Enneagram & Music: Raul Seixas
Raul Seixas was arguably the first real rock star from Brazil. Much more than that, he was able to develop a unique identity as a musician by combining his love of rock ’n’ roll with traditional music genres from his own country. And he was able to do so in very compelling and irreverent ways.
Such irreverence was always one of his greatest strengths, but, in a way, it was also his Achilles’s heel. That is the strongest reason why I believe that Raul — or Raulzito, as he was affectionately known — was a type Seven in the Enneagram. More specifically, a Sexual Seven.
I am the light of the stars
Now, because I’ve already talked about a type Seven musician in this series, I’ll try not to repeat myself here. But, if you’re not familiarized with this system, a good starting point for our discussion is to say that Sevens are often characterized as the most optimistic and enthusiastic of all types in the Enneagram.
An optimism which draws from their main passion, which is gluttony, and is reinforced by their key defense mechanism, which is rationalization. In other words, they tend to be eager to enjoy new and stimulating experiences, and usually find a way to convince themselves that things are better than they actually are.
This pattern of rationalization is even more prevalent for the Sexual Seven, and that’s why this particular subtype is called “Suggestibility”. They often have a hard time acknowledging the heavy side of life, and even when they do so, they tend to find it necessary to minimize it with high doses of irony and/or mockery.
But, because they usually do this in a good-natured way, they often get by with this strategy. Which, of course, only makes things worse, because it seems like a harmless tendency for them. But insisting on this approach to life may not only hinder their growth considerably, but also backfire, as we’ll see.
In Raul’s case, this pattern would play out most evidently in his personal life. I won’t discuss his many different marriages here, because I don’t know that much about them. Instead, I’d like to mention an experience in which his lack of seriousness seems to have caused a lot of damage both to him and to other people.
but hey, how could I know?
During the early seventies, Raul was very much into the teachings of the British occultist Aleister Crowley. I guess it’s not hard to see how the Law of Thelema (“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”) can seem enticing to a Seven (and even more for the Sexual subtype, who tends to be attracted to the esoteric).
That was an interest which he shared with his main music partner at the time, the lyricist (and future best-selling author) Paulo Coelho. To the point that both of them were once part of a secret society dedicated to following the teachings of Crowley, and Raul, during his concerts, would even read the Law of Thelema.
Now, as if playing with this stuff wasn’t dangerous enough by itself, there’s another key component here: since 1964 Brazil had been under a military dictatorship (which would last for 20 years), and persecution, torture and assassination were all part of the picture (especially in the early seventies).
And how did Raul saw his involvement with that society? Apparently, as just another amusement. Which can be inferred from the reminiscences of a few people who knew him then, and who agreed to talk about that for a recent (and very good) documentary about Raul’s life.
One of those people was Caetano Veloso, already one of Brazil’s most famous musicians. At one point, he says that Paulo and Raul went to his house and talked about the precepts of the order, but the latter seemed a little frivolous to him.
Caetano said that, even though Raul was supposedly a great believer in the teachings of that society, there was a very remarkable incongruity in his attitude: “Raul was excited with that, but at the same time he saw I was kind of skeptic and ironic, and he would join me in my irony a little bit”.
From such words, one can infer that Raul was so naive about the whole situation that it was almost as if having the last laugh was more important for him than any ethical convictions he might have had. Or that he could gain something without putting some real effort.
This impression is only reinforced by the declaration of one of the leaders of that society, who at one moment actually said that Paulo (whom I suspect is a Self-Preservation Four) was always very disciplined in regards to their practices. As for Raul… “Not so much”.
The way the story ends is a bit inconclusive. Coelho’s biographer, Fernando Morais, depicts an encounter between Paulo and the Devil himself, followed a few days later by a perhaps even more traumatic experience of arrest and torture by the military (who considered his esoteric lyrics to be subversive).
The specific consequences that Raul faced are also unclear, but years later he himself would say that he was tortured too and, right after that, departed to the United States. In the documentary, Paulo didn’t enter into many details, simply stating that he and everyone involved “paid the price”.
I’ve lost my fear of the rain
As an artist, though, I’d argue that Raul’s lack of seriousness — and even his lack of discipline — would contribute a lot to make him very unique in what he did.
To begin with, he was never worried about experimenting with different genres, because he never respected those limits too much. In his very first hit, “Let Me Sing, Let Me Sing”, he sings in both English and Portuguese, mixing rock with baião (a traditional genre from the Northeast of Brazil).
Even better than that was his next single (and one of his first partnerships with Paulo), called “Ouro de Tolo”, taken from his first solo album. The lyrics have (purposefully) an excessive amount words, making it impossible to fit them into the meter of the song properly. That’s, basically, a proto-rap way back in 1973!
In its turn, the introduction of that song is an allusion to “Detalhes”, which over the years would become the signature song of the already incredibly popular romantic singer Roberto Carlos. The fact that Raul even considered doing that is a good hint of a healthy lack of respect for any of the big names of Brazilian music.
Finally, the lyrics of “Ouro de Tolo” (whose title translates as “Fool’s Gold”) are ironic from beginning to end, following the viewpoint of a man who feels disenchanted by the success he achieved. In my view, it’s a much more powerful expression of nonconformity than any of the so-called “protest songs” of that time.
But, eventually, even Raul’s music career would suffer from the lack of consistency he showed in other realms of his life. Maybe not so much because of the events already mentioned in this text, but more because of an addiction that he, unfortunately, never escaped from: alcohol.
and now I ask myself, so what?
One of the consequences of it was that, starting from the late seventies, his career would decline considerably both in terms of commercial success and critical reception. There were a few comebacks, and some really good albums here and there, but nothing that could match the impact he once had.
Perhaps such impact wasn’t meant to be matched by anyone, anyway. Raul was a rock star in the classic sense of the word, with all the excesses and ups and downs that were characteristic of the lives of so many musicians of his era.
Still, when all is said and done, there is no doubt in my mind that his songs will last far longer than most of what is considered today to be of the highest caliber. Because, to use Paulo’s words, Raul lived his legend to the fullest. And his work, whatever one’s opinion about it may be, was the ultimate testimony of that.