Bossa Nova vibes for a week of cool–no exceptions!

All is back in balance! I was quite sure that once I landed at home I could change the course of the previous week…no more Sunspots! I was even able to extend my weekend by one day. Sophia and Karina spent Sunday afternoon through all day Monday at our  house and it’s always a pleasure. We’re eagerly enjoying the vestiges of easy overnights–Sophia begins Kindergarten next month and all routines are going to revolve around the intimidation of a school schedule.

But I will admit that my fight or flight responses got more workout than usual last week and it seemed incumbent that I regain some calming rest. I always know that one of the quickest reversals to internal noise is immersing in music, and that’s just what I did–all weekend long.

Did you know that according to studies conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center (and others) listening to music is believed to be good for your cardiovascular system? Music makes you feel good and in bringing a sense of joy the tissue in the inner lining of blood vessels dilates and blood flow increases. It’s similar to the endorphin release associated with laughter. I have wide tastes in music and find it easy to match my listening options with mood or the activity in the home. One favorite playlist includes a mix of  Afro-Cuban-Latin Jazz and if you want to see me smile, stop by while I’m cleaning house with the Gypsy Kings. But most of these options are lively. I wanted to really slow down.

Inspired by a story I heard on NPR  earlier in the week  I spent the weekend listening to the rather nebulous musical genre known as Brazilian Jazz. What is that? It doesn’t really exist as a specific form, but you know it when you hear it. Think Bossa Nova.

The Wall Street Journal contributor Thomas Vinciguerra talked about the second-most recorded pop song of all time–second only to the Beatles’ “Yesterday”– can you guess? Fifty years ago we were first introduced to “The Girl From Ipanema.”

The song came to the world via Brazil, when Antonio Carlos Jobim and poet Vinicius de Moraes were looking for musical inspiration and settled in a bar in the Ipanema district of Rio. According to story there really is a specific girl, Helo Pinheiro, now 66 years of age, who simply passed by and inspired them to write the whole song on cocktail napkins.

The song was first immortalized by Astrud Gilberto who had never sung professionally and perhaps because of the simplicity of her voice the song was all the more appealing. I spent the weekend with a variety of Brazilian artists, but primarily enjoying one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, Getz/Gilberto, a 1964 jazz album by saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist Joao Gilberto, who was Astrud’s husband at the time.

I think it’s impossible to listen to this very distinctive style of music and not feel tension fall away. It certainly worked for me! The good news is that wonderful recordings are available at very reasonable “used CD” prices. Fifty year old recordings don’t tend to be very costly!  I think if we all began to insert a little samba or bossa nova into our work weeks we’d smile a lot more!

We couldn’t get to a Brazilian beach, but we did have the opportunity to have dinner with friends in Dana Point Harbor, and I’ll take any opportunity to enjoy a view of the ocean. Dana Point is in southern Orange County and was named after Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author or Two Years Before the Mast. Dana described the charm of the steep cliff cove in the book, and called it “The only romantic spot on the coast.”

 I don’t yet know what this  bird is… I spend a lot of time at the ocean and have never seen one before. Anyone?

If some sort of solar activity begins to disrupt your quiet and calm this week, and that may just be heat, may I recommend a little Brazilian music to usher in a mental vacation? Really, it’s fine with me if you choose your own soundtrack, but do find time to enjoy some listening and  your autonomic nervous system will certainly thank you!

Now everybody….”tall and tan and young and lovely….”

57 thoughts on “Bossa Nova vibes for a week of cool–no exceptions!

  1. Sorry but I can’t help you with that bird. I love birds it’s just there’s so many of them I just can’t remember all their different varieties. I love Brazilian music too and we have some CDs that are instrumentals that I just love xx

    • I have had some good suggestions that the bird may be a sandpiper or night heron…I need to now look both of those up and I guess decide. I’ve neer seen one before and I’m at that marina fairly often! Aren’t we fortunate to have so much music available and so easily accessed! I do have a lot of Brazilian/Latin music and I never grow tired of it! :-) Debra

  2. I didn’t know the study done at the Maryland Medical Center, but I do know that music is good for me. Nice to have it medically confirmed. I, too, have a wide range of music taste, and I certainly know “The Girl From Ipanema”. But I didn’t know the story behind it, so thank you for sharing. Finally I love your pictures from Dana Point Harbor, looks like a really nice place. Stay in the music!

    • I didn’t know the story behind the story for “Ipanema” either, Otto, and I had fun sharing it. It’s very hard for me to believe it’s fifty years old, but it has been part of the soundtrack for some of us for most of our lives. We are so fortunate to have so many musical genres to choose from, and easily accessed! Thank you for stopping by today, Otto! :-) Debra

  3. Ahhhhhh. . . I was a budding teenager when this first played and remember it well, Debra. You found the perfect sound to settle in after your week that was and give us all something to fall back on in our own weeks. Just looking at your photo of Dana Point is settling. Thank you, Debra.

