Monday Notes

Carlos Lyra, Lobo Bobo. The house of bossa nova

Italian flag
Leggi in Italiano

[Monday Notes no. 120] The flat of lawyer Jairo Leao was to bossa nova what Minton’s was to jazz: a place for gatherings, experimentations, creations. His 15-year-old daughter Nara Leao had a group of musician friends, including Carlos Lyra, her guitar teacher and author of the music for Lobo Bobo, one of the first bossanova pieces. We listen to Joao Gilberto’s performance.

Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal, in their early twenties, had improvised a guitar school in the hope of paying for some entertainment. Their ‘guitar academy’ was a huge and unexpected success, with up to two hundred students. This did not prevent them from spending whole nights in the hospitable house of Nara Leao, where many musicians used to come and go as they pleased.

Nara Leao
La giovane Nara Leao

The girl’s father was not even annoyed when another friend of his daughter, Ronaldo Boscoli, borrowed a few items of underwear from his drawers. This man’s liberality is a sign of the optimism and hopefulness that prevailed in Brazil in the late 1950s.

Among the musicians who frequented the house was Joao Gilberto, who was introduced by Roberto Menescal. The guitarist and singer was immediately recognised as an authentic master, the greatest interpreter of that modernity that everyone aspired to.

For the opening of Lobo Bobo, Roberto Menescal borrowed the tune used as a soundtrack for the adventures of two comedians very popular in those years, Laurel and Hardy. The lyrics of the song were instead composed by Ronaldo Boscoli.

La prima frase di Lobo Bobo riprende il tema di "Stanlio ed Ollio"
Lobo Bobo’s first line borrows the motif of Laurel and Hardy

The song is very humorous and is about a hungry wolf who wants to eat someone for dinner but ends up defeated, led on a leash by a ‘little hood in a swimming suit’. The author himself said that he was referring to the young Nara Leao, of whom Ronaldo Boscoli had fallen in love.

Lobo Bobo can also bring us a little of the magical atmosphere of that flat where some guys, without knowing it, were contributing to a revolution in Brazilian popular music: the birth of bossanova.

Until next Monday!

Joao Gilberto album cover

Do you want to receive my free lessons?

Sheet music, harmony lessons, music theory and musical analysis.