“The Waters of March”

By virtue of Joni Mitchell’s presence, we’ve already established that the word “American” in the title of this blog is to be taken not narrowly but hemispherically. Today we’re going down south with the great Brazilian composer and guitarist Antonio Carlos Jobim. Rather than the slightly more well known (and equally deserving) “Girl from Ipanema,” I’m starting out with his 1972 song “Waters of March” (the title refers to Brazil’s rainiest month), a hypnotic tune with repeating melodic and lyrical structures that never become repetitive. In a poll of critics, it was named the best Brazilian song of all time. Jobim wrote both the Portuguese and English words, which kick off:

A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the road
It’s the rest of a stump, it’s a little alone
It’s a sliver of glass, it is life, it’s the sun
It is night, it is death, it’s a trap, it’s a gun

The song has been covered hundreds of time. Here’s the very tight version by New American Songbook favorite Susannah McCorkle, which features both the English and Portuguese lyrics:

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