Saturday Single No. 529

Puttering in the EITW studio the other evening with half an eye on a hockey game and half an eye on Facebook, the remaining eye was wandering through mp3s in the RealPlayer, and for some reason, I searched to see how many versions of “The Girl From Ipanema” are stacked on the digital shelves.

I actually searched just for the term “Ipanema,” so I’d be certain to catch the gender-flipped versions – it turns out I have eight tracks titled “The Boy From Ipanema” – and those titled in a foreign language. And I learned that I have eighty-four versions of the tune, a fact that I idly shared on Facebook.

I got a few reactions, mostly chuckling face emoticons. The Texas Gal jokingly responded, “Delete them all!” And Jeff, the Green Bay-based proprietor of AM Then FM, warned me of an impending visit by the Completist Police. Well, I certainly didn’t do any deleting, and I don’t think I have to worry about the police quite yet: According to Second Hand Songs, at least 273 versions exist of the song written by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes and first recorded by Os Cariocas in 1962.

(From what I can tell at SHS, the first version to use the English lyrics crafted by Norman Gimbel was the 1964 release by Stan Getz and João Gilberto with Astrud Gilberto supplying the vocal.)

So, while the Completist Police may be some distance from my door, I do have plenty of Ipanema to keep me company while I wait for the (no doubt) musical knock on the door. The versions range along the timeline from Os Cariocas’ 1962 original to a cover released in 2013 by Andrea Bocelli (a version I got at Any Major Dude With Half A Heart, where the Half-Hearted Dude is celebrating his tenth anniversary). Now, Bocelli isn’t always to my taste, but when one begins to collect versions of a classic tune, one sometimes steps in unanticipated directions.

And those directions have brought me versions from the breathy Anita O’Day (1963), the horn of my man Al Hirt (1964), the pianos of Ferrante & Teicher (1964), the very easy listening of the Ray Charles Singers (1964), the vibraphone of Freddie McCoy (1965), the sax of King Curtis (1966), the Hammond organ of Denny McClain (1969), the a capella sounds of the Swingle Singers (2002), and many more.

Do I have a favorite? Probably the Getz/Gilberto/Gilberto version. (The entire Getz/Gilberto album never strays far from one or another of the CD players.) Of more recent vintage, though with a similar sense, is the 1998 version by Brazilian singer (and pianist) Eliane Elias, who recorded “Garota De Ipanema” for her album Eliane Elias Sings Jobim. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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