Friday, October 21, 2005

Useless Trivia

No, this isn't going to be one of my rants and raves about the Turkmenbashi. Recently I've become addicted to Nu Samba/Bossa Nova. Artists like Bebel Gilberto, Maria Rita, Monica Salmaso and Jazzamor.

While blundering around the web looking for info on the genre, I discovered that the early Samba song The Girl from Ipanema was written about a then 18 year old girl named Heloisa Pinheiro. That's her yakking on the phone in the picture to the right. The two composers of the song,Tom Jobim and lyricist Vinicius de Moraes, sat in a bar and watched her day after day -- apparently quite taken by her.


Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes - ah

When she walks, she's like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle
That when she passes, each one she passes goes - ooh

(Ooh) 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 (doesn't see)

(She just doesn't see, she never sees me,...)


Although it opened doors to a little bit of modeling and acting, she never made money off of the song. Apparently both Jobim and Moraes, inspite of being married at the time, chased after her and professed their love for her (Jobim supposedly told her he intended to marry her). However, she married an Engineer who ended up losing his job. Forced to be the breadwinner (hey, don't ask me why the bum couldn't get another job) and needing to care for a son who is brain damaged, she opened a boutique called The Girl from Ipenema.

In 2001 she was sued by the estates of Jobim and Moraes for using the song name as her store name. Apparently the widows of Jobim and Moraes were jealous over their late husbands obsession with her. Shopowners rallied behind her and quite the ruckus ensued.

Alas, I don't know the end of this story. I can't find further mention of it in English language papers on the web, and Portugese is ah... Greek to me. Oh well, I'll keep googling and listening to streaming Bosa Nova as I squander another Friday night.


Rick Ballard said...

I wish I had seen Ipanema at the time the song was written. I've stayed on the Copacabana and walked the promenade down to Ipanema and Leblon but I was a bit too old and Rio has become much too crowded and polluted. Brazil is a fun country to visit and the people rank with Costa Ricans and Italians in friendliness.

There is a very nice city larger than Chicago (in size, less than half the population) - Belo Horizonte - that few Americans have ever heard of. Some of the prettiest cityscapes imaginable can be seen from the surrounding hills.

Syl said...

Such smooth sounds. I rarely pay attention to words in songs. Oh, I'll remember a few phrases, but I never get what the songwriter thinks he's teaching me.


I love music. I love rhythm. I love the contrast in instrument sounds. I love the changing texture. I love the musical patterns playing against each other. I love dynamic soft to loud to soft. Slow to fast to slow. And I see music visually.

Guess my brain is too busy to pay any attention to the words.

Syl said...

Like who cares, but I love the Beatles for the music, not the words.

I only found out what Imagine means a couple years ago.

So, I guess, the sixties weren't my fault after all. :)

Unknown said...

Well that sucks.

I hope she wins the case.

I loved that song. I was just a kid then but I wanted to be as cool as the girl in that song.


I like some of the Beatles but not all.

I used to love The Who.

The magic bus.

ambisinistral said...

The search engine Kartoo finally led me to the answer. Poor Heloisa lost her case and had to change the name of her shop.

Of the case, some English laywer said (from Wikipedia): "If you have tears to shed, prepare to shed them now. [...] Her husband has been unemployed for the past five years. Their 22-year-old son suffered brain damage as an infant and requires special medical care. [...] Finished shedding tears? Then set aside sentiment, and explore who is right. Disregard the fawning press treatment and the ceremony held in her honor by the Ipanema merchants association, including the red carpet rolled out for the beloved heroine to tread upon as she memorialized her celebrated stroll. [...]
What did Helô contribute to "The Girl From Ipanema"? Not the words. Not the music. Not her appearance, her name, her publicity rights, or her privacy. Helô supplied the inspiration -- something perhaps more important than the conventional elements of intellectual property, but utterly unprotectable."

That doesn't seem right to me, after all she was the Girl from Ipanema. I recall a very early internet case where a Playboy Bunny was allowed to use the Playboy trademark in the meta tags of her web site because it was factual that she had been a Bunny. Seems like a person should be able to profit from the fact they were an inspiration.

Speaking of Playboy, in 2003 Heloisa did a photo spread with her daughter for Brazil's Playboy -- cultural differences aside, that's just plain creepy if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Astrid Gilberto, another lovely lass from South America, sang the song in her inimitable smoky jazz voice. One of my favourite songs, "The Girl From Ipanema".

Pastorius said...

Sounds like that story has the makings for a great Bossa Nova opera.

neo-neocon said...

More on The Girl and the song, especially the lyrics. The English version turns out to be quite different from the Portuguese.

Oh, and by the way, do you have an e-mail address? I wanted to send you one, and I couldn't figure out a way to do it. Perhaps it's hiding in plain sight somewhere, but I didn't see it.

ambisinistral said...


Thanks for the link above to a translation of the original Portuguese lyrics. Much nicer bit of poetry by a long shot. I particularily liked the last stanza:

Ah, if she only knew
that when she passes
the world smiles
fills itself with grace
and remains more beautiful
because of love

As for my email... hmmm, it isn't anywhere. Just stick a after my screen name.


Somebody puts it on and I'll be there. However, and there is no polite way to say this, it is a little hard to picture the Girl From Ipanema in an Opera Singer's frame.