"She is the paradigm of the carioca type; a golden woman, a mixture of flower and mermaid, full of light and grace but whose vision is also sad, because she carries with her, on her way to the sea, the feeling of what is passing, the beauty that is not ours - it is a gift of life in its beautiful and melancholic constant ebb and flow".
These are the words of one of the two musicians who composed one of the most universal melodies, based on that paradigm in the form of a woman.
I was tired of it all, of so many roads
So without poetry, so without birds
Afraid of life, afraid to love. When in the empty afternoon, so beautiful in space I saw the girl who came with a step. Full of swing, on the way to the sea.
This was the original lyric, which they didn't quite like and they changed it: the two musicians were in the Veloso bar, on the corner of Prudente de Morais and Montenegro, a bar that still exists (although with a different name) and in the same place, although one of the streets has taken the name of one of the musicians. They also changed the name of the song, which was 'Menina que passa'.
The debut of the composition was in 1962 at the Au Bon Gourmet club and began with a dialogue between the musicians after Tom's first chords:
João: Tom, what would happen if you wrote a song now, one that could tell us, tell us about love?
Tom: Well, João, I wouldn't know, without Vinicius to write the poetry
Vinicius: If this song came true, I'd like João to sing it...
João: Ah, but who am I? I'm not better than you, it would be better if the three of us sing.
And these three were Tom Jobin, Vinicius de Moraes (the two musicians from the Veloso bar) and João Gilberto. And then the song was played:
Olha que coisa mais linda, mais cheia cheia de graça
Ela é a menina que vem e que passa
Num doce balanço caminho do mar
Moça do corpo dourado do sol de Ipanema
O seu balançado é mais que um poema
É a coisa mais linda que Eu já vi passar...
The Garota (girl) of Ipanema, the inspiration for this bossa nova, was Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, known as Helô Pinheiro. Jobin and Moraes told her a few years later, in 1965, and Helô's life was turned upside down. In fact, Tom Jobin even asked her to marry him, but had to settle for being the best man at her wedding.
And the Garota de Ipanema has been interpreted by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Nat King Cole, Cher or Madonna among many others. Or in French by people like Nana Mouskuri. There is even a version of "Boy of Ipanema" sung by Shirley Bassey, Ella Fitzgerald, Petula Clark, the Supremes or Diana Krall.
Helô became a reference point for bossa nova, for Ipanema, even for Rio de Janeiro, along with samba, carnival, Corcovado, the Sugar Loaf, Açaí, Copacabana, caipirinha and Christ the Redeemer.