“Quiet thoughts and quiet dreams, quiet walks by quiet streams
And the window looking on Corcovado, oh, how lovely…”
– Astrud Gilberto “Corcovado”
Ever since I was 5, when I can first remember watching Disney’s “The Three Caballeros” and they influenced imagery of a romantic ocean-adjacent city with the song “Bahia”, the idea of Brazil and the sound of its music had me. I didn’t realize what I was getting into until I got a little older.
Growing up in the middle-class suburbs 30 minutes or so outside of Detroit, my musical influence on the radio was Motown, smooth jazz, and MTV playing pop-rock music. Though, something cool happens when your dad has the Getz/Gilberto album by Stan Getz and João Gilberto, a Sony Discman, and a tape cassette adapter – we can listen to that instead of the radio! My first time hearing “The Girl From Ipanema” and even at a young age, I understood what the song was about. The swing in the rhythm and the sultry vocals of Astrud Gilberto made the feeling of the song that much more apparent.
I really liked that song right then and there just because it sounded interesting yet smooth and relaxing.
The next song after that was “Doralice”. It’s fun and I like that too…
…after that, when “Para Machuchar Meu Coração” starts playing, I feel that “feeling” envelop me again. It’s so automatic with this style of music.
Ah, and then “Desafinado” right after it. A very similar sound to “Para Machuchar Meu Coração“. Every syllable and I’m falling more and more in love with the language as well.
But wait… what an interesting minor 6th chord hit on the piano for the first chord…
“Quiet nights of quiet stars…”, Astrud Gilberto begins singing…
“…Quiet chords from my guitar, floating on the silence that surrounds us.
Quiet thoughts and quiet dreams, quiet walks by quiet streams
And the window looking on Corcovado, oh, how lovely.”
Luckily, my dad had a subscription and a decent back collection to National Geographic… so we had an issue that had an article on Rio De Janeiro that featured a nice pictorial including photos of Copacabana beach, looking east-southeast towards the labeled Corcovado.
Also, having an included software atlas on Windows 3.1, I also realized that Ipanema was in the same country, Brazil.
These were the images that stuck with me throughout my life of a crescent-shaped beach, and a statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcovado.
I’d imagine lying in a beach chair of some sort as the sun was setting, listening to the song “Corcovado” while looking up at Corcovado and watching the sky reveal the “quiet stars” of a “quiet night”. I’d imagine I knew the lyrics and I would sing along in what I later learned was the native Brazilian Portugese. I’d imagine having a colorful iced drink in my hand… of course, I was still a kid and never had alcohol yet so it was imagined as something like those Dole fruit juices, which to be honest, would work just as fine. Alcohol tends to get me so relaxed I can forget the moment which I don’t really appreciate when I do want to savor something so beautiful.
At some point in my growing older, I learn the name “bossa nova” and it too finds its way to stick in my memory part of an often-visited dream montage.
If you don’t know, I have an appreciation of the summer olympics. In 2012, that appreciation was super-boosted with the awesomeness of the Fab Five and the U.S. swimming team. With the London 2012 olympics closing ceremonies, they previewed the 2016 summer olympics in Rio. I was so hyped about trying to figure out how I could get down there… whilst at the time in my life was such an awful, depressing time.
Maybe it was an escapism idea utilizing a dream I’ve had since I was younger, but it was such a fervorous intent at the time.
Unfortunately, the fervor didn’t last long as the transitions of my real life circumstances dissipated the energy. I did not make it to Rio De Janeiro.
The dream will always be there and will come to the surface on warm nights such as the one tonight that I am typing this. I will pull up the Getz/Gilberto album and start playing both the album and the dream.
Just a quick scientific note: When I was younger, I would imagine the sunset on the ocean when looking out from the beach. Since Copacabana beach is facing east towards the Atlantic Ocean, that sunset wouldn’t look like that. The only drawback but it’s superficial.
It’s still a dream I will and always have.
Having experienced so much loudness and stress as a recurring source of anxiety, I have come to appreciate the pause and the calm. Breathing easy, and losing worries to some peaceful environment. I have always appreciated the surf sounds. I was never really one to feel like I had to escape my problems. I have always thought to get through them somehow to a point of some resolve and then leave. Maybe that’s part of my anxiety; that I don’t always want to let go until resolve. Maybe I can learn from the escapist mindset… or maybe I already have more of it in me than I want to admit and act on. Bossa nova has me escaping mentally.
Bossa nova is used in cliché moments in TV and film of a guy trying to act “smooth” and get the girl “in the mood”. I appreciate that in a yeah-well-fine-it’s-jazz-I-get-it sort of way, but bossa nova to me is the soundtrack of a want to just relax. It will be the soundtrack of the moment I end up living out my dream and being enveloped in that now too familiar feeling that I can almost guarantee is love and peace for my being. The soundtrack of my relaxing.
Not just relaxing, but relaxing on location…
on a quiet night of quiet stars…
looking up at Corcovado…
Oh, how lovely.