Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Recitativo (due invocazioni e un atto d'accusa)/
        Corale (leggenda del re infelice) -
   Recitative (Two Invocations and an Indictment)/
        Chorale (Legend of the Unhappy King)

Uomini senza fallo,
semidei che vivete in castelli inargentati
che di gloria toccaste gli apogei
noi che invochiam pietà siamo i drogati.

Dell'inumano varcando il confine
conoscemmo anzitempo la carogna
che ad ogni ambito sogno mette fine:
che la pietà non vi sia di vergogna.

     C'era un re
     che aveva
     due castelli
     uno d'argento
     uno d'oro
     ma per lui
     non il cuore
     di un amico
     mai un amore
     né felicità.

Banchieri, pizzicagnoli, notai,
coi ventri obesi e le mani sudate
coi cuori a forma di salvadanai
noi che invochiam pietà fummo traviate.

Navigammo su fragili vascelli
per affrontar del mondo la burrasca
ed avevamo gli occhi troppo belli:
che la pietà non vi rimanga in tasca.

Giudici eletti, uomini di legge
noi che danziam nei vostri sogni ancora
siamo l'umano desolato gregge
di chi morì con il nodo alla gola.

Quanti innocenti all'orrenda agonia
votaste decidendone la sorte
e quanto giusta pensate che sia
una sentenza che decreta morte?

     Un castello
     lo donò
     e cento e cento
     amici trovò
     l'altro poi
     gli portò
     mille amori
     ma non trovo
     la felicità.

Uomini cui pietà non convien sempre
male accettando il destino comune,
andate, nelle sere di novembre,
a spiar delle stelle al fioco lume,
la morte e il vento, in mezzo ai camposanti,
muover le tombe e metterle vicine
come fossero tessere giganti
di un domino che non avrà mai fine.

Uomini, poiché all'ultimo minuto
non vi assalga il rimorso ormai tardivo
per non aver pietà giammai avuto
e non diventi rantolo il respiro:
sappiate che la morte vi sorveglia
gioir nei prati o fra i muri di calce,
come crescere il gran guarda il villano
finché non sia maturo per la falce.

     Non cercare la felicità
     in tutti quelli a cui tu
     hai donato
     per avere un compenso
     ma solo in te
     nel tuo cuore
     se tu avrai donato
     solo per pietà
     per pietà
     per pietà...


Recitativo and Corale © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

In "Recitativo" and "Corale" De André makes the case that a merciful outlook should underpin all human affairs, as death waits patiently for each of us regardless of station in life.


Gian Piero Reverberi and Fabrizio De André in the studio



You men with no failings,
half gods who live in silvered castles,
who touched the heights of glory,
we who invoke mercy are the addicts.

Of the inhuman border crossing
we will know prematurely its carcass
that puts an end to every ambitious dream:
may mercy not be shameful for you all.

     There was a king
     who had
     two castles,
     one of silver,
     one of gold;
     but for him
     not the heart
     of a friend,
     never a love
     nor happiness.

Bankers, deli owners, accountants
with obese bellies and sweaty hands,
with hearts shaped like piggy banks,
we who invoke mercy were led astray.

We sail on fragile ships
to face the storm of the world
and we have eyes too beautiful:
may mercy not remain in your pockets.

Elected judges, men of law,
we who still dance in your dreams,
we are the bleak human herd
of those who died with a knot at the throat.

How many innocents to a horrible agony
did you vote through, determining their destiny?
And how right do you think it is that it’s
a sentence that decrees death?

     One castle
     he gave away
     and hundreds and hundreds
     of friends he found.
     The other then
     brought him
     a thousand lovers,
     but he didn't find
     happiness.

Men for whom mercy is not always suitable,
ill accepting the common destiny,
you go, in the evenings of November
in the dim light of the stars, to spy on
death and the wind, amidst the graveyards,
moving tombstones and placing them nearby
as if they were giant pieces
of a domino game that will never have an end.

You men, since at the last minute
remorse, by then belated, doesn’t assault you
for never having had mercy,
and the breath doesn’t become a death rattle:
know that death keeps a close eye on you,
rejoicing in the meadows or in between the lime walls
like a boorish peasant looks after the growing grain
while it’s not yet ripe for the scythe.

     Don’t search for happiness
     in all those to whom you
     have gifted
     in order to have a reward,
     but only in you,
     in your heart,
     if you might have given
     purely out of mercy,
     out of mercy,
     out of mercy . . .


English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy. 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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