Lonely, relaxed, and fueled by indignation. Much like the unlikely fusion of these characteristics, Caetano Veloso has been noted as one of the founders of Tropicalismo--a blend between traditional Brazilian music with American rock 'n' roll. In “You Don’t Know Me”, Veloso showcases his Tropicalismo style, all while expressing appreciation of his home country even after being exiled by the government.
The sudden alternations between featherlight verses and heavy choruses feel like the stages of sky during a Florida summer. The soft movement of a white cloud can quickly transition into a lightning storm. You can see the bolts from hundreds of miles away. This song was released right after Veloso was allowed back into Brazil after being forced to move to London for two years during a military dictatorship. The conflicting feelings towards his home country are apparent, as he speaks of it with both anger and reverence in his native tongue.
Veloso was an enigmatic figure at that time not only for his political activism, but also for his sexual stage presence and androgynous personal style. He was outcasted by his peers, and then deported to a completely opposite continent. The distance in this song is palpable. He notes, “London felt dark, and I felt far away from myself.”
Veloso released Transa in 1972 once returning to Brazil, which was met with worldwide success. He has received more Grammys than any other Brazilian performer, and for good reason. The continuation of his writing has led to a fruitful career, proving that recognition comes to those who stay true to themselves through the storms.
By Katryn Macko