While the history of the ‘British Invasion’ — the arrival of the Beatles and other British musical groups on American shores in the 1960s — is familiar enough, the British weren’t the only new arrivals.
The Brazilians — particularly João and Astrud Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and Sergio Mendes/Brasil ’66 — introduced a music perfectly suited for summer’s easy afternoons and languid evenings. Astrud Gilberto wasn’t the girl from Ipanema, but her association with the song has endured, and the performance linked above may be her most charming. Her English lyrics are perfectly understandable, and the Portuguese has a poetic lilt discernible even for those who don’t speak the language.
Olha que coisa mais linda
Mais cheia de graça
É ela a menina que vem e que passa
Num doce balanço a caminho do mar
Moça do corpo dourado do sol de Ipanema
O seu balançado é mais que um poema
É a coisa mais linda que eu já vi passar
Ah, por que estou tão sózinho?
Ah, por que 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
“The Girl From Ipanema” has been one of my favorites since its introduction. I’ve listened to it so many times that it often rises unbidden into consciousness, and every year, when the variety of flowers in the genus Ipomoea begin blooming, it comes to mind again. Finally, it seemed as though a new version of the song was in order: one designed to celebrate the flowers. It’s easy enough to meld new lyrics with the music, and you might enjoy following along with mine.
Long and thin and filled with color
The vines of Ipomoea go twining,
And where they wander
The dunes they cover go, “Ah!”
As they flower a light scent lingers
above the flow of wood-green waters,
And where it rises
The morning breezes go, “Ah!”
Oh, but they watch us so sadly.
How can they know that we love them?
Yes, they would give their hearts gladly,
But each day as we walk past their vines
we give them a glance, but no time.
Rose and white and blue and purple
The blooms of Ipomoea unfurl
And when we’re passing they shine,
But we never see
We just cannot see
No we dare not see
We so rarely see.