Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chapter 9


"The fish is an animal that sees ahead and behind, that moves both vertically and horizontally in the water. It can thus position itself in relation to a certain point from 'n' different ways. Today it comes from the right, tomorrow from the left, later from the top and from the bottom. People of the Pisces sign grant themselves the right to change depending on how they see a situation."
- Antônio Carlos Siqueira Harres (Bola)

In 1979, the gaúcho Antônio Carlos Siqueira Harres, also known as Bola, did the astrological chart of Elis Regina, at her request. A dedicated and serious student of astrology, Bola had three meetings with Elis in Rio. She was preoccupied by a change of recording companies. She had a proposal to sign with Warner and to sing at the Montreux Jazz Festival. With the interpretation of Elis' map, Bola enlightens us:

- Our meeting was somewhat tumultuous, and I perceived that she lead an extremely agitated life, and had many people gravitating around her. She had certain plans to do work with an American musician. I told her that her astrological conditions favoured long-distance things. But our work was greatly interrupted by constant incoming telephone calls. It seemed to me from that contact that she was the one who decided everything. At the same time as I went there to observe and interpret her chart, I was also looking, seeing how she reacted, how she was during those moments.

"She had Pluto in the sign of Leo, in the first astrological position, and halfway in the sky in Aries, hich gave her leadership qualities in professional terms, and I felt that she wanted to leave her mark on everything. She intervened in all the decisions, all the details. She ordered her employee in this way, like she talked to her brother on the telephone about administrative problems, as she behaved with the musicians. I perceived through her telephone conversations that she had a very sharp critical sense.

Elis is Pisces with Jupiter in Virgo. This astrological characteristic is that of a person who very anxiously seeks perfection. The sun in Pisces, ascending in Cancer, characterized a very sensitive and perceptive person. The people of Pisces and Cancer have a thick outer shell and a soft part on the inside. In initial meetings, therefore, one can't have very intimate dealings with them. They are people who speak very little of their intimate side. And it is very difficult for one to have access to their intimate side. That's the reason why they seek art, song, poetry, painting, and other forms of expression and communication in order to translate their internal feelings. Talking is already something difficult for them to do. I think that she must have felt annoyed at being pressured to state her positions, to situate herself and explain her views. Those situations are always imposed by force. Naturally, she wasn't a person that wanted to give many openings.

"People belonging to the signs of Pisces and Cancer, two water signs, are people of great emotion, sensitivity, fantasy, imagination and a certain rigidity. Our first meetings with them are very formal, but we feel that they are capturing, filming and feeling everything. This is the difficulty of the fish signs - Pisces and Cancer, they give the impression of not being interested, and in fact, are totally bsorbed. Inside, they have an auricular hemisphere which encompasses everything, but place themselves in a certain defensive position until they feel that they can trust you. Once he feels that, there is a elding, a great and strong involvement, where it's sometimes it difficult to tell what is from him and what is from the other. In order to do that, it's sometimes necessary to conquer right at the start of the blow, of the explosion. Although Pisces people are by nature peaceful, contemplative, they have explosive moments. It's their way to return to their centre, to disintoxicate themselves from that melding that they create in their relationships with others.

"Pisces and Cancer have another characteristic: it's to accumulate things that aren't arranged, that aren't said. Suddenly, there is the famous drop of water. And then that person can arrive in the house, not find the chair that they like to sit on, and have a fit. No one understands that this is just the overflow. "Astrology doesn't characterize people by their qualities and faults. It describes natural dispositions. Lying, for example, is not a characteristic, but is a consequence of an insecurity. Elis' chart shows that her humble, proletarian origins made her carry a certain feeling of inferiority. This gave her the need to expand and to grow, and to show the world that she was really worth something. I think that deep down in her psyche, she felt insecure in relation to her merits and self-worth. She required constant recognition from others, and to affirm herself onto others. I believe that whenever she delved into herself and perceived her limitations, she would enter into deep processes of depression. It was something that maybe she ran away from, because she knew how deep she could sink. I think that no one had access to this. It was a very reserved way of living, very private.

"She had Saturn in position 12, a room within herself that only she had access to, and the key to enter it. "This necessity to grow, to project herself, was part of Elis. She also has a quadrature of the Moon in March, in Aquarius, that also shows a somewhat belligerent nature in the sense of discussion and of wanting to compete in terms of ideas. She liked arguments and had a short fuse in this regard.

She loved discussions, and at any moment, would voice any argument that she had in her head, not concerning herself whether or not it corresponded exactly with reality. She did this only because of the necessity of the discussion and in order not to be left a loser.

"When you analyze a person's astrological chart, sometimes you don't have any conditions to tackle certain points. And Elis, at that time, was extremely preoccupied with the moment in which she was living, and less in the description of her personality. And because of the fact that she the kind of person that I have already described, she didn't give much of an opening through which to penetrate.

