David Bowie Praised Seu Jorge for Taking His Songs to a 'New Level of Beauty' With Portuguese Covers: Listen

Seu Jorge The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Touchstone/courtesy Everett Collection

Seu Jorge in "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" in 2004.

Few versions of David Bowie’s music underscore the breadth and depth of his compositions as Seu Jorge’s adaptations in Portuguese.

Jorge was a rising Brazilian star, fresh from playing a role in the 2002 acclaimed film City of God, which caught director Wes Anderson’s attention. He tapped him to play the role of Pelé dos Santos on The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, his 2004 film starring Bill Murray as Zissou and a supporting cast that included Owen Wilson, Anjelica Houston, Willem Dafou, Jeff Goldblum and Cate Blanchett.

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In his role as dos Santos, a singing sailor, Jorge performed several of Bowie’s songs in the film, including “Rebel, Rebel,” “Life on Mars” and “Starman.”  But in a twist, he did it in Portuguese, accompanying himself simply with acoustic guitar.

Jorge would later re-record those songs, and more, for his album The Life Aquatic Studio Versions Featuring Seu Jorge.

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The fact that he sang them in Portugese, and admitted to having liberally changed the lyrics in many instances, didn’t faze Bowie, who had this to say in the album’s liner notes: "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.”

In honor of Bowie's decades-long career and his surprise death on Sunday at age 69 following an 18-month cancer battle, here are some of Jorge’s covers from the film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou:

"Lady Stardust"


"Rock 'n Roll Suicide"