ALL HANDS / News & reflections: Jobim’s Waters

And the winner is . . .

NOVEMBER 4, 2020. A nation’s future hangs in the balance. A pandemic stalks the earth. Plus you’ve got your own stuff to deal with. But I’m going to ask you to put those worries aside for a few minutes and weigh in on a matter of utmost importance: Which of these four renditions of “The Waters of March” (“Águas de Março”) is the best?

Jobim in 1965

The great Brazilian songwriter and performer Antônio Carlos Jobim penned the music and lyrics (in Portuguese and in earthy, Anglo-Saxon English) in 1972. Since then, every musician with an ear for the bossa nova style has done something with “The Waters of March.” A few have refashioned the song in surprising ways. A tiny sampling of the latter is presented here, in videos with fan-made slide shows.

So I ask you, whose version do you prefer?

Is it Jobim’s original Portuguese version, in which the master (apparently in two different superimposed takes) delivers a punchy, unadorned reading above a lush, Nelson Riddle-style orchestral backdrop? (3:58)

Or is Art Garfunkel’s 1975 English version — with its utter lack of pretention and its focus on poetry over music — more your style? (3:37)

Does the jazz singer Susanna McCorkle’s personality-infused bilingual rendition from 1993 float your boat? (3:54)

Or might the lavishly produced song stylings of Poland’s Basia (aka Barbara Stanisława Trzetrzelewska), in this jaunty, up-tempo remake from 1998, turn the tide? (3:56)

You can leave your answer in the comment section below. Whichever version you choose, I guarantee the world will look a tiny bit friendlier for the rest of the day.


Taylor McNeil — writer, editor, and lover of Japanese woodblock prints — talks about his decades-long passion and shares elegant works from his collection. What began as an enthusiasm, he writes, later became “a way of surviving.” Look for his story soon, in The Necessary. (UPDATE: It’s here!)

— David Brittan, your curator and editor


  1. I like the Art Garfunkel version best. His uncomplicated interpretation, combined with the tone of his voice, lends the right feeling to the song. Or, perhaps it’s just that his voice is a voice from my youth that will always sound good to me….

  2. I vote for the Susannah McCorkle version! Beautiful lilting, clear voice, and the best images to describe the feeling! Oh for the days of maskless past. But I’m also partial to the Jane Monheit version.

  3. The Susan McCorkle version is pure. Faithful to Jobim’s original with some wonderful brief jazz improvisation.

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