossa" including originals by RL. About the same time the "Bossa" album came out, so did Lenny Kravitz's "Love Revolution" album and both had songs about rain. It was fun listening to both Robert's "Send Rain" and Lenny's "I Love the Rain" and comparing and contrasting the very different musical genres.
    • Hi Alison! I love the Bossa Project! All the songs are so beautiful and heartfelt. Send Rain is one of my favorites. I will have to check out Kenny Kravitz I Love The Rain also. Thank you for your kind words.
  • This book will go on my summer reading list.. along with "Girls Like Us" which Is a biography of Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Carly Simon.
    • Stephanie, "Girls Like Us" is a great book and so is Patty Boyd's "Wonderful Tonight". I read both about the same time years back.
  • My husband and I attended an OU School of Architecture benefit dinner 3-4 years ago as the guest of Don Beck, the architect for OCU's Wanda Bass School of Music and OSU's McKnight Center for Performing Arts. Also seated with us were the Dean of OCU's School of Music Dr. Mark Parker and Professor of Music and Piano Dr. Sergio Montiero. Sergio is from Brazil and studied at the National Music School of Rio de Janeiro. I told him about your recent English translation of Helena's book and he, of course, knew Helena's original version. Wonder if he ever picked up the English translation or recommended the book to his students.
  • It is my everlasting regret that I never had the chance to meet Jobim. I eventually became friends with a contemporary of his - Marcos Valle - (thru Laudir de Oliviera) and I treasure that.

    Jobim's impact on popular music is gigantic. The sound, the harmonic sequences, and of course Jobim drew from musicians he respected to formulate his approach. Reading translations of his lyrics in both Portuguese and later in English, were evocative of his personal life, and his concerns about nature.

    • Robert, Your regret makes me wonder how many current or budding composers would love to meet you "Songwriter Hall of Fame" inductee before they no longer have the opportunity. I was surprised by your comment in an interview you gave stating that lecturing at a University was a waste of time. I know you'd rather be performing, composing or listening to music, but what was it about that experience that turned you off?
    • My "lecture" at Stanford turned out to be what I'd call a bogus class. The professor just wanted somebody with a "Name" to fill the hall. He'd get to hang out.  No real interest in either music or songwriting, or even - and this would have been a stretch - "contemporary sociology".

      I did participate in a songwriting class at NYU (Manhattan) for my friend and collaborator Philip Galdston, a few years ago, which was quite exciting (for me) ... students were engaged and there was some talent evident.

    • Inviting a songwriter of many topical songs to a sociology class could have been enlightening, if the professor and students were engaged and did their reading and listening ahead of time.

      I think some of the critics misunderstood your songs because they wanted the music they endorsed to reflect something about their identity to their peers. They were finding a place in the pecking order of the counter culture by being negative rather than actually considering what the artists were actually doing. That's my theory anyway... I think that's why decades later some music needs to be reconsidered because it wasn't treated fairly upon its release. It's interesting that Pet Sounds (51 years old today) only went platinum in the 1990s when it was reissued on CD.   

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