Tom Jobim and the transcendent

I know quite a bit about Antonio Carlos (Tom) Jobim, Brazil’s best-known composer (Girl From Ipanema, Desafinado, Wave, Waters of March, etc.), having listened to and played a lot of his music over the years and having read two biographies about him. What I never knew, though, at least until I read the biography Antonio Carlos Jobim, an Illuminated Man, written by his sister Helena Jobim, was that Jobim had had a “mystical” experience that changed him forever.

Tom was going on a hunting trip with his friend Mario, sometime around 1959, when it happened. Helena tells the story (free translation from the Portuguese by me):

It was a long trip over a dirt road, with the forest nearly blocking their way. Mario, who was driving the car, started to speed. Tom, sitting next to him, started feeling more and more tense. Suddenly, something happened. He felt everything relaxing inside of him. He looked at the headlights shining on the reddish banks, a tree bending over the road, the shining stars frozen in the dark blue sky. Suddenly there was no longer any separation between him and everything around him. He was everything — the light from the headlights, the illuminated banks, the tree, the distant stars — and everything was him. At that moment his fear stopped. Any and all fear ceased in his body and in his mind. There was no more fear of death, because there was no death. He was in everything — more than that — he was everything. And would continue to be forever. Tom said this experience was so intense that it was hard to put into words. It was untellable. He felt changed after it. He had experienced another dimension.

I can’t help wondering how such an experience might have changed him as a composer and musician. The only hint I could find in the book was when he remarked to Helena, when she said she felt the source of her inspiration as a writer had dried up,

“The source never dries up.” Then he pointed off into space and said, “It’s all there, you just have to go and get it.”

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under music, spiritual

8 responses to “Tom Jobim and the transcendent

  1. Libby Unwin

    Awesome!!

  2. Sailez

    I don’t know about any spiritual effects one may have, I do know that Jobim was a unique, talented composer who came up with some of the loveliest melodies of the Century. Saw him in the Paul Mason summer concerts in Los Gatos, along with his son, daughter and wife. Magnificent!!!

  3. Merrilee

    Wonderful story, Amy. I wonder if there’s an English translation of the whole book in the U.S. Will check that out as I’d love to read it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s