I’ve only personally visited about half of the locations in the previous post, since in my time here in São Paulo I’ve mostly been busy thinking about the similarities between Brazilian musician Marcos Valle (from hundreds of songs but most famously the 80s city-pop-influenced workout-obsessed Estrelar) and Portuguese musician João Sala (from the band Ganso):
(i) their names (both their first names are evangelists’, and their surnames are half equal);
(ii) their physical appearances (Valle; Sala (rightmost)): elongated faces; blue eyes; dirty blonde hair generally kept at around neck length; respectably scruffy beard and moustache;
(iii) their music (Valle, Sala), which is obviously influenced by bossa nova and MPB but also by the interpretation that 70s Japanese musicians made of those styles, most notably Hosono Haruomi starting with Tropical Dandy: seventh chords, keyboard-centric, lively but melancholic.
Which all — fine, they have common names, and many people look alike — it’s only the fact that they’re both musicians that makes the resemblance somewhat noteworthy. Plus, Valle didn’t even always look like that throughout his life and also went through several artistic phases (interestingly, Sala looks and sounds in his late twenties like Valle did in his forties), and Sala also plays in Zarco — 7 por Sala sounds more like.. Rush? that like Hosono, so we’re playing with many more degrees of freedom there.
But then — what about the freaking bicycles? Valle made a song about cycling in ’84 (Bicicleta); Sala also made one in ’21 (Um Pouco Mais; not his music but he wrote the lyrics) and had already decided to cycle in another non-bicycle-related music video (incidentally, at 1:06 you can see the spot where this happened)! Is this another coincidence — name, appearance, musicianship and musical style, and, unrelatedly, bicycling — or, to quote Scott Alexander, None of this is a coincidence because nothing is ever a coincidence? Is Sala doing this on purpose, guiding his life’s interests to coincide with Valle’s? And if so, how does that affect his psyche? does he regret the choicelessness that this path is leading him to, the dissolving of his free will and identity into a path predetermined by another man 35 years earlier? or has he reached what Ignatius of Loyola called the second degree of obedience: making the superior’s will one’s own, in such a way that there is not just effective execution but a conformity of wish?
(In Tou na Moda, Sala, wearing a black T-shirt with “FODA-SE” written on it, sings (0:34) “também oiço Elis Regina“; Elis Regina sung Black Is Beautiful, about.. erm, wanting to have sex (foda) with a black man, composed by Valle! Is he teasing at this connection?)
I can’t believe I didn’t ask him when we hung out — in Braga! of all places! the Portuguese city which is the main destination for Brazilian emigration and therefore the perfect place for this conversation to have happened!–: a perfect confluence that the universe has set up for me and that I let pass by, stumbling idly across life as I tend to do, lacking the clear example of a life path to emulate, such as the one Sala has. Lucky him.
Later edit: OK, fuck my life. One of Valle’s greatest hits is Os Grilos, whose opening lines are “Se você quer grilo tem / se quiser rio tem“. In 2017, Ganso released their first album Pá Pá Pá, whose second track is… Grilo do Nilo).