Tuesday April 13, 2021

A friend introduces me to Novos Baianos’s “Mistério do Planeta,” a brilliant bit of Brazilian psychedelia from 1972. After two initial listenings, I attempt the admittedly foolish task of trying to read the song’s lyrics through a Google translator. “I participate being the mystery of the planet / […] / That I pass by and be him / What is in each one.” The band’s vocalist admits to being no more than a malandro: “a street kid from Brazil.” “But I walk and always think,” he sings, “with more than one / so no one sees my bag.” We, too, are more than one. That is what we are here when we communicate via trance and song. The song is an anthem of psychic liberation. “I participate being the mystery of the planet,” sings the poet, “I’m showing how I am / And I’ll be like I can / Throwing my body to the world / Walking Everywhere.” Listening again while reading along, knowing the translation to be an imperfect one, I am awed nonetheless, both by added dimensions of meaning, and by that which is in excess of meaning: the angelic bebop scat / free indirect discourse that happens between chorus and verse.

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