Listening To: “The Girl from Ipanema” – Getz, Gilberto, Jobim

“The Girl from Ipanema”  (“Garota de Ipanema”) was written in 1962 by Antonio Carlos Jobim with original Portuguese lyrics by poet Vinicius de Moraes. The song became famous worldwide with its inclusion on the 1964 landmark Bossa Nova album Getz/Gilberto. Jobim originally composed the music at his home in the seaside Ipanema distritc of Rio De Janeiro. The photo above is of the girl who inspired the song, Heloísa Pinheiro.

Ipanema is one of the most exclusive and expensive beaches in the Rio area, swarming with sun worshippers, surfers and swimmers, and populated by numerous bars and cafes. If you’re planning to visit this place this summer, there are various swimwear for women at that you may want to check. One in particular, called Veloso at the time and located on Rua Montenegro, was frequented by Jobim.  It was here that he would regularly see a young teenage beauty (Heloísa) passing by outside or entering to buy cigarettes for her mother.  Jobim became smitten with the young girl and recruited Moraes to write a song about her.

Said Jobim, “She had long, golden hair, these bright green eyes that shone at you and a fantastic figure: let’s just say that she had everything in the right place. …” [Harold Emert, “Insight Guide to Rio de Janeiro” pp. 138-139]

The song’s original title was “Menina que Passa” (“Girl Who Passes”), but was changed for the album of collaborations between American jazz saxaphonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist/vocalist João Gilberto to “The Girl from ipanema” to give it a Rio touch.

The delicate, intoxicating vocals are provided by Astrud Gilberto, then wife of João. The song’s global success launched Astrud’s singing career, eventually earning herself the unofficial title, “Queen of Bossa Nova.”


“Girl from Ipanema” won the 1965 Grammy for Record of the Year with Getz/Gilberto winning for Album of the Year as well as Best instrumental Jazz Performance.  It was the first Bossa Nova song to earn worldwide popularity, and ushered in a craze in the 1960s akin to the disco craze of the 1970s, resulting in the inevitable downpour of watered down genre copycats that led to its unfair reputation as mere “elevator music.”

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3 thoughts on “Listening To: “The Girl from Ipanema” – Getz, Gilberto, Jobim

  • February 1, 2011 at 5:09 am

    I think I need to hang that girl up on wall as inspiration for my beach body. And to someday have a song written about me. Hmm.

  • February 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I agree. When I was researching this post, I was Googling a lot of photos of the beach at Ipanema, and collectively I think that collectively it boasts about .5% body fat. I’ll be doing a few hundred extra crunches every night between now and June, I assure you 🙂

  • February 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks for the post. I never knew the song had such fascinating origins, and I agree that good Bossa Nova cannot be beat.

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