With a song in my recently aerobically stimulated cardiac muscle: The manila folder was still in the drawer where I’d left it. It contained the workout logs I kept when I started going to Club One City Center last year. Two rows on the top page were still empty, so I marked the date next to the last one I’d filled in six months ago, shortly before quitting the gym. A sip of water from the fountain, a few minutes’ desultory stretching on a bleached towel atop a flat grey mat and I was off to the races.
Monday I just went through the motions, not even trying to meet the minimum standards of the reps and sets suggested by my old trainer. Yesterday was better: I kept my eyes closed, my breathing slow and regular and mindful. Multitasking’s not called for on a treadmill or an abdominal machine. No windows to open, no messages to answer. You do what the machine recommends, pause, repeat, pause, dab at your brow and move along. I did have Caetano Veloso’s CD “Livro” the first time, and maybe I’ll bring it along next time.
The song in question, “Manhata,” keeps me in the moment without nostalgia and inspires neither temporal nor geographical longing, because it makes me feel content and still and gracious and it pins me in wonderment beneath horns, strings, nylon guitar strings and clearly enunciated, softly whispered lyrics.
Leaving Chico Buarque behind, it’s time to talk about “Manhata”. This song is a cross-breed of Sousandrad and Lulu Santos, who deserves more than this song, by the way. Chico Buarque does not share our (mine and Lulu’s) view of Manhattan. The reference to the rhythm’n’blues producers wouldn’t interest him. Maybe the inconspicuous one in “Livro”, in which Julien Sorel, inside a cave, writes a book at dusk and burns it at dawn, would. The desire to combine modern street percussion from Bahia with cool, sophisticated sounds came during my European tour with “Fina Estampa”, when I listened to records of Miles Davis with Gil Evans and of Joao Gilberto singing “Baixa do Sapateiro”. With “Manhata” I accomplished this fusion.