Sammy Coulter & Company

The Story Behind The Song-- I Remember Rio



I Remember Rio

How I got an amorous couple from Spain to Brazil in four lines.

By Sammy Coulter


I believe it was Stevie Wonder who said, “songs are in the air, you just reach up and grab one. Songs come to writers in all kinds of ways. It can be an idea from something someone said or a business sign or bill board. Sometimes, as with “Coney Dog For One”, you dream the whole thing & then jump up & write it all down before you forget it. Other times it's a fleeting idea that just drifts into your head. That's how it was with “Rio”. A simple, abstract thought: “I Remember Rio, that's where you said goodbye”. Whoa, where'd that come from? Oh wait, that's good, I can use it! There's the beginning. Now, to flesh it out. Who is I and who is you? What were they doing in Rio & how did they get there & why'd he/she dump him/her ?


A story unfolds:

I was already beginning to form some musical ideas for this one—old jazz, like from the 20's. The story needed to be romantic & exotic. I envisioned myself in one of those old black & white moves. A wild, young couple on extended holiday. White tie tuxedos, lots of silk, the Tango, flappers, feathers & champagne... … Lots of champagne. A love affair. What's more exotic and romantic than an affair in Paris? Spain? Rio?


Okay, so they start in Paris, living it up like only carefree, young lovers can & then move on to Barcelona. By this time I've got two verses & the chorus. A third verse waiting in the wings will pull it all together and finish the story in Rio but, how do I get them there? In verse two they're in Spain. Suddenly in V3 they're in Rio. Transporter? Warp Drive? Um, not good. If I can't get them safely and, more important, interestingly across the Atlantic then the song is sunk and them with it!


Another verse was the obvious answer but not before the chorus. “The Rules” state you gotta get to the hook, the chorus, ASAP. or you loose the listener. Even two verses was pushing it. Plus, because of it's content, that verse I had 'waiting in the wings' HAD to come after the chorus. Ahh, how bout a modified verse? Change the feel and melody a bit? Bingo! “Traveling in style, across the Atlantic... now there's two verses and a third modified verse and verse 3 became verse 4. It worked.


Now we can move on to the Chorus but I don't really want to spill the “secret” just yet so now what?

When in doubt, Scat. Yup. I remember Rio za za zoo za zu zay.


Instrumental Verse: More scattin'? Why not? Do you remember the Otis Reding tune Fa Fa Fa? He did that fa fa thing only to explain the song to the musicians. It got left in cause it worked!

A horn solo would have been my first choice but this song moves pretty fast with only one beat between the instrumental verse and first word of the last verse. No can do for live performance! I did the scattin' thing on the original scratch recording to send to Peter Sullivan & decided I liked it. It stayed.


Why'd she leave? Why'd she say good bye? Hey, I gotta leave a little something for your imagination don't I? Who knows, maybe she'll come back in another tune!


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