In un vortice di polvere
gli altri vedevan siccità,
a me ricordava la gonna di Jenny
in un ballo di tanti anni fa.
Sentivo la mia terra
vibrare di suoni, era il mio cuore
e allora perché coltivarla ancora,
come pensarla migliore.
Libertà l'ho vista dormire
nei campi coltivati
a cielo e denaro, a cielo ed amore,
protetta da un filo spinato.
Libertà l'ho vista svegliarsi
ogni volta che ho suonato
per un fruscio di ragazze a un ballo,
per un compagno ubriaco.
E poi se la gente sa,
e la gente lo sa che sai suonare,
suonare ti tocca per tutta la vita
e ti piace lasciarti ascoltare.
Finii con i campi alle ortiche
finii con un flauto spezzato
e un ridere rauco, ricordi tanti
e nemmeno un rimpianto.
Il suonatore Jones © 1971 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
"Il suonatore Jones" is based on "Fiddler Jones."
In a whirl of dust,
others would see drought.
It reminded me of Jenny’s skirt
in a dance so many years ago.
I felt my land
quivering with sounds - 'twas my heart -
and then why cultivate it still?
How to think it could be better?
I saw liberty sleeping
in crop fields
of heaven and money, of heaven and love,
protected by barbed wire.
I saw liberty wake up
every time I played
for a swoosh of girls at a dance,
for a drunk companion.
And then if people know,
and people do know that you know how to play,
you have to play for all your life,
and you like letting them listen to you.
I ended up with the fields gone to nettles,
I ended up with a broken flute
and a hoarse laugh, so many memories,
and not even one regret.
English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser
Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo, released in 1971, is a concept album inspired by poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915 and translated into Italian in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano. Each poem tells the story, as an epitaph, of one of the denizens of the fictional small town Spoon River. De André read and liked the book when he was 18, and when he re-read it years later was again struck by the relevance of the stories and the lives therein. He wanted to show, with the nine poems he chose, some aspects of life related to envy, love and the failure of science. The album was an immediate success upon its release.
The earth keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind's in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off to 'Toor-a-Loor.'
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill--only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle--
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.
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