It’s a legendary story. Saxophonist, Stan “The Sound” Getz had been experimenting with Brazilian rhythms and in 1963 made a record with a couple of Jazz Samba “pioneers,” pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim and guitarist/vocalist João Gilberto.
Recorded in New York, one of the tracks was a song that Jobim had written about an actual young woman who was known to attract a lot of attention around Rio’s upscale Ipanema district. Entitled The Girl From Ipanema, the lyrics were all in Portuguese. But after Gilberto had recorded his vocals the producer decided that part of the number should be sung in English for maximum crossover potential.
With no professional musical experience of any kind, the only person at the session with a strong grasp of both languages was Gilberto’s wife, Astrud. Coaxed by her husband into singing the second verse in English, her hesitant, heavily accented performance helped to catapult the song up the pop charts, where it peaked at Number 5 in the U.S. and Number 29 in the UK.
Although Astrud’s participation was uncredited, Getz/Gilberto (as the record was called) became the best-selling jazz album up to that time, based in large part upon the phenomenal success of The Girl From Ipanema.
That impromptu professional singing debut also launched a fine career. Born as Astrud Weinert (her father was German) in 1940, in Bahia, Brazil, she was raised in Rio de Janeiro and emigrated to the States with her musician-husband in the early ‘60s. In 1964, with a voice now recognized around the globe, Astrud recorded a solo album and began to tour with Getz, with whom she would have a relationship after divorcing João Gilberto a few years later.
Although she has since written a number of her own compositions and has recorded songs in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Japanese, Astrud Gilberto remains best known to most for her renditions of bossa nova and jazz standards, including today’s selection.
Featured in the movie, State Fair (the only Rodgers and Hammerstein musical written directly for film) It Might As Well Be Spring won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1945.
It Might As Well Be Spring
I’m as restless as a willow in a windstorm
I’m as jumpy as puppet on a string
I’d say that I had spring fever, but I know it isn’t spring
I am starry eyed and vaguely discontented
Like a nightingale without a song to sing
O why should I have spring fever, when it isn’t even spring
I keep wishing I were someone else
Walking down a strange new street
And hearing words that I’ve never heard from a girl I’ve yet to meet
I’m as busy as a spider spinning daydreams
I’m as giddy as a baby on a swing
I haven’t seen a crocus or a rosebud, or a robin on the wing
But I feel so gay in a melancholy way
That it might as well be spring
It might as well be spring