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.