THOUGH SEU JORGE has released several fantastic solo records and starred in a dozen movies, his role in Wes Anderson’s 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is probably his most iconic performance. Aboard the rickety Belafonte in search of the elusive “jaguar shark,” the Brazilian actor/musician became Pelé dos Santos, the ship’s aloof safety expert and seabound troubadour.
As dos Santos, Jorge could often be found alone in the vessel’s quiet corners with his acoustic guitar, gingerly coaxing new textures out of David Bowie classics through Portuguese-language covers. The electrifying zigzag of Bowie’s instantly recognizable “Rebel Rebel” guitar hook softens into gentle, playful bossa nova, and “Starman” replaces sweeping grandeur with unassuming sweetness.
That’s not to say Jorge’s renditions are boring or depthless—his coos sound coarse and salty, windswept by the Belafonte’s aimless search for a fabled beast. His loose translation of the original lyrics into Portuguese transforms the songs from Bowie covers into something much more personal; Jorge’s audible hums and sighs remind listeners that in the film, dos Santos strummed guitar to comfort and entertain himself while dodging pirates in the middle of the ocean.
Beyond his role in the film, Jorge has a deep relationship with these songs. He released The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions Featuring Seu Jorge in 2005, with 14 full-length covers and one original song. The admiration was clearly reciprocated—in the liner notes Bowie wrote, “Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese, I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with.”
Jorge is currently touring the US with his songs from The Life Aquatic, and sold out his Portland date so quickly they had to move the show from Revolution Hall to the Schnitz. These special performances will feature recreations of the set, with images from the film projected on boat sails. It’ll be the rare chance to see an incredible soundtrack brought to life, and an appropriately sweet and sad tribute to the late Ziggy Stardust nearly a year after his passing.