....e io contavo i denti ai francobolli
dicevo "grazie a Dio" "buon Natale"
mi sentivo normale
eppure i miei trent'anni
erano pochi più dei loro
ma non importa adesso torno al lavoro.
Cantavano il disordine dei sogni
gli ingrati del benessere francese
e non davan l'idea
di denunciare uomini al balcone
di un solo maggio, di un unico paese,
e io ho la faccia usata dal buonsenso
ripeto "Non vogliamoci del male"
e non mi sento normale
e mi sorprendo ancora
a misurarmi su di loro
e adesso è tardi, adesso torno al lavoro.
Rischiavano la strada e per un uomo
ci vuole pure un senso a sopportare
di poter sanguinare
e il senso non dev'essere rischiare
ma forse non voler più sopportare.
Chissà cosa si prova a liberare
la fiducia nelle proprie tentazioni,
allontanare gli intrusi
dalle nostre emozioni,
allontanarli in tempo
e prima di trovarti solo
con la paura di non tornare al lavoro.
Rischiare libertà strada per strada,
scordarsi le rotaie verso casa,
io ne valgo la pena,
per arrivare ad incontrar la gente
senza dovermi fingere innocente.
Mi sforzo di ripetermi con loro
e più l'idea va di là del vetro
più mi lasciano indietro,
per il coraggio insieme
non so le regole del gioco
senza la mia paura mi fido poco.
Ormai sono in ritardo per gli amici
per l'odio potrei farcela da solo
illuminando al tritolo
chi ha la faccia e mostra solo il viso
sempre gradevole, sempre più impreciso.
E l'esplosivo spacca, taglia, fruga
tra gli ospiti di un ballo mascherato,
io mi sono invitato
a rilevar l'impronta
dietro ogni maschera che salta
e a non aver pietà per la mia prima volta.
La bomba in testa © 1973 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/Nicola Piovani
According to the liner notes, after having listened to "Canzone del Maggio" with new ears, the worker compares his life of good sense, individualism and fears with the lives of the students who had the courage to rebel against the system that oppressed them. His doubts increase and he feels like the students were right. But he realizes he can't really unite with them given his conditioning and situation. He decides to act independently and alone, to throw a bomb into a masked ball where the myths and cultural values of the bourgeois powers are on display, and he imagines the results (hence, "the bomb in the head").
. . . and I was counting the teeth on the postage stamps,
I was saying, “Thanks be to God,” “Merry Christmas,”
I was feeling normal.
And yet my thirty years
were few more than theirs.
But it doesn’t matter, now I return to work.
They were singing the messiness of their dreams,
the ingrates of French affluence,
and they weren’t giving me the idea
of denouncing men at the balcony
of one single May, of one single country.
And I have a face worn by good sense,
I repeat “Let’s not have ill feelings for each other,”
and I don’t feel normal.
And I surprise myself still
to measure myself against them,
and now it’s late, and now I return to work.
They risked it on the streets, and for a man
it just takes one sense to endure,
to be able to bleed.
And the sense doesn’t have to be risking,
but maybe no longer wanting to endure.
Who knows what one tries to liberate?
The confidence in one’s own attempts,
pushing away the intruders
from our emotions,
warding them off in time
and before you find yourself alone
with the fear of not returning to work.
Risking liberty street by street,
forgetting the tracks back to home,
I’m worth it,
to arrive to encounter people
without having to pretend I’m innocent.
I force myself to repeat myself with them,
and the more the idea goes over there through the glass,
the more they leave me behind
for their courage together.
I don’t know the rules of the game,
without my fear I trust myself little.
Now I'm late for my friends.
For the hatred I could give it a try on my own,
illuminating with TNT
anyone who has the look and shows only his face,
always agreeable, always more vague.
And the explosion splits, cuts, ransacks
among the guests of a masked ball.
I invited myself
to note the imprint
behind every mask that jumps,
and to have no mercy for my first time.
English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser
Storia di un impiegato, released in 1973, tells the story of a worker who, inspired by a song about the French student riots of May/June 1968, decides to become a revolutionary. De André hoped to make a poetic interpretation of the events of 1968, but wanted to burn the album upon its release because he felt it ended up as a political album, with him telling people how to act. The lyrics were co-written with Giuseppe Bentivoglio, and the resultant anarchist/Marxist texts are sometimes confusing and obscure. The music was co-written with Nicola Piovani, who also co-wrote Non al denaro non all'amore né al cielo.