  4. Another cheer to your music. (I know the next comment is preaching to the choir.) One of the benefits of having eclectic taste in music is that not only does it enhance one’s appreciation, the wide collection allows one to find the music to fit the mood – to fit the need … and the world of music offers so much!

    • It’s very fun to create a soundtrack for our lives! My husband doesn’t share my eclectic tastes, but he is patient with me! Sometimes I have to choose to put on music I think will match his day and energy more than mine…I think sometimes he’s wishing I liked quiet a bit more! :-) I hope you’re still enjoying your XM stations, too, Frank! D

  5. That is a lovely harbor view, Debra. I have been listening to (and playing) music all week: I am flirting with a guitar player and will be singing back-up in a Woody Guthrie show on the 29th. Music adds so much to my life and yet I will go on music holidays (I hadn’t played guitar for a year because this has been “The Year of the Blog”). Now the blog runs pretty much on its own and I have picked up the guitar again.

    • How exciting to be art of a Woody Guthrie show, Sharyn! I noted it was his 100th birthday! I play the piano and my mom asked me the other day if I’d been practicing and I laughed. I said something similar to your “Year of the Blog.” I have to find a way to balance my music into everything else, and I haven’t yet figured that out! I am fortunate that I can listen to my personal playlists at work. That gives me a chance to get into a genre and really absorb it for at least a full day before moving on! If possible, share something about your show on the 29th. I think it’s great that you belong to such a musical company of friends, too…I would definitely enjoy that!

  6. Ah, a fellow NPR listener! I listen to a lot less music these days simply because I can’t resist hearing what’s on NPR when I’m by the radio! Ironic, isn’t it? LOL

    I, too, have a very wide range of musical tastes, but for relaxing and drifting, baroque music is my favorite. However, now I have the Girl From Ipanema song stuck in my head…. :)

    I tried looking up shore birds on Google Images, and I discovered at least 2 other people asking what that bird is! He’s an unusual fellow!

    • I think we end of being kind of information junkies with NPR, have you noticed that? There are just so many stories to follow! :-) I love classical music, too, and do listen often. I play classical piano, but have really been neglecting any practice since I started blogging. I wish I could figure out how to do it all! I think we have a winner on the bird. Nankeen Night Heron! I have never seen one before and I pay attention to shore birds! I’m so curious to know more about it, and see if I ever see one again! Thank you for looking up the Google images! I had more fun with the suggestions I received today. Some said Sandpipers, and they are close, but I think the Night Heron is it!

    • I think our friends at Putney Farms figured it out! It’s a Nankeen Night Heron! I have never seen one before so I am so excited to follow up and learn more. Music and poetry are so closely tied so I would, of course, know that you appreciate music. It definitely can lift moods and often very quickly! I am fortunate that in no more than an hour I can get to the ocean in at least three different directions! I think sometimes that helps me put up with a lot of nonsense living in the chaos of Southern California…the ocean is my reward for hanging in there! :-)

  7. I remember the song but was struck by the beehive hairdo. Gosh, I remember teasing my hair to get it to go like that. I visited Ipenema beach on a visit to Brazil and it’s not very glamorous although everyone was wearing really skimpy swimsuits (it was in the 70s). Lotsa eye candy!

    • Oh, that’s an exciting tidbit, Kate, to have been to Ipanema! Just to say you’ve been there is pretty great! And yes, the hairdo is so funny, isn’t it? We all teased our hair so much it’s a wonder it didn’t come out! Although I can also remember taking the hair from my hairbrush and putting it into little nets I used to boost my very flat, straight, hair! I’m glad that’s no longer necessary! :-)

    • You’re the winner! Thank you, Stewart! After checking out the link I was delighted to see that we had a name for our little shore bird. Are you familiar with them from your own experience? I’m at the beach a lot and over a wide swath from Malibu to San Diego and I have never seen one of these little guys! I do think he’s a Nankeen Night Heron! I am so glad you answered my call! :-)

      • Saw them as kids in the Low Country on South Carolina and Georgia (many moons ago). Didn’t know we have them in California- so kinda cool…

  8. Not only do I remember that song, Debra, and I remember that video. I must have seen it during some sort of retrospective. That song did have an impact and probably did a world of good for tourism to Brazil. I cannot imagine my world without music. Its health benefits are icing on the cake.

