Image Music Bossa Nova Helo Pinheiro Creative Commons e1714435417625

Tall, tan, young and lovely, the infamously nostalgic song “Girl from Ipanema” completed 56 years in 2018. A beautiful young woman, who caught the eye of the songwriter, inspired the world famous Bossa Nova tune. But as the lyrics suggest, she would pass right by him and just keep walking to the ocean not even noticing him. This heartbroken songwriter/poet was Vinicius de Moraes.

He got together with Bossa Nova king Tom Jobim, and magic was created. Their collaboration was a perfect marriage of beautiful lyrics and soothing music. This girl who “swings so cool and sways so gently” first stepped out in public on August 1962, in a cramped Copacabana nightclub. The small club was 20 by 130 feet and sold out every night. Patrons realized something extraordinary was happening on the cramped little stage.

Bossa Nova was still young back then and was somewhat of a novelty, even in Rio, but the people couldn’t get enough. The name Bossa Nova means “New Trend” and that’s exactly what it was. Bossa Nova was a fresh, cool jazzy take on Brazil’s holiest tradition, samba music. 1962 was also the year that Americans first heard Bossa Nova. The record “Jazz Samba” by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd took the sounds of Brazilian music and filtered it through the simplicity of Americans musicians, making it palatable to the country’s listeners. Although an instrumental jazz album, it remained on the Billboard charts for 70 weeks!

Image Music Bossa Nova Tom Jobim Creative Commons e1714435506688It wasn’t until 1964 that “The Girl from Ipanema” came to the U.S with its English lyrics written by American Norman Gimbel. The words are a bit different from the original Portuguese version, but remain true in spirit. The Getz/Gilberto album eventually won the 1965 Grammy for best album of the year and suddenly, everyone was talking about “The Girl”. According to Performing Songwriter Magazine, “The Girls from Ipanema” became the most second re-recorded song in all of history after “Yesterday” by The Beatles. Among several famous singers that have recorded the song are Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Madonna, Cher and Amy Winehouse.

The popularity that Brazilian music enjoys today around the world is tightly related to Bossa Nova and its brilliant musicians such as Marcos Valle, Joao Gilberto, Vinicius de Moraes, Edu Lôbo and Antonio Carlos Jobim (aka Tom Jobim). In the top three best known Brazilian songs around the world two are under the genre Bossa Nova, Águas de Março(1972) or Water of March composed by Tom Jobim and The Girl from Ipanema (1962) composed by Vinicius de Moraes. The third one is Aquarela do Brasil (Portuguese), written in 1939 by Ary Barroso and known in the English-speaking world simply as “Brazil”, under the genre of Samba.

* If you are a fan of that unmistakable Brazilianness that gives a special magic to any rhythm, lyrics and melody made in this continental mixed country, be sure to follow Soul Brasil’s profile on Spotify or read this another article HERE.

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