Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Astrud Gilberto - The Girl From Ipanema

Astrud Gilberto
The Girl From Ipanema

Released 1962 on Polydor
Reviewed by KosmischeSynth, 22/01/2011ce

The girl from Ipanema
Goes walking
Soft and sound
The way she's walking
Everyone looks in her eyes
But not at her

Soft and sound
Bright and blue
The girl from Ipanema
Passes but doesn't see
She looks at the sky
But not at him

Bright and blue
The girl goes walking
Passing the sky
Looking at him
He looks into her eyes
But not at her

* * *

The vibraphone spirals down a waterfall of swirling chords inviting you to a leather armchair in a smoky Rio de Janeiro bar where dancing girls are never far away. Cigarette-holders and Swiss-cheese plants; the symbols of decadence, a jazz band strikes up in an inaudible blue and foggy corner where tassels and feathers usurp the colours leaving the band in black and white. The singer is a thin girl with her body in the shape of a triangle, her hair elaborately knotted and Argentine eyes delicately peering through the blue smoke to distant lands of serpentine springs and indigenous cattle. Her voice has the same mysterious vogue, and each syllable of her song pronounces itself separately between her great, quivering lips that grew under swaying acacia trees far away in the flying sunlight.

A drummer positioned behind the plantpots of the nightclub's facade stares at his sticks as they tap away a nonchalant metronome sound made by trams crossing uneven rejoinders in their tracks in downtown San Francisco. His blue eyes fear to behold the fluffy white clouds of northern hemisphere existence and so he glances to the gutter where empty cigarette packets clog the high altitude drains. The Pacific air flies in carrying the scent of the Orient to the entire scene, thatched huts in the deepest Indochinese jungle where glowing eyes of tiger illuminate the heart of the forest in amber reflections. Here sits the vibraphone player, holding three sticks in each cloven hand, watching only his own movements and ignoring the jungle fern growing over his shoulder. He dresses in a cream suit with a rippling white cravat and a carnation in the buttonhole. His brown hair is flicked back in an impressive quiff above ebony-rimmed spectacles through which he peers intently.

The canvas is punctured by the mourning brass saxophone - betraying the reality of the scene. The singer takes three elegant steps back and the saxophonist commands the observer's attention. He is somewhat smaller and fatter than the others, perspiring profusely and harnessed like a beast of burden to his golden instrument. His green apparel rebels to the eye, distinguishing him from his monochrome companions. He stares high into the sky, the Arabic twinkle of the One Thousand and One Nights giving purple shimmer as confetti to the Brazilian night. The vast dark sky opens up before us, each star a living organ of the indivisible universe, softened by the velvet brush of his accented tones - silent and watching, translating his thoughts to us directly as he plays to each star individually, taking its failing light and blowing the embers aflame again.

The pink fades to a resolute black as the last light goes out in the sky and we fall to earth. Like awakening from a dream, the end of the song is the end of the night. What is left to do but order another scotch then slide through the fog and varnish to the cold cotton beds where the stars are always alive.

-KosmischeSynth 21/1/11

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