Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Canzoni:
   Via della Povertà - Desolation Row (Bob Dylan)

Il Salone di bellezza in fondo al vicolo
è affollatissimo di marinai
prova a chiedere a uno che ore sono
e ti risponderà "non l'ho saputo mai".
Le cartoline dell'impiccagione
sono in vendita a cento lire l'una
il commissario cieco dietro la stazione
per un indizio ti legge la sfortuna
e le forze dell'ordine irrequiete
cercano qualcosa che non va
mentre io e la mia signora ci affacciamo stasera
su Via della povertà.

Cenerentola sembra così facile
ogni volta che sorride ti cattura
ricorda proprio Bette Davis
con le mani appoggiate alla cintura.
Arriva Romeo trafelato
e le grida "il mio amore sei tu"
ma qualcuno gli dice di andar via
e di non riprovarci più
e l'unico suono che rimane
quando l'ambulanza se ne va
è Cenerentola che spazza la strada
in via della Povertà.

Mentre l'alba sta uccidendo la luna
e le stelle si son quasi nascoste
la signora che legge la fortuna
se n'è andata in compagnia dell'oste.
Ad eccezione di Abele e di Caino
tutti quanti sono andati a far l'amore
aspettando che venga la pioggia
ad annacquare la gioia ed il dolore
e il Buon Samaritano
sta affilando la sua pietà
se ne andrà al Carnevale stasera
in via della Povertà.

I tre Re Magi sono disperati
Gesù Bambino è diventato vecchio
e Mister Hyde piange sconcertato
vedendo Jeckyll che ride nello specchio.
Ofelia è dietro la finestra
mai nessuno le ha detto che è bella
a soli ventidue anni
è già una vecchia zitella
la sua morte sarà molto romantica
trasformandosi in oro se ne andrà
per adesso cammina avanti e indietro
in via della Povertà.

Einstein travestito da ubriacone
ha nascosto i suoi appunti in un baule
è passato di qui un'ora fa
diretto verso l'ultima Thule,
sembrava così timido e impaurito
quando ha chiesto di fermarsi un po' qui
ma poi ha cominciato a fumare
e a recitare l'A B C
ed a vederlo tu non lo diresti mai
ma era famoso qualche tempo fa
per suonare il violino elettrico
in via della Povertà.

Ci si prepara per la grande festa
c'è qualcuno che comincia ad aver sete
il fantasma dell'opera
si è vestito in abiti da prete
sta ingozzando a viva forza Casanova
per punirlo della sua sensualità
lo ucciderà parlandogli d'amore
dopo averlo avvelenato di pietà
e mentre il fantasma grida
tre ragazze si son spogliate già
Casanova sta per essere violentato
in via della Povertà.

E bravo Nettuno mattacchione
il Titanic sta affondando nell'aurora
nelle scialuppe i posti letto sono tutti occupati
e il capitano grida "ce ne stanno ancora",
e Ezra Pound e Thomas Eliot
fanno a pugni nella torre di comando
i suonatori di calipso ridono di loro
mentre il cielo si sta allontanando
e affacciati alle loro finestre nel mare
tutti pescano mimose e lillà
e nessuno deve più preoccuparsi
di via della Povertà.

A mezzanotte in punto i poliziotti
fanno il loro solito lavoro
metton le manette intorno ai polsi
a quelli che ne sanno più di loro,
i prigionieri vengon trascinati
su un calvario improvvisato lì vicino
e il caporale Adolfo li ha avvisati
che passeranno tutti dal camino
e il vento ride forte
e nessuno riuscirà a ingannare il suo destino
in via della Povertà.

La tua lettera l'ho avuta proprio ieri
mi racconti tutto quel che fai
ma non essere ridicola
non chiedermi "come stai",
questa gente di cui mi vai parlando
è gente come tutti noi
non mi sembra che siano mostri
non mi sembra che siano eroi
e non mandarmi ancora tue notizie
nessuno ti risponderà
se insisti a spedirmi le tue lettere
da via della Povertà.

Via della Povertà text © 1974 Fabrizio De André-Francesco De Gregori based on
Desolation Row © 1965 Warner Bros Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music


De André regarded highly the work of Bob Dylan, both for its literary quality and for the many Biblical references found therein. De André considered Dylan part poet and part prophet. This translation was one of the first collaborations between De André and Francesco De Gregori, and it led to the creation of the subsequent album Volume 8.









Bob Dylan text for Desolation Row:

They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing
He’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she’s ’neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
“Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on pennywhistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains
They’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls
“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row”

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row
The beauty parlor at the back of the alley
is packed with sailors.
Try to ask one what time it is
and he’ll tell you “I never knew it.”
The postcards of the hanging
are for sale, a hundred lira apiece.
The blind commissioner behind the station
reads your misfortune for a clue
and the restless forces of order
search for something that doesn’t work
while my lady and I look out the window tonight
onto Poverty Way.

Cinderella seems so easy,
every time she smiles she catches you,
reminiscent of Bette Davis
with her hands resting against her belt.
Romeo arrives panting
and shouts to her “My love, it’s you.”
But someone tells him to go away
and not to try it again,
and the only sound that remains
when the ambulance goes
is Cinderella sweeping the street
on Poverty Way.

While the dawn is killing the moon
and the stars are almost hidden,
the fortune telling lady
went away in the company of the innkeeper.
Except for Cain and Abel
everyone went to make love,
expecting that the rain might come
to water down the joy and the sorrow.
And the Good Samaritan
is honing his mercy,
he’ll go to the Carnival tonight
on Poverty Way.

