Sexy Music: “The Girl From Ipanema”

I don’t want to write much and take away from the power of the piece, but when I happened upon “The Girl From Ipanema” in my buddy’s mp3 collection, I knew I had found an all-time classic. Describing the daily stroll of a real-life teenage beauty in Rio de Janeiro, “The Girl From Ipanema” instantly earned its place as one of the timeless standards from the short-lived but well-remembered 1960’s heydey of the bossa nova sound.

The song’s sparse arrangement – a rhythmic classical guitar and a subtle jazz drum kit with accents of piano – builds gradually to accommodate male (Joao Gilberto) and female (Astrud Gilberto) vocal performances in Portuguese and English respectively and a soaring saxophone solo by Stan Getz.

(This is the long-form, bilingual album version.)

As a personal aside, thanks in part to this YouTube, I recently learned to play the song on the guitar.

It’s not a novice piece, but oddly enough, thanks to my long-time scholarship of the music of the Police and their harmonically expressive guitar work, the chordal subtleties came easily to me.

I was actually playing it this morning before I went to work. I’m telling you right now, just playing that song makes you feel sexy.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Sexy Music: “The Girl From Ipanema”

  1. Jack Amok

    Definitely a song that should be rescued from the dustbins of Muzak. Antonio Carlos Jobim was a master, but then what do you expect from a guy who invents an entire musical genre.

    BTW, there’s also a Frank Sinatra/Jobim version that’s really good.

  2. SayWhaat

    Ah, one of my favorite songs. I love whenever it pops up on my Pandora station. :)

  3. SayWhaat

    I find it more soothing than sensual, though.

  4. DC Phil

    I find the original Portuguese to be better than Astrid’s English version. It’s something about the Portuguese sound.

  5. Bossa Nova guitar in general is an excellent way to learn extended chords.

  6. Mike43

    And your thoughts on Classical Gas? There’s an innovative song, as well.

  7. DC Phil,

    Funny, I feel the opposite – I like the staccato of Astrud’s vocals and how she sounds kind of like the saxophone.

    Mike, haven’t gotten down with Classical Gas in a while.

  8. Random Angeleno

    I have that Getz/Gilberto CD. Good gosh, it is a real classic. I always make sure it’s in my set of music when I go on the road.

  9. Bob

    Bossa nova came out just as I became aware of music beyond traditional children’s music. It made me want even more to become an adult; if the music was better everything else might be, too.

  10. The Right Hon. Msgr. Fred Flange

    Just spotted this one late… The record is a classic and the arrangement is suited well for Astrid’s voice. But frankly, though easy on the eyes with a sexy whisper, she was not a very good singer herself. I have one of her solo LPs. It’s not bad, but she didn’t have the pipes to carry off a full set. Now her sort-of stepdaughter, Bebel Gilberto, can sing like a MOTHERFUCKER and she too is easy on the eyes.

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