Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Cantico dei drogati - Canticle of the Junkies

Ho licenziato Dio gettato via un amore
per costruirmi il vuoto nell'anima e nel cuore
Le parole che dico non han più forma nè accento
si trasformano i suoni in un sordo lamento
Mentre fra gli altri nudi io striscio verso un fuoco
che illumina i fantasmi di questo osceno giuoco.
Come potrò dire a mia madre
che ho paura ?

Chi mi riparlerà di domani luminosi
dove i muti canteranno e taceranno i noiosi
Quando riascolterò il vento tra le foglie
sussurrare i silenzi che la sera raccoglie
Io che non vedo più che folletti di vetro
che mi spiano davanti che mi ridono dietro
Come potrò dire a mia madre
che ho paura ?

Perchè non hanno fatto delle grandi pattumiere
per i giorni già usati per queste ed altre sere?
E chi, chi sarà mai il buttafuori del sole
chi lo spinge ogni giorno sulla scena alle prime ore?
E soprattutto chi e perchè mi ha messo al mondo
dove vivo la mia morte con un anticipo tremendo?
Come potrò dire a mia madre
che ho paura ?

Quando scadrà l'affitto di questo corpo idiota
allora avrò il mio premio come una buona nota
Mi citeran di monito a chi crede sia bello
giocherellare a palla con il proprio cervello
Cercando di lanciarlo oltre il confine stabilito
che qualcuno ha tracciato ai bordi dell'infinito
Come potrò dire a mia madre
che ho paura ?

Tu che mi ascolti insegnami un alfabeto che sia
differente da quello della mia vigliaccheria

Cantico dei drogati © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Riccardo Mannerini/
Gian Piero Reverberi


The lyrics of "Cantico dei drogati" were derived from Riccardo Mannerini's poem "Eroina," then amplified into some of the most intense lyrics to be found in De André's work. De André described Mannerini as one of the most important figures in his life, with whom he had a deep connection. They shared an anarchist political philosophy, a free-spirited approach to life, an addiction to alcohol, and even a small apartment in Sant'Agostino. De André stated that he himself drank two bottles of whiskey a day from when he was 18 until the age of 45 when he promised his father, who was on his deathbed, that he would stop. He described the writing of "Cantico" as cathartic. A canticle is a song of praise taken from a Biblical text other than the Psalms, and would be familiar to Italians as part of the Roman Catholic liturgy. With God fired in the first line of the song, praise is replaced with a desperate call for help. Other musical collaborations with Mannerini can be heard on Senza orario, senza bandiera, the first album of the New Trolls.



Riccardo Mannerini and Fabrizio De André

I fired God and threw away a lover
to create the emptiness in my soul and in my heart.
The words I speak no longer have form nor accent,
the sounds turn into a muffled lament
while, among other naked ones, I crawl towards a fire
that illuminates the ghosts of this obscene game.
How will I tell my mother
that I’m afraid ?

Who will talk with me again about bright tomorrows
where the mute will sing and silence the dolts?
When will I listen again to the wind in the leaves,
whispering the silences the night collects?
I who no longer see that glass goblins
who spy on me beforehand, who laugh at me afterwards . . .
How can I tell my mother
that I’m afraid ?

How come they didn’t make some huge trashcans
for days already spent, for these and other nights?
And who, who will ever be the bouncer for the sun?
Who pushes it every day onto the stage in the early hours?
And above all, by whom and why was I put into the world
where I live out my death in a terrible advance?
How will I tell my mother
that I’m afraid ?

When the lease is up on this idiotic body,
then I’ll have my prize, like a good note.
They’ll cite me as a warning to whoever believes it’s great
to fiddle with one’s brain like a ball,
trying to launch it beyond the established boundary
that someone traced at the edges of infinity.
How can I tell my mother
that I’m afraid ?

You who hear me, teach me an alphabet that might be
different from that of my cowardice.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy, its unified scope inspired by the Moody Blues album The Days of Future Passed. In De André's own words, the album "speaks of death, not of bubble gum death with little bones, but of psychological death, moral death, mental death, that a normal person can encounter during his lifetime." After the success of Volume I, De André was provided for this next album a cutting edge recording studio complete with an 80-member orchestra, directed by Gian Piero Reverberi, and a children's chorus. The whole project was under the direction of Gian Piero's brother Gian Franco Reverberi. This album also met with commercial success, becoming the highest selling album in Italy in 1968. In 1969 a version of the album was made with De André re-recording the vocals in English. The album was not officially released.
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