At first, she was extremely reserved with me, in order to see what I was capable of. She wasn't the kind of person that would let herself get dragged into a conversation. She had a great capacity to evaluate someone's talent. So much in fact that she launched many new people. I immediately felt myself under her X-rays. When I said: at a certain age this-or-that happened, with minute details and things that I couldn't have read in newspapers, she realized that I could bring things to her with real substance. But at the beginning she was sceptical and cautious. Afterwards, she asked me to do the astrological chart for all the children and for César, with whom I spoke once. None materialized. Elis stopped all payments.

"In our conversations, she wanted to know how to come out ahead in her dealings with the recording company, what were the best dates to release new albums.

"During our second meeting, she practically only listened, not giving me any elements to work with. And she noted down everything that I said. The last time that we got together, I spoke at lengths of the children, the family situation.

"She had a quadrature of Saturn with Neptune, which gave her the sensation of having been deceived. It always brought a great deal of confusion into her contract negotiations, many things that weren't clarified. A certain nebulosity in this area. She was a person who had a great attraction for materialistic things and a capacity to attract the resources and the means to earn these things.

"Because she had the Sun in opposition to Jupiter, the father figure didn't give her the sensation of a person who would protect her the way she wanted. Regarding the mother, a very great protectionism of hers towards her mother, and of the mother towards her. But, at the same time, she had a need for space, freedom, to be able to breathe a different air. She had to treat her mother with some hostility, in order not to feel possessed by her. In other words, the mother protected her very much, with a certain possessiveness. And she, vice-versa with the mother and the children. Elis had a high degree of attachment with everyone that gravitated around her. But at the same time, it was necessary that she not feel that symbiosis of dependency. It was contradictory, because March in Aquarius and Pluto indicates a person who wanted to be independent.

"She had an insecurity regarding her right to say to someone what she was thinking. Because of this, she had to invent a story that would make what she wanted to say more acceptable. She had to give a credibility to what she said, basing herself on arguments, people and circumstances. And in such a way that people could not check it out. In other words, in another plane of imagination and fantasy in which there was no one to contest. She let out her stories with such vehemence, such conviction, that whoever doubted her would be forced to take it up with her as a personal confrontation. There was also her perfectionism, an obsession. I spoke to her of the tendency that she had to be misinterpreted in her declarations. That she should always take great care with that, because very often, arguments that she would raise were not well understood. The fish is an animal that sees ahead and behind, that moves both vertically and horizontally in the water. It can thus position itself in relation to a certain point from 'n' different ways. Today it comes from the right, tomorrow from the left, later from the top and from the bottom. People of the Pisces sign grant themselves the right to change depending on how they see a situation. Others don't understand this very well. It's a characteristic of fishes, Pisces people are paradoxical. To expect a linear thought process from them is hopeless. They are totally unstable and unpredictable. But they are extremely rich and fertile, and open up horizons and show you things that you would never have imagined existed. Because Elis liked heated discussions, some people certainly could not forgive her. When she exploded, everything came out at once, and whoever was close by either had to endure or duck. She had a talent for squeezing people's weak points.

Here on Earth, Elis' career attempted a new international flight. She would be one of the performers during the Brazilian Evening at the traditional and respected Montreux Jazz Festival, which took place every year in that city in Switzerland. According to César Mariano's recollection, he, Elis and the musicians were extremely nervous when they arrived on stage. They had seen in the audience celebrities such as Chick Corea and Rick Wakeman. They were trembling. When the band got up on stage and started to warm up for Elis' entrance, they were even more nervous. When she arrived, vocalizing in the back, the audience became delirious. Everyone was standing, applauding. Elis became disconcerted. She started to cry and perspire. She spent half the show fooling with her eyes, incommodated by the running mascara. Anyone could see this from backstage. André Midani, the president of Warner:

"From a musical point of view, that show was a tragedy. And as far as tragedies go, it was a great greek tragedy. Halfway through the show, I witnessed a perspiring young woman, white, who could hardly stay up on her feet. I got a cup of water and extended it toward her. She took the cup with a trembling hand, drank a bit and resumed her singing. And better, and better, and glorifying. At the dinner, later on, she told me: "I remembered that I was the daughter of a cleaning lady. What was I doing on that stage?" How could it be, I thought, that after having played on various stages of the world, Elis almost reached the brink of disaster and, halfway through, came back?

After returning from Montreux, Elis asked Rogério to call me. She wanted to set a rendez-vous: a dinner at her brother's house. She wanted to talk to me. When I arrived, I was surprised. Elis was in the kitchen, mixing up a chinese dinner with a wooden spoon. She added the seasonings well, in a methodical and organized fashion. Elis knew how to control a house with children. When she didn't have anybody to leave them with, she brought them with her.

