Song No. 119 — Hô-bá-lá-lá | João Gilberto (1958)

Hô-bá-lá-lá was introduced in 1958 by Bené Nunes as the opening track on his album Bené Nunes e Seu Piano, featuring arrangements by Radamés Gnattali, Antônio Carlos Jobim and Severino Filho. Also in 1958, Waldir Calmon was the first to pick up the song on his album Para Ouvir Amando No. 2, also issuing Hô-bá-lá-lá the following year as B-side to Mercado Persa (In a Persian Market).

Composed in 1957 when he had no recording contract, Gilberto recorded Hô-bá-lá-lá in February 1959 along with Desafinado. Both songs were arranged and conducted by Antônio Carlos Jobim and released the same month as his follow-up single to Chega de Saudade b/w Bim Bom, recorded in July and released in August 1958. Later in 1959, all four recordings were included on Gilberto’s debut album Chega de Saudade. Interestingly and unlike other of his compositions, Gilberto apparently never re-recorded Hô-bá-lá-lá.

The first English lyrics were written by Aloysio de Oliveira for Sylvia Telles in 1960. Five years later, Norman Gimbel wrote his lyrics that were first recorded by Wanda de Sah.

Originally a beguine, later mostly performed as a bolero and sometimes spelt Obá-lá-lá or in English Ho-Ba-La-La, the dreamy song became an instant favourite among musicians with about 50 recordings to date.

Selected recordings of Hô-bá-lá-lá:

1. Bené Nunes from the album Bené Nunes e Seu Piano (1958, Continental LPP 3042)

2. João Gilberto from the single Desafinado b/w Hô-bá-lá-lá (1959, Odeon 14.426) and the album Chega de Saudade (1959, Odeon MOFB 3073)

   
Artwork for Chega de Saudade by César G Villela with photographs by Francisco Pereira

3. Norma Benguell from the album Ooooooh! Norma (1959, MOFB 3112)

   
Artwork for Ooooooh! Norma by César G Villela with photographs by Francisco Pereira

4. Zé Maria from the album Presente Musical (1959, Internacional CID 27017)

   

5. Walter Wanderley from the album Feito Sob Medida (1959, Odeon MOFB 3109)

   
Artwork for Feito Sob Medida by César G Villela with photographs by Francisco Pereira

6. Edú da Gaita from the album Uma Gaita Para Milhões (1959, Copacabana CLP 11114)

   

7. Luis Arruda Paes from the album Brasil em Tempo de Samba (1959, Odeon MOFB 3121)

   

8. Sylvia Telles from the album Amor em Hi-Fi (1960, Philips P 630.419 L)

  

9. Biriba Boys from the album Biriba Alegra a Brasil (1960, Chantecler CMG 2072)

   

10. Fafá Lemos from the album Dó-Ré-Mi Fafá Lemos (1960, RCA Victor BBL 1145)

11. Sérgio Mendes from the album Dance Moderno (1961, Philips P 630.491 L)

   

12. Os Saxsambistas Brasileiros from the album Bossa Nova Espetacular (1962, Plaza PZ 7013)

  

13. Conjunto Sambossa from the album Isto é Bossa Nova Mesmo (1963, Pawal P-20.026)

   

14. Jorge Ben from the album Ben é Samba Bom (1964, Philips P 632.727 L)

   
Artwork for Ben é Samba Bom by Paulo Brèves with photograph by Mafra

15. Sivuca from the album Rendez-vous a Rio (1965, EBRAU EBLP 920105)

16. O Quarteto from the album Antologia da Bossa Nova 20 Anos Depois (1977, Philips 6349 301)

  
Artwork for Antologia da Bossa Nova 20 Anos Depois by Aldo Luiz with photographs by Penna Prearo

Selected medleys including Hô-bá-lá-lá:

1. Zito Righi aka Bob Fleming from the album Bob Fleming (1961, Musidisc XPL-6)

   

2. Orquestra Los Danseros from the album Los Danseros en Bolero (1962, Equipe EQ 801)

   
Artwork for Los Danseros en Bolero by Maurício

3. Orquestra Românticos de Cuba from the album Recuerdos (1969, Musidisc 777.7013)

   

Selected recordings of Hô-bá-lá-lá originally not issued in Brazil:

1. René Touzet from the album Bossa Nova – Brazil to Hollywood (1963, GNP [USA] Crescendo ‎– GNP 87)

   

2. Charlie Byrd from the album Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros (1963, Riverside Records ‎[USA] RM 436)

   

3. Martin Denny from the album Latin Village (1964, Liberty [USA] LST-7378)

   

4. Mel Tormé from the album A Lush, Romantic Album, That’s All (1965, Columbia [USA] CL2318)

   

5. Wanda de Sah from the album Softly (1965, Capitol [USA] T 2325)

HÔ-BÁ-LÁ-LÁ

É amor • O hô-bá-lá-lá, hô-bá-lá-lá • Uma canção

Quem ouvir o hô-bá-lá-lá • Terá feliz o coração • O amor encontrará ouvindo esta canção • Alguém compreenderá seu coração

Vem ouvir • O hô-bá-lá-lá, hô-bá-lá-lá • Uma canção

É amor • O hô-bá-lá-lá, hô-bá-lá-lá • Uma canção

Quem ouvir o hô-bá-lá-lá • Terá feliz o coração • O amor encontrará ouvindo esta canção • Alguém compreenderá seu coração

Vem ouvir • O hô-bá-lá-lá, hô-bá-lá-lá • Esta canção bá-lá-lá, hô-bá-lá-lá

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