Flying Down To Rio, Ipanema and The Copacabana

Well, many apologies to anyone new to this blog as this post is not representative, but I just couldn’t let the massive event that is the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, commonly known as Rio 2016, pass by without a musical mention. So in one fell swoop I’m going to get all those songs out of my system and into the blog so that I can move on to other, more worthy contenders.

rio 2.png

The Opening Ceremony last Friday night was impressive indeed but of course nothing could have ever surpassed the joy I felt watching Danny Boyle’s “Isles of Wonder” Opening Ceremony at London 2012. But hey that was our Olympics, where we showed the world what we were all about and what with Mr Bean, James Bond, parachuting monarchs, Mary Poppins, Dancing NHS nurses and 50 years of music, I think we did that with bells on.

In terms of mood, Athens was apparently Classical, Beijing Grandiose, London Smart but Rio was going to be Cool. Well I don’t know about cool but it was definitely very green, in every sense of the word and also very sensual. We watched supermodel Giselle sashay (to walk in a slow and confident way that makes people notice you – tick) across the arena to the strains of Girl From Ipanema – Yes very sensual indeed. This song was about the only one I would have associated with Brazil, as the whole of South America, being non-English speaking, is still pretty much a mystery to me in terms of its music and film. The Girl From Ipanema was recorded by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz in 1964 and immediately became an international hit. It is a song I have always loved but it was not until last week that I came to understand that it was of a “bossa nova” persuasion. Brazil in the early ’60s developed a genre called “new wave” (bossa nova) but unlike in ’70s Britain, their genre didn’t involve safety pins, Johnny Rotten or agitated guitar playing, oh no, they combined samba with jazz to create a whole new sultry sound, the sound of Brazil.

Girl From Ipanema:

And so we come to my musical montage, and just to warn you this is not going to be pretty! The whole point of revisiting the “tracks of our years” is that they shouldn’t be carefully thought out so as to weed out all the slightly embarrassing stuff, it should just flow, and as some of my fellow bloggers know, some very dubious tracks can come out of the woodwork.

To kick things off I have a couple of very obvious contenders – Rio by Duran Duran and Gold by Spandau Ballet. Had I been a young teenager in 1983 I would have probably joined in the rivalry between their groups of fans, called Duranies and Fan-daus respectively, but I was too old for all that malarkey by then and was far too busy perming my bleached hair, visiting the sunbed and laundering my all-white clothing anyway. Yes Tony, those were my salad days!

Ok enough of all that but as Simon Le Bon sang, “Her name is Rio”, Dolores del Rio to be precise and if not for her, the magical pairing between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers might never have happened. If anyone asked me what my favourite three films were, I would have to include as one choice, the complete set of 1930s RKO musicals starring aforementioned Fred and Ginger. They first paired up in the 1933 film Flying Down to Rio and although Dolores del Rio was the main star along with Gene Raymond, it was Fred and Ginger who sparkled in that one and in no time at all they were the ones getting top billing.

dolores del rio.jpg

But enough of all that because also Flying down to Rio, this time in the 1970s, was that erstwhile Monkee Mike Nesmith who had by this time set up his own music video company (which explains a lot).

Of course having reached Rio you may want to head to the beach and what is the name of the beach again? Why it’s the Copacabana, and although Barry Manilow in 1978 wasn’t singing about the beach (he was singing about the New York nightclub), it is a story song with a very Latin vibe.


Just to be a bit different I won’t include Barry Manilow’s version but one from the television show Glee, which we used to watch with my daughter who was a bit of an afionado of musical theatre herself. The kids are having a bit of a meeting here and it could be called ELA (Easy-Listening Anonymous) where one by one they actually admit to loving the work of Barry Manilow. Anyone reading this blog will know that I myself would be a frequent attender of ELA if it existed, so glad to see that these cool kids are similarly afflicted.

And there we have it except that I want to include just two more clips, one simply as a reminder of just how differently we did things in London, and the other just because it feels right.

We don’t really do sultry samba combined with jazz in Britain, but we are very good at the old rock and pop, and the stand out performance for me was when The Arctic Monkeys got on stage at London 2012 to perform The Beatles’ Come Together. Loved those guys on bicycles, and what a great sound from Alex Turner and the boys. Summed the whole thing up for me really.

Although I just pointed out that we don’t really do sultry jazz in Britain, of course we very much did when the late Amy Winehouse was still with us and this is a great version of the “song of the moment” from her. Enjoy.

Back to business as usual for next time but phew, glad I’ve got it all out of my system. I will now just concentrate on the sport (albeit all happening during the night in the main) and I hear from hubby that Chris Froome has just won a medal, so well done him.

Girl From Ipanema Lyrics
(Song by Antônio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes/Norman Gimbel)

Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes, “Aaah…”
When she walks, she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gently
That when she passes, each one she passes goes, “Aaah…”
Oh, but he watches so sadly –
How can he tell her he loves her?
Yes, he would give his heart gladly,
But each day when she walks to the sea,
She looks straight ahead – not at he…
Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, he smiles, but she doesn’t see…

Oh, but he sees her so sadly –
How can he tell her he loves her?
Yes, he would give his heart gladly,
But each day when she walks to the sea,
She looks straight ahead – not at he…
Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, he smiles, but she doesn’t see…
She just doesn’t see…
No, she doesn’t see…
But she doesn’t see…
She doesn’t see…
No, she doesn’t see…

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

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