Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Volume 8:
   Amico fragile - Fragile Friend

Evaporato in una nuvola rossa
in una delle molte feritoie della notte
con un bisogno d'attenzione e d'amore
troppo, "Se mi vuoi bene piangi "
per essere corrisposti,
valeva la pena divertirvi le serate estive
con un semplicissimo "Mi ricordo":
per osservarvi affittare un chilo d'erba
ai contadini in pensione e alle loro donne
e regalare a piene mani oceani
ed altre ed altre onde ai marinai in servizio,
fino a scoprire ad uno ad uno i vostri nascondigli
senza rimpiangere la mia credulità:
perché già dalla prima trincea
ero più curioso di voi,
ero molto più curioso di voi.

E poi sospeso tra i vostri "Come sta"
meravigliato da luoghi meno comuni e più feroci,
tipo "Come ti senti amico, amico fragile,
se vuoi potrò occuparmi un'ora al mese di te"
"Lo sa che io ho perduto due figli"
"Signora lei è una donna piuttosto distratta."

E ancora ucciso dalla vostra cortesia
nell'ora in cui un mio sogno
ballerina di seconda fila,
agitava per chissà quale avvenire
il suo presente di seni enormi
e il suo cesareo fresco,
pensavo è bello che dove finiscono le mie dita
debba in qualche modo incominciare una chitarra.

E poi seduto in mezzo ai vostri arrivederci,
mi sentivo meno stanco di voi
ero molto meno stanco di voi.

Potevo stuzzicare i pantaloni della sconosciuta
fino a vederle spalancarsi la bocca.
Potevo chiedere ad uno qualunque dei miei figli
di parlare ancora male e ad alta voce di me.
Potevo barattare la mia chitarra e il suo elmo
con una scatola di legno che dicesse perderemo.
Potevo chiedervi come si chiama il vostro cane
Il mio è un po' di tempo che si chiama Libero.
Potevo assumere un cannibale al giorno
per farmi insegnare la mia distanza dalle stelle.
Potevo attraversare litri e litri di corallo
per raggiungere un posto che si chiamasse arrivederci.

E mai che mi sia venuto in mente,
di essere più ubriaco di voi
di essere molto più ubriaco di voi.

Amico fragile © 1975 Fabrizio De André/Francesco De Gregori

De André wrote "Amico fragile" in a drunken rage after attending a party of rich Italians vacationing on Sardinia. They were only interested in having him play guitar and sing his songs, whereas De André wanted to engage people in discussions about events unfolding in Italy. He became ever more frustrated and inebriated with the shallowness of the evening, returning home to stay up all night and produce this "stream of semi-consciousness" rant. The song was a staple in his live shows and was one of De André's favorites.

Evaporated into a red cloud
in one of the many hole-in-the-walls of the night,
with a need for attention and for love,
too much “If you care for me, cry”
to be requited.
It was good enough for you, to enjoy the summer evenings
with the simplest “I remember”:
to observe yourself renting a chunk of grass
to the retired countrymen and to their wives,
and giving handfuls of ocean
and waves and more waves to the hired deckhands
until discovering one by one your hideaways,
never missing my naiveté.
Because already, from the very first trench,
I was more curious than you,
I was much more curious than you.

And then left hanging between your "How-are-you?"s,
astonished by places not so common and oh so cruel,
like “How are you feeling, friend, fragile friend?
If you want I can devote an hour a month to you.”
“You know I lost two children.”
“Madam, you are one absent-minded woman.”

And still slayed by your courtesy
in the hour when one of my dreams,
a ballerina in the second row,
was agitating for who knows what to happen,
her here-and-now of enormous breasts
and her fresh C-section.
I was thinking it’s beautiful that where my fingers end
there would have to begin, in some way or other, a guitar.

And then seated in the midst of your goodbyes,
I felt less tired than you,
I was much less tired than you.

I could tease at the pants of the stranger
until I saw her mouth open wide.
I could ask someone or other from my kids’ circles
to talk loud and trashy about me.
I could barter my guitar and its protective helmet
for a wooden box that said on it "We Will Lose."
I could ask you the name of your dog,
mine is a little bit of time by the name of Free.
I could hire a cannibal a day
to make them teach me how far I am from the stars.
I could go through liter after liter of rotgut coral
to reach a place that was called Goodbye.

And never did it enter my mind
that I was drunker than you were,
that I was so much more wasted than you.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

Volume 8, released in 1975, was largely the fruit of three months of hanging out and writing with Francesco De Gregori at De André's Sardinia home, after De André had traveled to Rome to hear the young songwriter perform live. De André was inspired by the possibilities and extended an invitation to De Gregori to visit. Five of the songs have De Gregori's mark on them, and there are two new De André songs and another Leonard Cohen cover. Critics weren't too kind to this album, thinking it was too influenced by De Gregori and rather obscure in some of the lyrics. If you like De André you will find plenty to like here.
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