A Palavra Forte

About 15 years ago I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in Brazil, one week in Rio, another traveling inland. Many of the sights, tastes and smells of that country remain as strong memories, but something more tangible came out that trip. While watching TV, and not understanding a word, a music video came on briefly featuring a pretty woman singer and a beguiling acoustic guitar driven melody. I saw it only once, and did not get the name, but only a very fleeting glimpse of the album cover from which it came.

Later on during that trip I spent some time in a record store (and who knows what treasures I passed up through ignorance). But I did find that same CD, and bought it.

It was an album called Tudo e Permitado by a band called Kid Abelha. I had never heard of them. The first track was indeed – I believe, for I cannot be totally sure – the same as the song I heard on the music video. It became one of my favorite songs of all time, and has remained so, even though I am not sure just what “A Palavra Forte” means, nor indeed any of the lyrics.

None of this matters. The melody, sung by the beguiling Paula Toller, is among the most beautiful and well-realised popular song tunes that I have heard, or am ever likely to hear. Recognizably conventional within the stylistic restraints of a pop song, but unique nonetheless.

The chance events that led me this song are so tenuous and unlikely that I tend to gasp every time I play it. Just a few minutes out of syncronization, and I would have never heard it (or what I thought was it) and I would have never grasped just enough visual information to lead me to the record.

In one respect I was fortunate. Kid Abelha, although essentially unknown in the United States, is one of the most popular and celebrated pop bands in Brazil so actually finding the record in a record store was not that improbable.

But it really make me wonder – how many other completely fabulous pieces of music pass me by, unheard? It scarcely bears thinking about.

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