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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

Amy Winehouse, Beehives and “Tears Dry On Their Own”

Last time I wrote about Ed Sheerin and of his success at this year’s Grammy awards. Back in 2008 it was Amy Winehouse who swept the board at the awards winning a total of six. Sadly just over three years later she was dead.

When writing earlier this year about David Bowie’s sad passing, and all the media outpouring it caused, I had momentarily forgotten what a massive news story it had been when poor Amy was found dead, at home, on a July afternoon in 2011. It was no big shock however as we had seen her life played out over the years on television and in the newspapers. After the massive success of her album “Back to Black”, her life seemed to descend into chaos – Don’t want to go into the detail here but she did appear to have serious addiction issues, relationship issues, an eating disorder and so it goes on. Were we all partly to blame? The press and paparazzi couldn’t seem to get enough of her and although her family seemed to be really supportive, in some ways they seemed to add to the feeding frenzy.

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I had seen Amy on television many times over the previous few years as she started out as a soulful, jazz-influenced singer who did really well with her first album “Frank”. For “Back to Black” however she had morphed into a 21st century version of a 1960s, American girl-group member (think Ronnie Ronette with tatoos and piercings). Every time we saw her, the beehive had got bigger and the eye make-up even more extreme but sadly, she also seemed to be getting thinner and more erratic in her behaviour. I remember watching the 2008 BRIT awards with great trepidation as she was due to perform Valerie with Mark Ronson. It actually went well but she did look “unworldly” and kept pulling at her short skirt and hair throughout the performance. We all hoped that she would get the help she so obviously needed as her talent was immense, and she had so much more to give.

My favourite song from Back to Black was Tears Dry On Their Own. Watching the video again however just reminds me of the chaotic and extreme world she seemed to be living in at that time which ultimately proved just too much for her.

Tears Dry On Their Own by Amy Winehouse:

It was at the end of 2009 that we moved our entire record collection to our new Apple Mac computer. All the CDs and downloads were now in one place which was great as personal playlists of favourites could be compiled by each member of the family. My playlists generally included an Amy Winehouse track and invariably it was this song. Very sad when you listen to it now knowing that she died aged only 27. I have written a lot about icons who have passed away since starting this blog but none were young like poor Amy and I have a feeling that for some, it is only a matter of good luck that they got through their “crazy period” intact. Wasn’t to be the case for this talented lady – RIP Amy.

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Tears Dry On Their Own Lyrics
(Song by Amy Winehouse)

All I can ever be to you
Is the darkness that we knew,
And this regret I’ve got accustomed to.
Once it was so right,
When we were at our high,
Waiting for you in the hotel at night.

I knew I hadn’t met my match,
But every moment we could snatch,
I don’t know why I got so attached.
It’s my responsibility,
And you don’t owe nothing to me,
But to walk away I have no capacity.

He walks away,
The sun goes down,
He takes the day
But I’m grown,
And in your way,
In this blue shade
My tears dry on their own.

I don’t understand
Why do I stress a man
When there’s so many bigger things at hand.
We coulda never had it all,
We had to hit a wall,
So this is inevitable withdrawal.

Even if I stop wanting you,

A perspective pushes through,
I’ll be some next man’s other woman soon.
I shouldn’t play myself again,

I should just be my own best friend,
Not fuck myself in the head with stupid men.

So we are history,
Your shadow covers me
The sky above,
A blaze.

I wish I could say no regrets,
And no emotional debts,
‘Cause as we kiss goodbye the sun sets

So we are history,
The shadow covers me,
The sky above,
A blaze that only lovers see,