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By Juli Baldi

This content is the kind of conversation that I would have with my colleagues on the board of SIM São Paulo, having a beer in some post-meeting bar. But as this tradition for now is suspended and we can't take Zoom anymore, I will reflect here.

In the last few months we had a delicious shower of new artists, mainly from the independent scene, playing big names. Julia Mestre with Agora Só Falta Você, by Rita Lee, Moreno Veloso with Fullgás, by Marina Lima, Liniker with Barato Total, Gal, Fran and Chico Chico playing Itamar Assumpção, among others, in addition to the already established re-recordings of axé Bahian, with Gilsons and Moreno Veloso creating beautiful versions for Olodum classics and Johnny Hooker for Timbalada.

But where does this pile of re-record songs by other artists come from?

Answering my own question, it comes from where every musician starts, right, playing compositions from other bands, nothing more natural. With YouTube, many artists, even in the early stages of their careers, are discovered and get millions of views because of versions. It's risky, it can work very well, but it can also go very wrong.

I am not referring here to the performers who recorded music by other composers, but to versions, covers, re-recordings, re-readings or whatever you want to call it, of known songs that have already been successful (or not) in the voices of other artists.

The motivations can be diverse, from rescuing albums such as the Replay project that recently launched Acabou Chorare, from Novos Baianos, or the Onze project, which rescued unpublished songs by Adoniran Barbosa. The good examples are countless and it is a super common practice in our market, as well as re-recording music for movie tracks and soap operas. Another possible motivation is to go on someone's wave and consolidate an imaginary similar to that already trodden by other artists or also as a strategy for spreading and increasing the audience.

But I really like to think that the main stimulus is the passion for a certain song, the one that you listen to 10,000 times a day, that crosses you so much that there comes a time that you need to interpret with your own voice and worldview.

Versions are about affective memory, about historical rescue, about creativity and about courage.

Recently, Teago Oliveira made Esoterico a version to call his own and is another good example of a song with countless interpretations. Even Gilberto Gil, owner of the composition, has two versions of the same song on the album Um Banda Um. It's the kind of music that can even make that meme: what version of Esoteric are you in today?

Remixes and samples, within their specificities, also follow the same logic. It is impossible to forget the rescue of Belchior with the track AmarElo by Emicida or the singer Cláudia on the track Desabafo by Marcelo D2.

Another great example is Gal Costa's new album, “Gal 75”, which is a reinterpretation of his greatest hits. Listening to Negro Amor with the participation of Jorge Drexler singing in Portuguese, I found myself curious, wondering who this song was originally from. After all, I met her in the version of Engenheiros do Hawaii and researching the origin, I learned that the original is by Bob Dylan, but that Caetano Veloso made a version for Gal Costa to sing on the album Caras e Bocas. Isn't it too good to discover that? I love!

I also know how much versions can hate fans of the original music. I remember when I worked at Rádio Oi FM in Porto Alegre and I was ashamed for not knowing that None of Us Marble Astronaut was actually a Starman version of David Bowie. Imagine how much I was not mocked for that. But hey, in my day I was playing the newly recorded version of None of Us on the radio and not the original Bowie. As bad as that version may be, I assure you that half of my generation first heard the version of None of Us, and then arrived at Bowie.

What makes me think that one of the coolest things about this issue is the importance of the re-recordings so that new generations have contact with certain artists. My last discovery was by Zé Ibarra. I heard on repeat for days the Go Behind the Life that she expects You. I played on Youtube to see if there was any live video and I came across a version of Guilherme Lamounier from 1974, which doesn't even exist on Spotify… and I thought it was fantastic. (Besides being very curious to know how Zé discovered this song and why he decided to record it. Alou, Zé?) For him, I discovered a double vinyl collection pressed in Germany, with a curator without a foot or a head made by someone gringo, but with national songs and artists that I've never heard of in my life. I don't know about you, but I am thrilled with this type of discovery.

The column is not necessarily to give advice, but as I have none that can change your life anyway, I leave a question that can take you to a nice place: What song would you make a version of and why?

For inspiration, I have compiled in a playlist some of the wonderful versions recently released.

Have a nice trip 🙂 

Juli Baldi is a music researcher and creative director of Bananas Music and Festivals Map


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