Fans of the Hulu series The Bear may have heard something familiar in the fifth episode of Season 2, especially if they know anything about Tex-Mex-style music of the 1970s.
During the episode, Liza Colón-Zayas, who plays veteran chef Tina Marrero, sings “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” at a karaoke bar. The bilingual song was made famous by the late Tejano star Freddy Fender, who recorded it in 1974. The crossover ballad reached No. 1 on the Billboard Pop and Country charts.
The song begins, “If he brings you happiness, then I wish you all the best. It’s your happiness that matters most of all, but if he ever breaks your heart. If the teardrops ever start, I’ll be there before the next teardrop falls.”
Up to this point in the series, which follows the trials and tribulations of a kitchen staff in a Chicago restaurant, Tina has had trouble connecting with the younger chefs. Her character arc changes, however, once she steps up to the mic and performs the song. In doing so, she shares another side of herself that her co-workers have never seen as she herself blossoms in unexpected ways.
“That karaoke thing – I was so afraid of it. Liza was so afraid,” Colón-Zayas told Vulture. “I have karaoke trauma, and it ended up in the script.”
In another recent interview, she told TV Insider that although she doesn’t sing or “do karaoke,” she was glad the scene was written for her character’s growth. “It’s about allowing ourselves to move outside of our comfort level and in circles that I would normally not be a part of at all,” she said.
As for the song itself, Colón-Zayas wasn’t sure why The Bear writers chose Fender, but it was one that she knew very well. “I grew up listening to that song,” she said. “It was on the radio a lot when I was a kid, but somehow, it’s perfect.”
The first two seasons of The Bear are currently streaming on Hulu.