Rio de Janeiro

Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars) by Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto

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I who was lost and lonely
Believing life was only
A bitter tragic joke I found with you
This popular song was written by a man who penned many songs, including the hugely popular "The Girl From Ipanema." Antonio Carlos Jobim, sometimes known as Tom Jobim, the songwriter was born in Rio de Janerio and is buried there. Not surprising that he would write songs about his home town. Ipanema is a beach resort in Rio and Corcovado a mountain close by. The international airport in Rio is named in honor of the songwriter.

"Cristo Redentor"<br>Photo: Ron Beam"Cristo Redentor"
Photo: Ron Beam
Jobim did much to make popular the Latin style of music known as bossa nova in Brazil in the 1950s. "Corcovado" is composed in that style. Both the samba and the bossa nova began in Brazil. Musically, there is an emphasis on the second beat of the bar, and in Brazil at least, bossa nova music features classical guitar using nylon strings played only with fingers sans plectrum. When the music moved to the USA and elsewhere, lush orchestrations were often a part of the recordings.

The appeal of the music was often to jazz performers and notably the saxophonist Stan Getz. Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock are two other jazz greats who are big fans of the Jobim collection of songs.

"Corcovado" has attracted a star-studded collection of artists who have created cover versions of the song. It's almost a list of Who's Who in the musical world. The song has been recorded by Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto, who gave the song its definitive sound, and other artists include Miles Davis, Charlie Byrd, Sergio Mendes, Oscar Peterson, Frank Sinatra, Engelbert Humperdinck, Cliff Richard, Ella Fitzgerald, and Art Garfunkel.

Rio de Janeiro hosts a national park, and within this park, close by the city itself, stands the impressive mountain, Corcovado. In Portuguese, the language of Brazil, the name means 'hunchback.' Originally dubbed The Pinnacle of Temptation (an allusion to the biblical mountain), Corcovado was re-named a century after its discovery. Because of its close proximity to the city, the mountain is an impressive landmark, made even more so by the massive statue of Jesus at its summit. It was in 1859 that Father Pedro Maria Boss, having just arrived in Rio, made the suggestion that a monument be constructed atop the mountain in honor of Princess Isabel. From there, it would be 72 years and a complete change in structure and design before the impressive statue of Christ the Redeemer was finished in 1931. Topping out at just over a whopping 38 meters, the statue can be seen from just about anywhere in Rio, welcoming the incoming masses with its generous wingspan, which measures almost 30 meters from fingertip to fingertip.

Botafogo district in RioBotafogo district in Rio
The journey to greet the statue in person is daunting, but also perhaps a major part of the attraction. You can take the narrow road or the small electric-powered railway. The trip on the two-car train takes only 20 minutes, but the wait for the conveyance can last for hours. Waiting in line is the order of the day.

And there's more. At the end of the railroad there are 223 steps to climb to reach the observation deck. There are escalators for the less hardy and the views are fantastic. You can see the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, lakes, mountains, and the city of Rio itself. It's just that the getting there is a serious journey for a mountain only some 700 meters high.

Rock climbers get to scale parts of Corcovado, although the popes who have visited, and the famous - such as Albert Einstein - understandably took the more conventional route. We suggest that, unless you have the funds to hire a private helicopter to lift you effortlessly to the summit, get a thorough physical check-up from your doctor before embarking up the majestic Corcovado under your own steam.

Cenarth Fox
May 2, 2013
Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars) Songfacts
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Comments: 1

  • John from So CalYou should use the original 4:16 cut off the Getz/Gilberto (1963) album.
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