The Girl From Ipanema Turns 50 This Summer
The Girl From Ipanema (Garota de Ipanema), quite possibly the best song ever written in any language, turns 50 years old this summer. Still walking like a samba, and still young an lovely, the joint effort of Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes sums up youth, wistful crushes, and of course, Rio de Janeiro and all that is incredible about Brazil. Written in 1962 and first sung by Pery Ribeiro, eventually the song was translated into English, and Astrud Gilberto, the wife of composer João Gilberto, proved to be a perfect fit for the song. Her slightly melancholy and yet hopeful voice proved to be the perfect instrument for Stan Getz’s English recording, which was released in 1964 and won a Grammy the following year. Countless other songstresses have taken on the lyrics about that girl who smiles but just doesn’t see: Cher, Amy Winehouse, Gal Gosta, Frank Sinatra and dozens others have tackled the song with sublime results. We are still waiting for Daniela Mercury to release her version. But nothing beats the original, and Astrud Gilberto will always shine that the song that says so much about 1960s jazz and pop and of course, a day people watching at the fantastic mid-century Ipanema district in Rio. No other song is successful at taking you to Brazil.
Photo of the Portuguese pavement at Ipanema courtesy Leon Kaye.