The song ‘Água de Beber’ represents a treasure of Bossa Nova, a masterful creation by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, released in 1961. The English version of the lyrics was meticulously crafted by Norman Gimbel.

The story of the song ‘Água de Beber’

The story behind this song is simple yet striking. An engineer, Kléber Farias Pinto, involved in the construction of Brasília, shared a memory from 1959 during the construction of Brazil’s new capital. At that time, Juscelino Kubitschek, the country’s president, invited Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes for a stay at the Catetinho, a temporary wooden residence named in reference to the Catete Palace in Rio de Janeiro, the former capital of Brazil. Their mission was to compose a symphony for the inauguration ceremony of Brasília.


One night, Vinicius and Tom were walking near the Wooden Palace when they heard the murmuring of water around the Catetinho and asked the guard, “What is that sound of water here?” The guard promptly replied, “Don’t you know? Here is the water to drink, buddies.”

This discovery of the liquid source became the inspiration for creating the music. Farias Pinto was one of the first to hear the song sung by Tom and Vinicius at the city’s only hotel, hours after its composition. To corroborate the truth of this narrative, he still keeps a written statement by Tom Jobim himself.

The term “buddies” was common during the construction of Brasília, often used by workers when addressing engineers, artists, and President Juscelino Kubitschek himself.

Moreover, there is an account by João Bosco, who, in a conversation with Tom Jobim about his admiration for the music and the title phrase and its inspiration, heard from the musician: “Yes, but you have to be careful because it’s not about the water you drink. The water is the aquavit [or akvavit], a brandy from Denmark, Norway… made from potatoes and herbs, a specific drink,” elucidated the composer.



Reference: Correio Braziliense – ‘Vinicius de Moraes e Tom Jobim criaram juntos poema sinfônico sobre Brasília”. Brazil, January 01, 2013. Site: correiobraziliense.com.br. Available in: Vinicius de Moraes e Tom Jobim criaram juntos poema sinfônico sobre Brasília (correiobraziliense.com.br). Accessed on: December 16, 2023.

G1 – ‘’Água de beber’: filme em realidade virtual retrata composição de sucesso de Tom Jobim e Vinicius de Moraes, no Catetinho, em Brasília”. Brazil, November 09, 2022. Site: g1.globo.com. Available in: ‘Água de beber’: filme em realidade virtual retrata composição de sucesso de Tom Jobim e Vinicius de Moraes, no Catetinho, em Brasília | O que fazer no Distrito Federal | G1 (globo.com). Accessed on: December 16, 2023.

Matheus Araújo - Brazilian History
Matheus Araújo
Founder and Editor at Brazilian History | Website

Matheus is an entrepreneur at Araujo Media, where he serves as CEO and Creative Director. He shares analyses on his personal blog "matheusaraujo.me" and is currently pursuing a degree in Advertising and Propaganda. Moreover, he has a passion for history, particularly that of Brazil, which led him to become the founder and editor of the Brazilian History portal.