The three Wise Men are desperate,
Baby Jesus became old
and Mister Hyde is crying disconcerted
watching Jeckyll who is laughing in the mirror.
Ofelia is behind the window,
no one ever told her that she’s beautiful.
At only twenty two years of age
she’s already an old maid.
Her death will be very romantic,
transforming herself into gold she’ll go away.
For now she walks back and forth
on Poverty Way.

Einstein, dressed as a drunkard,
hid his notes in a trunk.
He passed this way an hour ago
straight towards the final Thule.
He seemed so shy and scared
when he asked to stop a bit here,
but then he started to smoke
and to recite the A B C's,
and to see him you would never say it,
but he was famous some time ago
for playing the electric violin
on Poverty Way.

In preparing for the big party
there’s someone who’s starting to be thirsty
The phantom of the opera
is dressed in the clothes of a priest,
he is force feeding Casanova
to punish him for his sensuality.
He'll kill him, speaking to him of love
after having poisoned him with pity,
and while the phantom shouts
three girls are already stripped naked -
Casanova is about to be raped
on Poverty Way.

And way to go Neptune, joker!
The Titanic is sinking in the dawn.
In the lifeboat the beds are all taken
and the captain shouts, “There still are some.”
And Ezra Pound and Thomas Eliot
are fighting in the captain’s tower.
The calypso players laugh at them
while the sky is becoming distant,
and leaning from their windows to the sea
everyone fishes for mimosas and lilacs
and no one has to be too worried
about Poverty Way.

At midnight on the dot the police
do their usual work
putting handcuffs around the wrists
of the ones who know more than they do.
The prisoners come to be dragged
to an improvised Calvary nearby,
and lance corporal Adolf informed them
that they will all pass from the chimney,
and the wind laughs strongly,
and no one will manage to trick his destiny
on Poverty Way.

Your letter I had just yesterday,
you recount everything you’re doing.
But don’t be ridiculous,
don’t ask me “How are you?”
These people of whom you're speaking
are people like all of us,
it doesn’t seem to me that they’re monsters,
it doesn’t seem to me that they’re heroes.
And don’t send me still your news,
no one will respond to you
if you insist on sending your letters
from Poverty Way.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Canzoni, released in 1974, was a "filler" album, like Volume III, desired by De André's label. The only three previously unreleased songs here are covers of Dylan's "Desolation Row" and of two songs by Georges Brassens. Also included are two covers of Leonard Cohen songs.


De André/De Gregori text, translated, for Desolation Row:

The beauty parlor at the back of the alley
is packed with sailors.
Try to ask one what time it is
and he’ll tell you “I never knew it.”
The postcards of the hanging
are for sale, a hundred lira apiece.
The blind commissioner behind the station
reads your misfortune for a clue
and the restless forces of order
search for something that doesn’t work
while my lady and I look out the window tonight
onto Poverty Way.

Cinderella seems so easy,
every time she smiles she catches you,
reminiscent of Bette Davis
with her hands resting against her belt.
Romeo arrives panting
and shouts to her “My love, it’s you.”
But someone tells him to go away
and not to try it again,
and the only sound that remains
when the ambulance goes
is Cinderella sweeping the street
on Poverty Way.

While the dawn is killing the moon
and the stars are almost hidden,
the fortune telling lady
went away in the company of the innkeeper.
Except for Cain and Abel
everyone went to make love,
expecting that the rain might come
to water down the joy and the sorrow.
And the Good Samaritan
is honing his mercy,
he’ll go to the Carnival tonight
on Poverty Way.

The three Wise Men are desperate,
Baby Jesus became old
and Mister Hyde is crying disconcerted
watching Jeckyll who is laughing in the mirror.
Ofelia is behind the window,
no one ever told her that she’s beautiful.
At only twenty two years of age
she’s already an old maid.
Her death will be very romantic,
transforming herself into gold she’ll go away.
For now she walks back and forth
on Poverty Way.

Einstein, dressed as a drunkard,
hid his notes in a trunk.
He passed this way an hour ago
straight towards the final Thule.
He seemed so shy and scared
when he asked to stop a bit here,
but then he started to smoke
and to recite the A B C's,
and to see him you would never say it,
but he was famous some time ago
for playing the electric violin
on Poverty Way.

In preparing for the big party
there’s someone who’s starting to be thirsty
The phantom of the opera
is dressed in the clothes of a priest,
he is force feeding Casanova
to punish him for his sensuality.
He'll kill him, speaking to him of love
after having poisoned him with pity,
and while the phantom shouts
three girls are already stripped naked -
Casanova is about to be raped
on Poverty Way.

And way to go Neptune, joker!
The Titanic is sinking in the dawn.
In the lifeboat the beds are all taken
and the captain shouts, “There still are some.”
And Ezra Pound and Thomas Eliot
are fighting in the captain’s tower.
The calypso players laugh at them
while the sky is becoming distant,
and leaning from their windows to the sea
everyone fishes for mimosas and lilacs
and no one has to be too worried
about Poverty Way.

At midnight on the dot the police
do their usual work
putting handcuffs around the wrists
of the ones who know more than they do.
The prisoners come to be dragged
to an improvised Calvary nearby,
and lance corporal Adolf informed them
that they will all pass from the chimney,
and the wind laughs strongly,
and no one will manage to trick his destiny
on Poverty Way.

Your letter I had just yesterday,
you recount everything you’re doing.
But don’t be ridiculous,
don’t ask me “How are you?”
These people of whom you're speaking
are people like all of us,
it doesn’t seem to me that they’re monsters,
it doesn’t seem to me that they’re heroes.
And don’t send me still your news,
no one will respond to you
if you insist on sending your letters
from Poverty Way.
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