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.”
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….”
- The Actual Girl From Ipanema (neatorama.com)