    • I agree that music is grounding and elemental! I also couldn’t imagine not being able to hear and then losing such a large part of my life. I found it fascinating that this particular song was the second most recorded of all time! I found a sound clip of Mike Tyson singing it which was pretty funny…but I loved the original. I don’t know if I’d ever seen it before, but I definitely remember when the song first aired and thinking it was special. I think the voice captured a lot of imaginations! :-) Thanks, John! D

    • I can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t find The Girl From Ipanema just charming, but I did read one review that equated it with elevator music. Oh well…but it has staying power. Most recorded, second only to “Yesterday.” That tells me it’s well loved! I had fun sharing it, Kate. I’ve been singing it for a couple of days now. :-)

  9. I love this post and Girl From Ipanema has always been a fav. My dad played it and other wonderful music from Brazil when I was a little girl… Lots if memories. ;-)

    • I know how much you enjoy music, too, Elizabeth. I really enjoy Brazilian rhythms. It was fun to think back to this special song…apparently if it’s the second most recorded song of all time I’m in good company! :-)

  10. No idea on the bird, I am afraid. Going to give surfing a go again in a month (when the Atlantic warms past 8 degrees C). Thing about Ireland is it doesn’t matter about the rain when you are getting a surf lesson. Sun spots? “Chance would be a fine thing”. Nevertheless, will now listen to the Beach Boys. Thanks for the beautiful post – made my lunchtime.

    • Thanks so much for commenting, Michael. I enjoyed our little Bossa Nova moment with the Girl from Ipanema! You can’t have a bad day listening to to good music…and I like the Beach Boys, too! :-)

  11. It seems like the best songs are written that way on the fly…writing too sometimes. Really enjoyed your post, and I so agree with you about music. It is wonderful for the heart. Sounds like you are on an even keel….love the photos too. Can’t guess on the bird… he is cute and what feet!!

  12. The Yo-Yo Ma collection of Brazilian music is one of my faves, Debra. Very smooth and relaxing. I didn’t hear a lot of that music when I went down there last year, but the food was out of this world. Very exotic and different from here.

    • Oh yes, Andra…we share our love of Yo-Yo don’t we! I love that Brazilian CD, too. You have traveled to some wonderfully different places…and Brazil would be a wonderful place I’d like to visit…maybe someday! :-)

    • I’ve been getting ready to leave town and haven’t been able to check back in, but thank you for stopping by…and I hope I may have inspired you to add in a little bit of music to your day! :-)

  13. I think were are able to relax with music because it takes us out of our element. When I hear Afro-Cuban or any Latin music I quickly become oblivious of my real-life surroundings and just start to dance! Love Dana Point Harbor–it’s truly the most serene beach site and leaves you speechless.

    • I love the way you describe how music transports you out of the everyday and opens up opportunities just to dance! So true! The California coastline really is beautiful, isn’t it? I hope you enjoy your weekend. Didn’t this week pass quickly! D

  14. Dear Debra, I can’t remember when I first heard that song, and I don’t think I heard it in maybe 50 years. So listening to it as Gilberto sang was a treat to end my Friday. I’m amazed that it is the 2nd most recorded pop song. That tells me that people all over the world listen to it.

    You know sometimes I discover a real chauvinism in my assumptions. Mostly I find the arrogance of so many of us who live in this country to be astounding and yet deep down I, too, can be a person who just thinks in terms of what America likes as the determinant of what all the world likes. Ah, another flaw! I have to paraphrase Whitman and say, “Am I flawed? Very well, then I am flawed. I am large. I contain multitudes!” …..of flaws! Peace.

    • I so delight i what you shared about lapsing into the belief that America determines what is popular or relevant. I wonder if we don’t all do that to some extent, but I agree with you in that it is flawed thinking. I love the way you brought Whitman’s words to further make the point! I can tell that my thinking has slowly broadened away from these assumptions, though, as a result of the many wonderful international conversations we are having through our blogging. It is an exciting time to learn about one another all across the globe!

      I remember when The Girl From Ipanema was first broadly played on the radio, and I wanted to be like that girl on the beach…it was before music videos, but I think it was paired with a television commercial and a beautiful woman walking across the sand. I would have been about 11 years old and thought she was the most glorious creature. Now I’m content to just really enjoy the music! :-) Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Dee. They always elevate my thinking!

  15. I love it that you made me think about those songs again. I always loved the Girl from Ipanema……we probably heard it together – probably singing it too. I certainly remember it being about the time I was 11 or so also!! Many fun memories came flooding back of our days growing up together. And, I was surprised you hadn’t thought about Blame It On the Bossa Nova with the title of this blog – that song hit my head the minute I saw the title of your blog!! LOL

    • A couple of people have mentioned Blame It On the Bossa Nova, but to be honest, I’d forgotten about it! :-) We were about 11 when The Girl from Ipanema first hit the U.S., but I think I remember it first as accompaniment for a commercial, and I thought the girl was beautiful! She made quite an impression on me! I’m glad you enjoyed the memories, too, Nancy!

  16. That’s a song I now know very well, Debra, ever since our eldest grandson was given it to improvise on by his trumpet teacher. :-) Music is so wonderful as a mood-enhancer that I can’t think why anyone need drugs…..

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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