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The Girl From Ipanema


RIO DE JANEIRO – “Garota de Ipanema” (“The Girl from Ipanema”) is perhaps the most famous bossa nova song ever, and maybe the most famous song to come out of Brazil. It became a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s winning a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Tom Jobim and lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes, with English lyrics later written by Norman Gimbel.

Stone Korshak, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of The Rio Times.

The song is so famous the title precedes itself, and I’m not proud to say it was only recently I matched the song name to the melody. This month is the thirtieth anniversary of Vinicius de Moraes‘ death, and so it seemed like a good time to have another listen.

Legend goes that “The Girl from Ipanema” was inspired by Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto (now Helô Pinheiro), a fifteen-year-old girl that past by the popular Veloso bar-café on her way to the beach, attracting the attention of regulars Jobim and Moraes. It’s not hard to imagine, having spent some time people-watching on the path to Posto 9 myself.

The first commercial recording was in 1962, by Pery Ribeiro. The version performed by Astrud Gilberto, along with João Gilberto and Stan Getz, from the 1964 album Getz/Gilberto, became an international hit, reaching #5 in the United States, including number one on the Pop Standard chart.

Like a handful of great songs, it transcended the language it was written in, but it is only now that I realize the English lyrics are not as close a translation as I’d imagined.

The lyrics in Portuguese by Vinicius de Moraes:
Olha que coisa mais linda
mais cheia de graça
É ela menina que vem e que passa
nun doce balanço, caminho do mar…

Moça do corpo dourado, do sol de Ipanema
O seu balançado é mais que un poema
é a coisa mais linda
que eu já vi passar…

Ah! Porque estou tão sozinho
Ah! Porque tudo é tão triste
Ah! A beleza que existe

A beleza que não é só minha
que também passa sozinha

Ah! Se ela soubesse
que quando ela passa
o mundo sorrindo
se enche de graça
e fica mais lindo
por causa do amor
por causa do amor
por causa do amor

And then the English language version of the song, by Norman Gimbel:
Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking,
And when she passes
each one she passes goes “a-a-ah!”

When she walks she’s like a samba
Swings so cool and sways so gentle,
That when she passes
each one she passes goes “a-a-ah!”

Oh, but I watch her so sadly,
How can I tell her I love her?
Yes, I would give my heart gladly
But each day when she walks to the sea,
She looks straight ahead not at me

Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking,
And when she passes I smile, but she doesn’t see,
She just doesn’t see, No she doesn’t see

Of course if you don’t speak Portuguese you won’t see the differences, but try running it through Google Translate if you’re curious.

Below is one of the few videos I found with Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes performing together, recorded in Milan in 1978.

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