Review Nobody Can Live Forever: The Existential Soul of Tim Maia


At the height of the hippie counterculture years (1963-75) funk, soul and jazz carried rhythms of love, peace and unity across borders. In the United States discos, drugs and cocktails produced a recipe that injected life into the music scene. In Brazil the football-crazed encapuzados were battling political oppression, and protesting through song. As a product of this period Tim Maia formed a bipolar musical self.

A hefty man with a powerful voice, Maia was a pioneer of soul, funk and disco music in Brazil. He began at an early age with a group called The Sputniks, which included himself and Roberto Carlos, among others. As the group’s chemistry fizzled out, they split and Maia left for New York City.

He spent four intense years in the city that never sleeps, bouncing from job to job as an illegal immigrant while pursuing music and consuming just about everything. It was well known Maia ingested his share of illegal substances, and in 1963 he was caught smoking weed in a stolen car and was deported back to Brazil.

He returned with new perspectives and different angles on love-making music. He fused the popular Brazilian romantic music with the funk, soul and disco he discovered in New York. The physical presence of Maia drew crowds, only to be blown away by his almighty voice. Captivating his Brazilian audience with a cool, smooth-spoken charm and rhythms to shine your shoes to, Tim Maia continued his success in Brazil until his death in 1998.

Some of Maia’s greatest hits can be found on this album, Nobody Can Live Forever: The Existential Soul of Tim Maia, an anthology exposing this musical anthropologist compiled by Luaka Bop Records. It’s an album that slides fluently from English to Portuguese and tackles serious political issues, as well as sets the mood for love. The end product: a musical biography that you can spin at a retro disco or put on for some alone time with that special someone.

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The tracks featured on this collection are everything we want from our musicians. His love and passion oozes from the speakers bringing us raw emotion. Songs that send us into a psychedelic frenzy or songs that unite us in movement with aims higher than Maia at a New York nightclub. Songs that bring smiles more profound than Maia’s afro or songs that drain tears from our eyes.

The album is beautifully diverse in pace and rhythm and showcases how exceptional Maia was for his era in blending styles and unifying people. I don’t know Maia but just from listening to his music I feel his love for all people, and his desire to bring us together through similarities instead of dwelling on the differences that pull us apart.

As he so profoundly states on the track “Nobody Can Live Forever”, “One thing, you have to agree with, that nothing’s for sure, that nobody can live forever, and everybody is the same.”

Tim Maia was outspoken and defied social norms. In the 1970s, at the height of his popularity, he joined a religious cult on the lookout for UFOs and one day he toured the offices of his record label distributing 100 hits of LSD to all the staff, as if he was a psychedelic Santa Claus. This bizarre behavior brought him many followers and attracted all kinds of attention to his revolutionary music.

All the tracks on this album were so radical for the time period, encompassing Maia’s wild personality and outlandish beliefs. Imaginative and creative, Maia learned from the US and exposed new music to Brazil for better or for worse.  Below you can watch a brief history of his life and hear some more groovin’ tunes.

The album is available for download through Luaka Bop Records as well as iTunes and Amazon.

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