“The Girl from Ipanema” Turns 50; Hear Its Bossa Nova Sound Covered by Sinatra, Krall, Metheny & Others

The first time I heard Stan Getz, Joao Gilber­to, and Astrud Gilber­to per­form “The Girl from Ipane­ma,” I could­n’t believe it was record­ed all the way back in 1963. That sur­prise owes a great deal to the skill of the record­ing engi­neers enlist­ed for that best­selling album, Getz/Gilberto. But it also has just as much to do with the com­po­si­tion cre­at­ed by Anto­nio Car­los Jobim and poet Vini­cius de Moraes, which pulls off the rare trick of imme­di­ate­ly and rich­ly evok­ing the ear­ly six­ties while remain­ing, in all the impor­tant ways, sim­ple and time­less. (It was as true when Gilber­to and Jobim reunit­ed to per­form the song as it was on the record.) They wrote the song fifty years ago next month, a span of time in which it has become the sec­ond-most cov­ered song of all time, right behind the Bea­t­les’ “Yes­ter­day”.

But why do the prover­bial dance about the archi­tec­ture when you can sim­ply lis­ten? “The Girl from Ipane­ma” — sec­ond only, of course, to “Yes­ter­day” — offers you the plea­sure of count­less thou­sands of inter­pre­ta­tions, per­son­al­iza­tions, and reimag­in­ings. Lis­ten to enough ver­sions, and you’ll feel as if you’ve exam­ined the song from every pos­si­ble angle, reveal­ing its vital essence. You can hear it from Frank Sina­tra, Amy Wine­house, Sam­my Davis Jr. Cher, Herb Alpert, Diana Krall, Don­na Sum­mer, and even Mike Tyson.

The song res­onates all over the world, pro­duc­ing cov­ers from Pizzi­ca­to Five in Japan, Odd-Arne Jacob­sen in Nor­way, Acoustic Cafe in Korea, and KOMPRESSOR in Ger­many. And just when you think it’s been played every pos­si­ble way, anoth­er artist, usu­al­ly one with with their own high­ly dis­tinc­tive trade­mark sound, most recent­ly gui­tarist Pat Methe­ny — finds a way to expand the canon:

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mon­day Ther­a­py: Getz and Gilber­to Per­form “The Girl from Ipane­ma”

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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