Song You Need: This Brazilian ballad sums up birth, life and death in two minutes

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Tim Bernardes is a superstar in his hometown of São Paulo and in Brazil in general. At 30, he has already collaborated with tropical legends such as Gal Costa and Tom Zeas well as an eclectic array of acts around the world – from David Byrne for Devendra Banhart and Shintaro Sakamoto for fleet foxes, with whom he will tour North America this summer. His songwriting and composition led BADBADNOTGOOD’s Alex Sowinski to co-sign him as “a modern legend”, and the great Caetano Veloso called his performance style “a marvel of tuning, dynamic control, refinement, instrumental performance and freedom in the elegance of using the stage.” Still, he didn’t make the critical or commercial splashes one would expect in the North, given his impressive resume.

Today he announced his second album, Mil Coisas Invisiveis (1000 invisible things), with the release of his first single: “Nascer, Viver, Morrer”. The track is a case study in the power of stillness and brevity, the art of saying a lot with little. In less than two minutes, Bernardes paints an impressionistic portrait of birth, life and death, tacitly capturing the capacity of human experience to be both terrifyingly simple and wondrously multiplicity. Divided into three verses without a cross-chorus – each beginning with one of the titular infinitive verbs – the song’s simple structure allows it to be freely associated.

“Viver / na realidade que é onde é possível / às vezes sem nem perceber que está vivo / às vezes na barra, às vezes na boa / no mundo, na mente, no sonho e no ser / no raro momento infinito viver,” he sings in the second verse. (“To live / In reality it’s where it’s possible / Sometimes without even realizing it / Sometimes in the bar, sometimes in the good / In the world, in the mind, in the dream and in the to be / In the rare infinite instant, to live.”)

“It’s a very short song which, when I wrote it, I felt like it kind of opened the album,” he explains. “The songs on the album have different vibes to each other, but I feel like this one ties them together in a very synthetic way. I’m trying to say a lot with few words. About the ‘just being”, of the magic of existence. Of the presence of presence and the presence of absence in life.”

Listen to “Nascer, Viver, Morrer” and find Tim Bernardes’ upcoming tour dates with Fleet Foxes below.

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