The Sound of Music

In Portugal, music surrounds you. Buskers of various talents decorate the tourist thoroughfares.  Musicians practice in parks. Bars and restaurants pack balconies and patios when a band is playing bosa nova or light jazz. Malls set the mood for buying with an uptempo mix of piped in music. Then there is the ever-present radio in cabs and ubers tuned to the least offensive channel for potential fares - usually some variation of the hits of the '80s.

Generally, the sound is pleasant and adds to the festive air of the day. Sometimes you will catch a phrase of English and realize the singer is interpreting some oldie from the US. Portuguese interpretations of American music are very popular here. And by interpretation, I mean interpretation.    Listening to some sultry singer crooning a love song that would be at home in any smokey lounge back home, I suddenly catch the lyrics. Think a Frank Sinatra wannabe singing "Hungry Like The Wolf" at about 1/4 tempo.  This happens a lot and always catches me off-guard.  Even when the song is being sung at almost the correct tempo, you realize by the phrasing that places emphasis on the wrong syllable, that the singer may not speak English and only has a vague idea of what he/she is singing.

Strangest of all, however, is the habit of malls to pipe in Christmas music all year round.  I guess their marketing staff thinks that it puts people in a buying mood. There is something surreal, however, about hearing "What Child is This" filling the air in the Merry Month of May.

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