I had just watched an Almodóvar movie, Julieta. So, I was definetely in a good mood. Not that the movie is in itself happy. But to reflect at the depth of life from the intense upheavals one finds in such movies brings some sort of good feeling. And this is the state of spirit I was in when I heard the unmistakable chords of the Amelie Poulain movie theme. It was still impossible to see anyone ahead but there was, for sure, someone with an accordion there ahead. Live music. Street alive.
Of course I stopped by to listen. And after that usual small tip, there I was taking some pictures. It was cold and already late at night. So after another song, the player stopped to warm his hands against each other and saluted me. We talked and I learned a bit of his story.
He started to play early in life, aging only 6 by then. At that time he lived thousands of miles away from this big metropolis, in the northeastern part of Brazil. It is a poorer region and Rodrigues, like many others, would later migrate to São Paulo city looking for better opportunities of study and work. Which he found, but life wasn’t easy. He was completely away from the accordion for around 25 years. I ask him “how was it to stay away so long from the instrument? Did you miss playing or have you just forgotten the accordion during this time?”
“Oh no… I couldn’t forget it. It was such a pain. When you learn to love something as a child, and then you are away from it… it hits deep in your heart. Hurts. Really hurts. I was aways listening to some music. I always felt my childhood was a happier moment, because I had the music with my by then. Then I finally could play again, but the instrument was angry with me! He wouldn’t let me play the same things I used to play… It took a while for us to become friends again.”
Once again he complains about the cold air against his fingers, making it harder to play naturally. “In this cold air, you want your fingers to do something but they just won’t go.” And from this I start talking about this whole thing of playing in the street. He seem to love it.
“Someday it’s good for the money. But someday, even when you don’t make that much of money, people stop and look happily at you. Admiring. And some talk to me. Look at you here, now. And there are such different people! And they are so nice… It’s like I have never had so much friends. Never thought there could be so many. And they feel happier because of my music and then I feel happier too. I only gets better. And sometime they ask some different song… Usually when it’s from a movie there’s a good chance I didn’t know it before, if I haven’t seen the movie. Then I need to watch the movie. Not only to learn the song… but one needs to know the emotion. If it’s a happy movie, but a sad scene… Or a sad movie, but then the song is from a happy moment. It’s important. And it comes from people in the streets… I learn a good new song. But I discover some very good movies, too! See? It is a lot more than money.”