Me, Simona, and her punk rock boyfriend in the Italian night.
Here's a post about a song I have neither written or performed, and high time it is. That's why this blog has variety in the title. So I can blog whatever I want.
When I lived in Italy in the late 80s I went nuts over Italian rock and roll from the sixties because it was like a whole new world of nostalgia was opened up to me. My friend Richard Wachter had once described me as being nostalgic for a past I never knew, which is pretty insightful. Two of the artists particularly appealed to me, Adriano Celentano and Mina. Both of them hugely popular, incredibly talented, and with the charisma of true stars in their own culture. One unforgettable afternoon I chanced on their movie "Blue Jeans" on RAI, the Italian national TV network, and it made a huge impression on me - a group of kids rise up against the Mayor of Rome when he bans Blue Jeans in the city. Corny but cool.
One of the Celentano songs that came to haunt me - one of many - was Il Problema Piu' Importante, which I didn't know in it's original version. The amazing vocal arrangement blew my mind. Take a listen:
Il problema piu' importante per noi
(The most important problem we face)
e di avere una ragazza di sera
(is who will be our girl tonight)
se restiamo da soli, soli tutto male
(if we find ourselves alone, alone in misery)
non si puo neanche cantar
(we can't even sing)
Forse non ci crederete ma e vero
(perhaps you won't believe it but it's true)
la malinconia ci prende di sera
(depression hits us at night)
con la barba gia fatta
(with our faces freshly shaved)
soli, senza nessuno,
(alone, with nobody)
ce ne andiam per la citta
(we go out into the city)
Gira e rigira, fra le balere
(going round and round, among the balere)
ci sara pure un anima buona
(there might be some good soul)
che si accompagna con noi
(that will accompany us)
non la troviamo mai, MAI!
(we never find her, never!)
One fine day I came to hear a version of this song by Bobbie Gentry, from the same album that brought us the song "Fancy", a typical 1960s song about a young poor girl being turned out to a life of prostitution by her own mother. Further investigation revealed that this song had been a minor hit called "If You Got To Make A Fool Of Somebody". So I had to dig up the original James Ray version:
I mean no disrespect to Rudy Clark, who wrote this fine song, (in addition to "Good Lovin'" and "Everybody Plays The Fool") but I have to give the edge to the Italian lyrics, since the theme of going out looking for girls in the soft Italian night speaks more to me than being made a fool of for no reason by someone. But you can see that this song is just one delirious arrangement, complex and mysterious, in any language. Check out the unprecedented combination of tuba, banjo and harmonica. Where did they come up with that?
Download If You Got To Make A Fool Of Somebody
Download "Il problema piu importante per noi"