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chico buarque

Chico Buarque, Brazil's <i>Malandro</i> and Icon

Chico Buarque, Brazil's Malandro and Icon

A feature by Caio Camargo

Chico Buarque has become a living icon of Brazilian culture. For his seventieth birthday, he was the subject of countless homages and retrospectives, with an admiring piece on nearly every media outlet and birthday greetings and messages from a who’s-who of recording artists and other assorted personalities. The only notably absent voice was from the man himself. From the (relatively rare) interviews he grants, it is clear that he never felt comfortable in the shoes of his legend. Chico seems to make a point to puncture the inflated image, to paint himself as just a guy devoted to his art, who also happens to love soccer and going to the beach. But there is hardly any escape from the fact that he remains, after a decades-spanning career, a defining cultural touchstone. His work bears a great sense of history and politics, a connection to the land of his birth so strong that it is difficult to imagine Chico without Brazil, and impossible to imagine Brazil without Chico . . .