Certain songs are forever associated with a certain time and a place, certain memories.
For me, “Girl from Ipanema” will always always be associated with — me when I was seventeen in my boarding house room in Porter Square in Cambridge facing a kitchen window of the house next door where it was always full of yellow lights and laughter and fun people in the dining room in the evening and me lying on my stomach reading my old copy of This Side of Paradise that I had picked up from a bookstore in Harvard Square a couple days ago. It just was so perfect because I was reading Scott Fitzgerald and was in Boston in Harvard Square next to college kids and listening to bossa nova and there was this content lazy pleasure and blaséness and a vague discontent and an escapist fantasy-like thing about the whole thing. It was hot but it was evening and I didn’t have the air conditioning on. I so had a crush on the guy who lived next door who once stepped out of the shower in a towel and totally eyelocked with me and was embarrassed and slammed his bedroom door shut and that was very, very embarrassing for me. Don’t ask me why neither one of us had the goddamn blinds down. I enjoyed peeking in… mainly because I was so alone and isolated. I didn’t know anyone in Boston at the time. Who knew I would come back and spend so many years there so soon…
Bossa nova always makes you feel better. Try it!
“Girl from Ipanema” accompanies many of my college memories as well — first day in the dorms, dancing with Colleen across the hallway; my favourite memory with my best friend Caroline from one pink, blue, and purple, rainy autumn afternoon, watching her sleep on my chair to the gentle caresses of the song after hours of listening to me sing and memorize a motet for my 16th century counterpoint class; one evening, talking on the phone in bed to a boyfriend who sang half a verse of the song to me while I was playing it on my stereo. And many others. But just like a first love, memories of my seventeen-year-old summer will forever be the first to enter my mind when I hear the soft hums of João Gilberto.