“Cotidiano” and “Comprimido”

Lyrics from “Cotidiano” by Chico Buarque (1971) and “Comprimido” by Paulinho da Viola (1973)


Todo dia ela faz tudo sempre igual/ Every day she does everything just the same
Me sacode às seis horas da manhã / She shakes me at six o’clock in the morning
Me sorri um sorriso pontual/ Gives me a punctual smile
E me beija com a boca de hortelã / And kisses me with a mouth of mint

Todo dia ela diz que é pra eu me cuidar/ Every day she says I must be careful
E essas coisas que diz toda mulher/ And all those things every woman says
Diz que está me esperando pro jantar/ She says she’s awaiting me for supper
E me beija com a boca de café/ And kisses me with a mouth of coffee

Todo dia eu só penso em poder parar/ Every day I only think of being able to quit
Meio dia eu só penso em dizer não/ Midday I can only think of saying no
Depois penso na vida pra levar/ Then I think about the life to be led
E me calo com a boca de feijão/ And silence myself with a mouth of beans

Seis da tarde como era de se esperar/ Six o’clock in the evening just as to be expected
Ela pega e me espera no portão/ She goes and waits for me at the [factory] gate
Diz que está muito louca pra beijar/ She says she’s really crazy for a kiss
E me beija com a boca de paixão/ And kisses me with a mouth of passion

Toda noite ela diz pra eu não me afastar/ Every night she pleads for me not to go away
Meia-noite ela jura eterno amor/ At midnight she swears eternal love
E me aperta pra eu quase sufocar/ And she squeezes me til I almost suffocate
E me morde com a boca de pavor/ And bites me with a mouth of terror

Todo dia ela faz tudo sempre igual/ Every day she does everything just the same
Me sacode às seis horas da manhã/ She shakes me at six o’clock in the morning
Me sorri um sorriso pontual/ Gives me a punctual smile
E me beija com a boca de hortelã/ And kisses me with a mouth of mint

Lyrics from “Comprimido” by Paulinho da Viola (1973)


Deixou a marca dos dentes/ He left her teeth-marks
Dela no braço/ In his arm
Pra depois mostrar pro delegado/ To show the police officer
Se acaso ela for se queixar/ In case she were to go complain
Da surra que levou/ About the beating she took
Por causa de um ciúme incontrolado/ On account of uncontrolled jealousy

Ele andava tristonho/ He’d been forlorn
Guardando um segredo/ Keeping some secret
Chegava e saía/ He was always in and out
Comer não comia/ Eat — he didn’t eat
E só bebia/ He just drank
(Cadê a paz?)/ (Where’s the peace?)
Tanto que deu pra pensar/ So much so that it became possible to think
Que poderia haver outro amor/ That there might be another love
Na vida do nego/ In the life of the nego
Pra desassossego/ Causing disquiet
E nada mais/ And nothing more

Seu delegado ouviu e dispensou/ The officer heard and dismissed the case
Ninguém pode julgar coisas de amor/ No one can judge affairs of love
O povo ficou intrigado com o acontecido/ People were intrigued by what had happened
Cada um dando a sua opinião/ Everyone giving their opinion
Ela acendeu muita vela/ She lit many candles
Pediu proteção/ Asked for protection
O tempo passou/ Time passed
E ninguém descobriu/ And no one discovered
Como foi que ele/ How it was that he
Se transformou/ Transformed

Uma noite/ One night
Noite de samba/ A night of samba
Noite comum de novela/ An everyday soap-opera night
Ele chegou/ He arrived
Pedindo um copo d’água/ Asking for a cup of water
Pra tomar um comprimido/ To take a pill
Depois cambaleando/ Then staggering
Foi pro quarto/ He went to their room
E se deitou/ And laid down
Era tarde demais/ It was too late
Quando ela percebeu/ When she realized
Que ele se envenenou/ He’d poisoned himself

Seu delegado ouviu/ The officer listened
E mandou anotar/ And asked it be taken down
Sabendo que há coisas/ Knowing there are things
Que ele não pode julgar/ That he can’t judge
Só ficou intrigado/ He just grew intrigued
Quando ela falou/ When she said
Que ele tinha mania/ He’d had this habit
De ouvir sem parar/ Of listening over and over
Um samba do Chico/ To a samba by Chico
Falando das coisas do dia-a-dia/ That talked about day-to-day things…
Só ficou intrigado/ He just grew intrigued
Quando ela falou/ When she said
Que ele tinha mania/ That he’d had this habit
De ouvir sem parar/ Of listening over and over
Um samba do Chico/ To a samba by Chico
Falando das coisas do dia-a-dia/ That talked about day-to-day things…

— Commentary —

Screen Shot 2020-06-17 at 11.32.47 AM
Workers at the Volkswagon Factory in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, 1967. Photo by Marcel Gautherot, via IMS.

I recently watched Chronicle of a Summer (1961), the pioneering cinéma-vérité documentary that French director Jean Rouch made with sociologist Edgard Morin by simply asking an assortment of Parisians on camera, Are you happy? A scene of factory workers interviewed around minute 16 so closely echoes the lyrics of “Cotidiano” that I wondered if it was an inspiration for Chico. A jaded worker tells the filmmakers how dreadfully monotonous his life is: from the invariable 6 a.m wake-up, to the same train station, through the same gates, to clock in… The fed-up worker goes on, “In the morning when I get to the factory gates, I get a feeling, I feel certain I’ll rebel. Then I think to myself, ah, what the hell!”

Of course, that story — of existential boredom and inescapability — captures a fairly universal response to urban industrial life, and who knows if that particular French worker was really Chico’s muse. (If I ever find out more about that, I’ll update the post.) And Chico’s song goes further, showing how the drudgery of daily working life extends into the home: stifling monotony breeds contempt, anxiety, and potentially violent outbursts, as with the woman’s bite. The song’s straight-forward repetitive melody, repetition of certain phrases (e.g. “with a mouth of…”) and repetition of the first verse at the end reinforce the oppressive predictability narrated in the lyrics.

Chico Buarque released “Cotidiano” on the 1971 album Construção, which includes several denunciations of the bleak circumstances of urban workers in Brazil. The title track, “Construção,” narrates the final moments of a construction worker who falls to his death.

“Cotidiano” apparently inspired Paulinho da Viola to compose “Comprimido,” the story of an abusive marital relationship — the lyrics open with the bite marks on the man’s arm, immediately recalling “Cotidiano,” but we then hear of the husband’s abusiveness as well — and, ultimately, the man’s suicide. That suicide becomes intriguing to the otherwise disinterested police officer when he hears that the man who killed himself had developed a habit of “listening over and over to a samba by Chico that talked about day-to-day things.” (“Cotidiano,” of course, means quotidian, or the day-to-day.) Paulinho released “Comprimido” on his 1973 album Nervos de Aço. 

For deeper analysis of Chico’s “Cotidiano,” and its place within the album Construção, see Charles Perrone’s Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Song, pp. 21-28

1 thought on ““Cotidiano” and “Comprimido””

  1. Fascinante, Victoria! I wasn’t familiar with either song, but it’s so interesting when one song inspires another.

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