Today I’m departing from the usual format of this blog to tell a little story I found funny about a lyric-less choro song. If any of you, my dear readers, are fans of the 1981 comedy Stripes, and happen to have watched it enough to have the soundtrack fully fixed in your memory, then maybe you’ll remember the scene backed by this tune (as my super-impressive mega-mooning friend Geoff did, calling my attention to this whole matter):
If you don’t remember the scene, it’s a pretty gloomy one: Bill Murray’s car has just been repossessed and, as he protests, his fresh, warm pizza slides onto the street on a dreary New York day. It’s a moment when just about anyone might start crying softly. And as it happens, Elmer Bernstein’s tune to match the moment is astonishingly similar to a Brazilian choro by just that name – “Crying softly” – from 1963. The similarity is so striking that I decided to have a look around for Bernstein-Brazil connections, and found that five years after “Chorando baixinho” was released, Bernstein came to Rio de Janeiro to be a judge for the III International Song Festival of October 1968. Perhaps the world-renowned composer heard “Chorando baixinho” and saved it for a dreary day?
Here’s “Chorando baixinho” (Abel Ferreira, 1963)