Though Chega de Saudade is widely considered the first recorded bossa nova song it is in fact, “Bim Bom” that was the first bossa nova song to be composed. Depite being written in 1956 it was not actually recoded until July 1958. This was the first classic from the brilliant mind of Joao Gilberto and, not for the last time, was inspired from something that he keenly observed one day.
Near the San Fransisco River Gilberto watched laundresses walk up and down the banks of the river collecting water and balancing the load on top of their head. The side to side movement of their hips with each step inspired him to compose a rhythm in sync with what he saw. As the women made no sound when they swayed gently from side to side Gilberto inserted “Bim Bom” to act as an audible representation for what he was seeing. “Bim” is always followed by the “bom” and this pattern is continuous. Therefore, if Bim were to represent a movement to the right, Bom is the immediate movement to the left that would follow.
The lyrics of the song do not feature much else besides “Bim Bom” and characterises the easy and simple style that is so closely associated with bossa nova.