The Girl from Ipanema and Her Ukulele

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Apologies up front to those of you with sluggish internet connections.

Something went funny in my head this morning. Tiny screws and little springs were falling out of my ears. It was very disconcerting, but not out of the ordinary. It wouldn’t bother me, except that I can’t escape the notion that there is a limited supply of hardware in my cranium.

And then, just as things stopped rattling around up there, I saw a little piece on BoingBoing that shocked me to the very core of my being. I saw a young woman playing a ukulele. That, in itself, is not so odd. What blew my mind was that it actually sounded nice.  She was playing some jazz number which left me cold, but her style was amazing. I decided to see if she had anything else that I would like better.

Sure enough, she has a YouTube clip of The Girl from Ipanema.  Here it is for your amazement:

As you can imagine, that stirred me up. Bossa Nova was my favourite genre in the old days, back when cave men roamed the village lanes. I can remember my bleeding fingers as I practised Antonio Carlos Jobim songs until Eunie would come screaming out of the kitchen with the handle of an eight pound cast iron skillet in her dainty hand.

But, a UKULELE? Come on, this is joke music* – except in Hawaii. How many other people have attempted this nearly impossible feat and succeeded without being laughed off the planet?

According to a YouTube search for “girl from ipanema” and ukulele, there are quite a few. Here is a very sophisticated rendition:

How about some lessons to get you up to speed:

Here’s one in which the playing is not so bad, but it sounds like it has been about ten years since the fellow actually heard the song. There is a spot where he consistently gets it wrong:

Nice try, but don’t give up your day job, man:

A very earnest and literal interpretation. Sounds like Jobim. Give this guy a couple of more months to practice and he’ll have it down:

Think you’ve heard it all? Hah! Hah, I say! How about a DUET of ukuleles doing THGFI in Portuguese, no less:

Okaaaay, I can see that I’ve not tortured you sufficiently. Here’s Howlin’ Hobbit with his rendition direct from his caravan down by the river:

I sincerely hope that my brain will reset itself by morning.

*I have been to Hawaii many times. I mean no disrespect. However, it is not my fault that the local genre sounds like a morose imitation of Dixieland Jazz, which I also hate. Excuse me for having an opinion.

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6 Responses to “The Girl from Ipanema and Her Ukulele”

  1. Howlin' Hobbit Says:

    Hey! Thanks for the mention!

    Good thing you separated me far away from Ms Rubio. She’s a bit of awesome. Have you checked her out on her main instrument, cello?

  2. MadDog Says:

    Howlin’, yer da cool dude o’ da month!


  3. John Belton Says:

    Hi there – great to read your blogs again – I am a bit of a muso myself and love my ukulele – if you have never seen it, try this youtube URL – you’ll never think of a Uke the same way
    Enjoy and keep blogging
    John Belton

  4. MadDog Says:

    Well, John, you are absolutely right. That one blew me away!

  5. kylee Says:

    Have you seen this little Japanese kid playing the ukulele? He’s pretty awesome (and cute for a 5 year old!)

  6. MadDog Says:

    As cute as they come, Kylee. Thanks for sending that.