Jackson do Pandeiro: Regional and Pop
Rio de Janeiro - To a much greater extent than that of Gonzaga, João do Vale, Ari Lobo, etc., the music of Jackson do Pandeiro had two distinct facets. There was the regional side, with topics, situations and characters typical of the Northeast, and a side which we can call "pop", directed towards urban topics from a universe outside the Northeast, denoting a way of thinking, an "attitude", as we say today, that is more typical of an urbane and cosmopolitan culture.
Just compare, on the one hand, songs which celebrate the coco of the Northeastern beaches ("Coco do Norte") or the primitive beat of the sertão ("Êta Baião") and compare them with songs which show this same coco making its way to the sophisticated circles of Rio de Janeiro ("Coco Social") and the classic good-humored challenge of the
Northeastern David to the American Goliath ("Chiclete com Banana"). Or take a song like "Moxotó", a poetic document of the landscape and the culture of the cowboy of the sertão, and compare it with "Falso Toureiro", a completely fictional adventure where the cowboy is found in a totally unexpected sort of contest with the bull.
His good-humored satires about fierce women also come in two varieties. In "A mulher do Aníbal" (Hannibal's wife), he sings of the wild Northeastern woman who takes poor Zé do Angá (or "Zé do Hangar", in some versions) and almost beats him to death. A modern and cosmopolitan reversal of this situation is "The women who became a man", where the protagonist's wife "went to Hollywood to have an operation", and comes back saying "from now on my name is João", and "you are going to pay for everything you did to me". The first song is like the sort of roughly printed folk tale sold at the fair (literatura de cordel); the second is a comic strip.
The contrast in values between the Northeast and Rio is quite clear in another pair of songs which show the gradual "acclimatizing" of the man from Paraíba to the customs of cariocas in "Xote de Copacabana," he confesses that he is dismayed and even scandalized by what he sees on the beach: women in bikinis, etc. In "Falsa Patroa" (False Mistress), he is already sly, and coming out with typically Carioca excuses: "Chief, it wasn't my fault...it was your maid who invited me, she said it was her apartment...."
No contrast seems quite as striking, however, as that which we can see between one of those classic forrós ("Forró em Limoeiro," "Forró em Caruaru"), which describe the typical setting of the Northeastern forró, and the masterpiece by Rosil Cavalcanti, "Forró na Gafieira".
Here, the man from Paraíba goes to a dancehall in Jacarepaguá, loses his shyness, and puts on a show in the dancehall: "I picked up a mulata right way, and was dancing coco like there was no tomorrow!" The owner asks the orchestra to stop, goes to middle of the dance floor, amazed, asks the pau-de-arara to do it again, and the song closes "You may think it sound like a joke, but in the blink of an eye the dancehall became a forró!" A historic document of the cultural mixing between the Northeastern coco and the sambistas of Rio. A novel that is still waiting to be written.
Translated from the original Portuguese by Tom Moore. Tom is a classical musician and translator who lives in Rio de Janeiro. His most recent CD of trio sonatas by Boismortier is available from A Casa Estúdio.
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