Sunday, January 13, 2013

Story Songs: The Girl from Ipanema

I believe most of  us have had crushes on someone only to be ignored, or worse yet, to be invisible.

That's what comes to mind when I listen to "The Girl from Ipanema," a huge international hit in 1964 for singer  Astrud Gilberto, guitarist-singer Joao Gilberto, and American jazz great Stan Getz.   It reached No. 5 on the U.S. charts. 

The bossa nova tune, with lyrics by poet Vinicius de Moraes (Portuguese) and Songwriters Hall of Famer Norman Gimbel (English) and music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, is about a beautiful young woman who strolls to the ocean at the each day. As we used to say a few years ago, she was a looker.

"Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes, 'ah'"

The description of the way she moves as being like a samba also brings a image of casual grace and sexy:

"When she walks, she likes a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle
That when she passes, each one she passes goes, 'ooh'"

Part of her cool demeanor is going about her business without noticing the admiring glances:

"But each day she walks to the sea,
She looks straight ahead, not at me"

And later:

"And when she passes I smile -- but she doesn't see
She doesn't see, she never sees me."

I know the feeling. Sigh.

Photo by Sergio (Savaman)  Savarese
The girl in the song is based on Helo Pinheiro, who was 19 at the time the song was written. She is still quite a looker at 69.

The song is reportedly the second most recorded tune in history, behind The Beatles' "Yesterday." Among the luminaries who have versions are Frank Sinatra, Amy Winehouse, and Kenny G.

"The Girl from Ipanema" won the Grammy for  Record of the Year in 1965. The song is a timeless classic that I never tire of hearing.

"The Girl from Ipanema" lyrics

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