We ate together, Elis, César, Rogério, Biba and I. Pedro and Maria Rita were also there. That evening, Elis spoke all the time about musicians, about how they had another life, how complicated they were. She made us laugh a lot. Elis then played the tape of her show at Montreux. She wanted my opinion. Had she sang poorly? The tape was a consecration. Applause in the middle of songs. The voice was noticeably quivering, but she didn't sing badly. In fact, years later, when I heard again the tape that Warner had decided not to release, I noticed flaws in the interpretations, and then agreed with her: it shouldn't even be issued on record. Elis' encounter with Hermeto Pascoal (1) at Montreux was a battle, an insane musical duel. Elis appeared to want to defy him, and to show off more and more. Hermeto seemed to want to dominate her with the piano.

After Montreux, Elis started to get ready for the show to accompany the release of the record "Essa Mulher" (That Woman), her first work for Warner. Leonardo Netto, assistant to André Midani, a young and intelligent figure in the recording world, created a new feminine image for Elis. With shorter hair, Elis dressed with distinction and class. The makeup highlighted a soft gentle beauty. She also recorded a sweet, mellow record.

To help her with the show's direction, Elis called upon Oswaldo Mendes, the same one who had worked as assistant during César Mariano's show. Oswaldo recalls:

"On the opening day at the Anhembi, there was tension in the air, she was arguing with César. She screamed: "Don't let him come into the dressing-room!" When she arrived on stage, everything changed. We rehearsed that same day and only one thing had not been finalized: how she would enter on stage. I found this preoccupation of Elis a little strange, because entering the stage is entering the stage. But that evening, at the moment of As aparências enganam (Looks Deceive), I was going to put on a counter-light and another light from the front, in order to have total lighting on her. I hadn't yet had a chance to see the Clodovil outfit that she was going to use. When the time came to turn on the lights, she became literally nude, the outfit was transparent.

The greatest success of the show and record Essa Mulher was undoubtedly the song O Bêbado E A Equilibrista (The Drunk and the Tightrope Walker), by Aldir Blanc and João Bosco (2), which was transformed into the Hino Da Anistia (Hymn of the Amnesty). One person in particular was closely associated with what it meant for Elis to have recorded that song and, moreover, what the political victory of the amnesty represented for her: Henfil, represented in the song's lyrics because of his exiled brother Betinho (3). His testimony:

"I realized from the way she sounded that I had to drop everything and go over right away. When I arrived, she played me a tape of João Bosco singing O Bêbado E A Equilibrista. I don't remember if I liked the song or not. She was crying all the time. César was close by and didn't know what to do, it was too much. Maybe she had anticipated the importance that this song would have, something that I hadn't noticed. Maybe she already knew what type of voice she would use, what type of percussion there would be. I was just happy to finally have my name in a song. When she called me the second time to show me what she had done with the song, I noticed several things. César realized more than anyone what that song meant to Elis, and to me. He realized that this song would pick up my spirits. I was in a bad state at the time, in a bad affectionate state, living in São Paulo with a downcast outlook. And I had the problem of being on the television's black list. César did an arrangement for the song starting with an accordion that sounded like a street organ. I looked at him, who returned my look as if he was saying: "It's her doing".

That introduction is of the type "get your heart ready for the things I'm going to tell you". I got turned off at that point. When she came on with her voice, and I realized that she was singing more with emotion than with technique, then I was overwhelmed. When the song ended, I realized that the amnesty would take place. We were at the beginning of the campaign, and could barely get five hundred people out in the street. I had always taken great care when talking about my brother in the letters of Isto É (4), and when Aldir Blanc wrote the lyrics to the song, he didn't even know my brother's name. I realized something: the dictatorship, the government would realize that after this song, no one could prevent the moment of amnesty. I wrote to my brother Betinho and told him to get ready. "Now we have a hymn and whoever has a hymn has a revolution." And in fact, as expected, that thing grew in such a way that I am certain that it helped the rallies to grow from five hundred to five thousand people. And then our rallies only consisted in playing the music and attending. I think that the amnesty came out six months later, even before the opposition had time to administer it, to propose other formulas. The day my brother arrived, there was still a climate where we were unsure as to whether or not he would be arrested. Everyone carried a tape recorder with a recording of the song. And at the Congonhas Airport, there was a certain recording of O Bêbado E A Equilibrista. Even the policemen were playing it. TV Globo played the music on the air. Betinho arrived, and the same day, I brought him to the Anhembi to see Elis' show. She interrupted her show to say that one of the motives behind the song was present, thanks to God. Henfil's brother had finally arrived. It was as if Elis was telling me: "We are even now".

She wasn't looking at me with a guilty look any more.

"Elis was the voice of the guts of all of Brazil. I feel more tranquil today, because I was able to be the fuse of a great explosion, of a great artist. And it was then that I realized something: art and character have absolutely nothing to do with one another, unfortunately. Or fortunately."

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Copyright Regina Echeverria – Robert St-Louis

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