Ah, bossa nova! If you remember, it’s the sound of a southerly summer. It’s jazz with a deep, dark tan, and warm wind rippling through its hair.
So this post (delayed offline by storm issues for a week) rises from an exchange between myself and WXRW-FM “Artful Lives” radio program Elizabeth Vogt. This prompted me to seach out a video of Astrud Gilberto singing the huge early 1960’s hit “The Girl from Ipanema” with Stan Getz, not included in my previous post about Getz. Here it is.
This is the “single” version of “Girl,” with Getz and his quartet, including a very young Gary Burton on vibes. This version is iconic, the key to a 2 million copy-selling album, the biggest hit album in jazz history at the time.
It’s interesting to note that, despite her vocal skill and charm, Astrud was not a professional singer, and you can see that in how she has no idea what to do with her hands. In fact, the recording of “Girl” was her recording debut. a stroke of producer genius!
Just for fun, here’s a rather sultry cartoon version of the single (sorry about the ad):
Courtesy Walt Disney studios.
However, the greatest version of the song is the full-length original on the album, which opens with Joao Gilberto (Astrud’s husband) singing the first verse in Portuguese, with exquisitely tender poignance, as the boy in Ipanema whom “she just doesn’t see.” Here’s that recording from the extraordinary album Getz/Gilberto.
On the original single heard here, the piano playing, and piquant solo, is by the song’s composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, the greatest Brazilian jazz composer. Vinícius de Moraes.wrote the Portuguese lyrics. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel.
Here’s the fascinating backstory on the song, including the woman who inspired it.
“The Girl from Ipanema” was inspired by Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto (now known as Helô Pinheiro), a seventeen-year-old girl living on Montenegro Street in Ipanema. Daily, she would stroll past the Veloso bar-café, not just to the beach (“each day when she walks to the sea”), but in the everyday course of her life. She would sometimes enter the bar to buy cigarettes for her mother and leave to the sound of wolf whistles. In the winter of 1962, the composers saw the girl pass by the bar. Since the song became popular, she has become a celebrity.
In Revelação: a verdadeira Garôta de Ipanema (“Revealed: The Real Girl from Ipanema“) Moraes wrote that she was “the paradigm of the young Carioca: a golden teenage girl, a mixture of flower and mermaid, full of light and grace, the sight of whom is also sad, in that she carries with her, on her route to the sea, the feeling of youth that fades, of the beauty that is not ours alone—it is a gift of life in its beautiful and melancholic constant ebb and flow.” – Wikipedia