NEW YORK (AP) — Caetano Veloso had written so many songs that he truly believed he was done creating music almost a decade ago when he released the Latin Grammy-winning album “Abraçaço.”
“I still think that I have written too many songs along the years and decades,” the Brazilian legend, who has released over 50 studio and live albums, told The Associated Press in a recent interview from Rio de Janeiro.
But, at 79, he has more things to say.
Veloso is back with “Meu Coco” (which literally means “my coconut” but refers to the head), his first solo album since 2012. Released Friday by Sony Music Latin, it includes 11 new tracks — from the resounding female-driven title song to the thought-provoking first single, “Anjos Tronchos.” There's also a new version of his “Noite de Cristal,” a sublime piece he originally wrote in the 1990s for his sister, Maria Bethânia.
“Anjos Tronchos,” released one month ago, addresses “the technological wave that has given us laptops, smartphones, and the Internet," as Veloso has written in production notes. The lyrics not only criticize “the crooked angels of Silicon Valley,” but also the rise of leaders like Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro thanks to social media (“leading clowns sprouted macabre,” he sings) and the last verse even mentions American singer Billie Eilish, who famously created her groundbreaking first album at home with her brother Finneas.
Veloso admits that he doesn’t follow social media or knows much about technology.
“As a matter of fact, I started writing that song and I thought I would never end it. At least not so soon, not for this record,” said the singer, noting that he doesn't even have a smartphone and that he uses his laptop mostly to exchange emails, watch videos on YouTube and sometimes use Wikipedia or Google.
“But then some verses came and they were added to the first ones and I had a complete song. It was a surprise for me that I had so many things to say about something that I thought I didn’t know anything about,” he added with a laugh.
Another surprise was how rediscovering “Noite de Cristal” made him see his own music with new eyes. Maria Bethânia, whose recording of the song didn't become very well known, as Veloso said, called his brother saying he should record the old song and include it on the album.
“I said, ‘I don’t remember that song!’ It was very funny, because I went to look for it in the internet and it was wrong; under that title, there was another song. I said, ‘Bethânia, I couldn’t find it.’ Then she sent to me a recording of it and I heard it and I said, ‘Wow! It is beautiful!’”
“I had never been satisfied with a song when I finish it. But after years, some have surprised me,” he said.
Time has also shifted his perspective on life: “I don’t have that intense fear of finitude that I had when I was 17, or 26, or 32. No. But I still live, the taste is still the same,” said Veloso, who turns 80 in August.
Clearheaded, good-humored and youthful, he attributed his longevity to his family genes. His mother lived to be 105 and she was very lucid till the end. His father died at 82 of prostate cancer, but otherwise he was healthy. Now he hopes to get to live to an average of the two, he said.
If he could give his 18-year-old self a piece of advice knowing everything he knows today, what would it be?
“Don’t be that afraid, you’re not going to die now,” Veloso laughed.
Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.