The International Song Explainer: #1 — “Enxugando Gelo” (Dry Ice)

Evan Fleischer

Let’s talk about Bernardo Santos—aka B Negão—and the title track off his 2003 album. Let’s talk about how good it is. Let’s talk about a country that has choros, sambas, forró, bossa novas, capoeira, and still manages to find the time to have a great hip hop scene, too.

A friend and I sometimes indulge in a fit of communiques stacking up the songs of our respective cities against the other. Being a Paulinista (a citizen of São Paulo), she highlights Os Mutantes and “Trem Das Onze” by Adoniran Barbosa. With Boston as my adopted home, I send her the sing-alongs of Jonathan Richman and The Dropkick Murphys.

And yet I want to find a track in her backyard she’s never heard or seen, and this—Negão’s work—is my current best bet. Even though he believes in copyleft, even though he took part in the closing ceremony handover during the London 2012 Olympics, even though he could live near her, I still want to share this song and know this song and singer, who speaks of avoiding

…credores-comedores-de-cabeça, agiotas ultra magnéticos (além de outras aves de rapina menos cotadas) de butuca
Head-eating-creditors, ultra magnetic pawnbrokers (and other birds of prey not quoted) of gnat flies…

and who jokingly says

Corte pra outra cena, sem anestesia.
Cut to another scene without anaesthesia.

and who then takes what looks like a swipe against the kind of culture Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil has promoted, saying

Naquela fase da vida em que a conjunção “tempo-é-dinheiro” é quase como um eclipse
Cidadãos passeiam por jardins floridos, tendo como fundo o céu decorado por mísseis (em queda)
Subsídio da vida para o cultivo de poetas
Subsídio da mídia para o cultivo de amebas
Inseminação natural de idéias
Minha mente é como um quilombo moderno: lugares para todos os pensamentos refugiados pela insensatez reinante no planeta terra.
At the stage of life in which the conjunction “time-is-money” is almost like an eclipse,
People walk by flower gardens, against the background of a sky decorated with missiles (falling)
Lifetime allowance for cultivation of poets
Media subsidy for growing amoebae
Natural insemination of ideas
My mind is like a modern quilombo (hinterlands): places for all the thought-refugees with folly reigning on planet Earth.