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The Girl From Ipanema and Yesterday: Music's Most Popular Songs
She strolled in her bikini across the glistening beach to the water, to a bar, passing men yet never glancing. Quite the opposite of what the men did back in 1962 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (or now, for that matter). She was not blonde, but a 5 ft. 8 in. brunette, young adult with a nice shape. The songwriters were in search of inspiration for a new song as they sat at the seaside bar, Veloso, watching and waiting for it. The bar was in the suburb of Rio, called Ipanema. For several days, they observed this teenager strut pass men on the beach totally oblivious to the male eyes watching her, go to the water, come out of the water, walk to Veloso, buy a soda, walk back to the towel. That is when the idea for the world's second most ever covered and copied song began: The Girl from Ipanema. It still is Brazil's most famous export.
The song was a hit in Brazil and it reached the American shores in 1963, during the Bossa Nova dance craze. The girl who did the strutting is Heliosa Pinto, now 66 yrs. When the song was covered for the US audience, the Spanish singer had never sung professionally and was nervous. The record shows it because she mispronounces English words, yet, no one ever noticed it because of her sexual, sultry, delivery that few have been able to copy. Her delivery contains an aloofness that matches the lyrics- the girl is unobtainable for any man. She is too beautiful.
The Girl from Ipanema was a smash hit that stayed on the charts for a very long time and it was then, as now, played often and everywhere. The melody is one that lingers in your head after one listening. In 1965, it won a Grammy. Thousands of singers have since covered it.
For Paul McCartney, he woke up one morning with an odd little tune in his head. He played around with and some lyrics, but did nothing with it for almost a year. During that time,he called it "Scrambled Eggs". When he played for John, he liked it and helped with some of the words, yet asked, "How can this be a Beatle song"? It was 1965, Beatlemania had saturated the airwaves. Paul played for their producer, George Martin. He knew instantly it would be a hit. But, what would the other Beatles do in this solo acoustic number? Ringo tried some drum bits that were discarded. John sang parts, that were discarded. George tried to get guitar licks in, but that failed. In the end, the single was released with just Paul singing with his guitar. It was Paul's first solo hit, though, labeled The Beatles. While Paul did pen most of the song, John did contribute with some lyrics, hence, a Lennon-McCartney song.
The song baffled all of the Beatle fans. Many did not like it, too slow, too nice, no drums, bass. While they had done other beautiful ballads (And I love Her, If I Fell, This Boy) they were done as a band, each with a part. Yesterday was actually played more on non-rock stations more than teen stations. Old artists, as in Frank Sinatra, Elvis, covered the song more than any rock artists did. Paul's song was an anomaly for The Beatles. It was a song for the older generation of artists, not rock and roll.
Yesterday has been covered thousands of time by now and still is. It was #1 for so long, many fans were sick of it, skipped over it on a LP. That is what I do when listening to a Beatle CD with it.
Yesterday replaced the Girl from Ipanema as music's most popular and covered song then and today. If I had to choose which one to listen to, just give me the Girl ;).