Here’s an odd little cover of the Buffalo Springfield song, “For What It’s Worth.” (You know the song; you just might not recognize it by its title.) The singer is Wanda Sá, a Brazilian singer and guitar player who was part of Sergio’s potent international pop band, Brasil ’66, in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Five years before Sergio Mendes took a crack at it, Stephen Stills had written “For What It’s Worth” as a laid-back anthem for the counter-culture movement. For the hippie community in 1966, the lyrics represented an exasperated cry for peace, so, to be honest, a sexy, slinky, bossa nova interpretation of a song so deeply personal to an entire youth culture was, I would say, an “interesting choice.” But, hey…what do I know? Sergio made it work. Come to think of it, the U.S. did start slowly pulling troops out of Vietnam the same year this song was released. Did Wanda Sá’s syrupy vocals and the groovy, percussive arrangement by Sergio Mendes open the door for peace and the end of the war? Who knows? All I can say is that it’s really hard to aim an M16 while your hips are going chunka-chunka-chunka-huh.