The Songs of Summer #13: ‘Summer Samba’ by Walter Wanderley
First, a clarification. The songs on this list, my Songs of Summer, are being listed in no particular order. One song is not necessarily better or worse than another. I’m listing them pretty much randomly; the only determining factor for which song I list on a particular day would be the mood that I’m in. Or maybe the weather…or the day of the week…
That said, it’s Monday. I have to ease myself into the week; I think most people do after a long, fun-filled weekend. I really don’t get settled in until about Thursday afternoon, and by then it’s basically the weekend.
So today’s Summer Song is going to be Easy Listening if that’s OK with you. Let’s ease our way into the workweek, shall we?
‘Summer Samba’ is a song written in 1964 by Marcos Valle, a famous Brazilian songwriter. But it’s the version I’m featuring here that made the song famous. Recorded in 1966 by Walter Wanderley and his Trio, ‘Summer Samba’ was the most famous example of the Bossa Nova craze that was sweeping the world in the 60’s. It’s from his album ‘Rain Forest‘ which in its entirety is really really nice. Starting with ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ by Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto in 1964, Bossa nova (‘new trend’ in Portuguese FYI), with its breezy rhythms, conjured images of tropical Brazil and the golden beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Bossa nova is based largely on the samba, a popular dance style in Brazil. (It’s all about Brazil, baby.)
There are lots of versions of this very popular song, almost all of them falling into the ‘easy listening’ or ‘adult standards’ genres, from Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams to Vicki Carr and Connie Francis. This instrumental version, the first popular version, is my favorite. There’s just something about that cheesy sounding organ. Walter Wanderley also released another version of the song with singer Astrud Gilberto, which is almost as good. You know what? That second version is so good I’ll put it up here along with the instrumental version. How’s that sound? That way you can pick your own favorite.
Speaking of ‘easy listening,’ please don’t ever refer to this style of music as ‘elevator music’ unless you’re actually hearing it on an elevator. Popular instrumental music, especially of the 1960’s, gets pegged as square or boring, and a lot of it is. But this bossa nova? It’s anything but. Sure, it may sound a bit dated, but I like that dated sound. It captures a period in time, just like popular songs today will capture 2015 for future generations. Popular music in the 1960’s captured a much wider variety of sound than today. Could you imagine hearing this on the radio, alongside The Beatles, Dean Martin, and The Rolling Stones?
This is one of the finer descriptions I’ve ever seen of Walter Wanderley’s music:
“Walter Wanderley’s fiendishly bouncy Jetsons space-party sound brings to mind visions of poolside conspiratorial conferences of Swiss bankers in girlwatcher shades and émigré Nazis clutching piña coladas while disposing of ill-gotten gold bullion amidst tanga-clad chocolate babes.”
–Stewart Swezey, Exotica: Ports of Pleasure and Dancing in the Isles
I’m now officially rambling, so I’ll cut this off right here. From 1966, the smooth samba sounds of Walter Wanderley, “Brazil’s No. 1 Organist”, and ‘Summer Samba.’ Happy Monday.