Tim Maia

ūüŹ∑ Soul, rock, and funk singer and musician from Rio de Janeiro

Ecléctico is making your ears and algorithms more eclectic, one song at a time.

"O Caminho Do Bem" by Tim Maia
(1975)


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Luaka Bop liner notes: Tim Maia changed the game, introducing modern black music from the U.S. to national pop music, linking funk and bai√Īo, bringing soul closer to bossa nova and opening windows and doors to new forms of music that were not Tropicalist, nor MPB, nor rock n' roll: they were quintessentially Brazilian. They were Tim Maia. Prior to the 1970's, the average white, urban Brazilian imagined him or herself living in a harmonious melting pot of European, African and indigenous heritage, but racism, despite being distinctly different than in North America, still permeated Brazilian society. There were no shortages of prominent Afro-Brazilian musicians, singers or composers, but black Brazilians were primarily typecast as nothing more than happy-go-lucky samba singers.

Tim wasn't the first Brazilian artist under the sway of North American black music: Wilson Simonal and Jorge Ben experimented and synthesized different soul and funk rhythms into their styles, but Tim was the first to completely flip the equation, embracing soul and funk music wholeheartedly, adding indigenous Brazilian touches if and when they fit.

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In 1974, touched by who knows what, he converted to a religious sect, the cult of Racional Engergy. The sect was based in the faith that we are perfect beings from a distant planet, exiled on Earth to suffer but able to purify through the reading of a single book and to finally be rescued by flying saucers of our original home. It was a perfect fit for someone like Tim.

At the moment of his illumination, he was finishing his fifth solo album with what would later become known as the Vitória Régia Band, the band that would be with him the rest of his life, almost. When he joined the cult, he dressed in white, shaved his ever-present facial hair, he quit alcohol, drugs and red meat and always kept a strange book in-hand. He would say things that, for him, were completely out of character, like "Pot and booze are the devil's stuff." He decided that all the songs he recorded and sang would be in celebration of his new faith in the Superior Rational from outer space. He rewrote the lyrics and recorded the funky devotional albums Tim Maia Racional I (1974) and II (1975) [the latter features today’s song]. Philips had no interest in these bizarre and uncommercial songs, but that did not stop Tim Maia. Always a pioneer, he started the first independent music label in Brazil, called Seroma, and arranged for the albums to be produced and distributed by his company. The label name was taken from his initials: S E bastiao RO drigues M A ia.

Having given up smoking and drinking, he had lost a lot of weight and his voice had never been so clean and strong. His singing on the Racional albums is unrivaled, but to most the lyrics didn't make any sense. Radio refused to play the Racional albums, which were mostly purchased by fellow cult members.

He left the sect one year later, broke, disillusioned and fed up with the hypocrisy of the cult leader. He ordered the destruction of all the Racional recordings and forbade anyone to record the songs. As someone who prided himself on being street smart and prison wise, Tim may have felt a bit ashamed of having been duped by a charlatan in a white robe preaching about UFO's.