Seu Jorge was the melancholy singer in Wes Anderson’s movie The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. He sang the David Bowie songs and was amazingly soulful and brought a completely unexpected quality to the Bowie songs.
He plays these five songs with his band Almaz. For reasons unclear to me only one of the songs is on the video, but the other four are available in audio format.
He sings three songs in Portuguese, and his voice is husky and passionate, so even if you don’t know what he’s singing about, you can feel the emotion.
The first song in English “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” has a cool trippy 70s vibe, with some cool keyboards. Although I don’t love his version of “Rock with You” which I imagine was super fun to sing, but it’s so different from the Michael Jackson version that it’s hard to reconcile the tow.
- Cirandar” (Audio Only)
- “Saudosa Bahia” (Audio Only)
- “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” (Audio Only)
- “Pai Joao”
- “Rock With You” (Audio Only)
[READ: October 19, 2015] The Last Interview and Other Conversations
I have never really read any Borges (a piece here and there sure, but I have his Collected Fictions waiting for me and just haven’t gotten to it. However, when I saw this book at work I decided to give it a read. I have very much enjoyed the other books in The Last Interview series (there are ten and I have read four) so I thought I’d like this too, and I did.
Borges is a fascinating individual. He was legally blind from a youngish age and was completely blind by the time of the last interview. He was humble (but not exactly humble—he genuinely didn’t think he was that great of an author). He was a pacifist (remaining neutral even in WWII) and basically spent his whole life immersed in books.
This book contains three interviews
“Original Mythology” by Richard Burgin (from Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges, 1968)
“Borges and I” by Daniel Bourne, Stephen Cape, Charles Silver (Artful Dodger 1980)
“The Last Interview” by Gloria Lopez Lecube (La Isla FM Radio, Argentina, 1985) [translated by Kit Maude]
The first interview here is over 100 pages, but it is fast moving and conversational. Burgin says that he met Borges when the author came Cambridge, MA to teach. He says that he was so excited to meet Borges that he spoke of him all the time, to everyone. Finally someone said why not just call him and set up a meeting. Which he did. And he went back many times and began taping the meetings. Over the course of six months he came up with Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges (which is 260 some pages and is clearly edited down here).
This interview is fascinating for two reasons. The first is that Burgin is clearly a huge fan of Borges. He knows Borges’ work very well, so when they talk about the stories, Burgin is able to offer insightful comments and thoughts about the works himself. It’s very cool. The second is that Burgin mostly just wants to talk about writing. So he keeps asking Borges about certain stories to get his feeling about them. And since Borges is pretty humble, it never comes across like anything obnoxious. It’s just two people talking about great (or not so great) stories.
They start with Borges saying there was never a time when he didn’t love literature and knew he would be a writer. Although he says he has always been a greater reader than writer. Of course, Borges has written countless stories and poems and essays (his Wikipedia bibliography is astonishing). They talk about his favorite pieces, his use of labyrinths and why he excluded certain pieces from his anthology.
If anyone wanted to know anything about Borges’ stories, this would be the place to start. Having not read any of the stories, this interview really made me wan to jump in.
He speaks generally of other writers he likes. Although he also says that he thinks Ulysses is a failure–you know the circumstances about the characters but you never really know them,). Whereas he loves Moby Dick for exactly the opposite reason.
In the second interview (which is only 25 pages), Borges starts off by requesting only straightforward questions–no “what do you think of the future?” type of things.
They ask about his influence, he says he can speak of the influences he has received but none that he has given. He talks about Walt Whitman saying that Whitman was a myth of a man who “made of himself a rather splendid vagabond.”
They ask about his love of old English/Anglo-Saxon poetry. He says he chose to read it and immediately fell in love with it from two words: Lundenburgh (London) and Romeburgh (Rome). He is looking forward to moving on to other old languages.
They ask about the translations of his own work that he helped with and he says that he never thinks of his own work when he translated. He says that Borges the writer and Borges the translator are completely separate people.
The Last interview was in 1985 (Borges died in 1986).
In the first part they speak of his companion who reads to him. He misses reading and feels that listening just isn’t the same. Then the interviewer talks about his being blind–a lot, which I found a little uncomfortable, but Borges doesn’t seem to mind.
When she says he has done so much for Argentine literature he balks and says that he has not influenced anyone, but he has been influenced by Paul-François Groussac, Arturo Capdevila, Baldomero Fernández Moreno and Pedro Bonifacto Palacios (also known as Almafuerte).
The interviewer gets very personal, asking if he lies, asking why he left his mother’s bedroom untouched after her death. And again, Borges doesn’t seem to mind at all.
She ends by asking about authors who charge for interviews. And he ends by saying that “rich people are usually miserly and often greedy too. Poor people aren’t. The poor are free with their generosity.”
Borges was an interesting man and I’m curious to see if any of these traits appear in his writing.