Thursday, July 3, 2014

Volume 8:
   Dolce Luna - Sweet Moon

Cammina come un vecchio marinaio
non ha più un posto dove andare
la terra sotto i piedi non lo aspetta
strano modo di ballare
sua moglie ha un altro uomo e un'altra donna,
è proprio un uomo da buttare
e nelle tasche gli è rimasta solo
un po' di polvere di mare
e non può testimoniare.

Si muove sopra i sassi
come un leone invernale
ti può parlare ore ed ore
della sua quarta guerra mondiale
conserva la sua cena
dentro a un foglio di giornale
la sua ragazza "esca dalle lunghe gambe"
fa all'amore niente male
e non può testimoniare.

Lui vide il marinaio indiano
alzarsi in piedi e barcollare
con un coltello nella schiena
tra la schiuma e la stella polare
e il timoniere di Shanghai
tornò tranquillo a pilotare
e lui lo vide con l'anello al dito
e un altro anello da rubare
ma non può testimoniare.

Dal buio delle tango notti "Balla Linda"
alla paralisi di un porto,
la luce delle stelle chiare
come un rifugio capovolto,
la sua balena "Dolce Luna"
che lo aspetta in alto mare,
gli ha detto molte volte "Amore,
con chi mi vuoi dimenticare"
e non può testimoniare
e non può testimoniare.

E tu mi vieni a dire voglio un figlio
su cui potermi regolare
con due occhi qualunque e il terzo occhio
inconfondibile e speciale
che non ti importa niente
se non riuscirà a nuotare
l'importante è che abbia sulla guancia destra
quella mia voglia di mare
e mi dici ancora che il mio nome
glielo devo proprio dare
ma non so testimoniare
io non so testimoniare.

Dolce Luna © 1975 Fabrizio De André/Francesco De Gregori

De André and De Gregori had worked together on the translation of Bob Dylan's Desolation Row that appeared on De Andrè's previous album. Perhaps "Dolce Luna" was crafted out of an admiration for Dylan's often cryptic and image-rich lyric style. The line about "long-legged bait" refers to a Dylan Thomas poem "Ballad of the Long-legged Bait" from his 1946 collection Deaths and Entrances.

He walks like an old sailor,
he no longer has any place to go.
The ground under his feet doesn't wait for him -
strange way of dancing.
His wife has another man and another woman,
it’s just a man to throw out,
and in his pockets there remains only
a bit of dust from the sea,
and he cannot testify.

He moves over the stones
like a winter lion,
he can talk to you for hours and hours
about his fourth world war.
He saves his dinner
wrapped in newspaper
His girl “long-legged bait”
makes love not bad,
and he cannot testify.

He saw the Indian sailor
getting up on his feet and staggering
with a knife in his back
between the foam and the North Star,
and the coxswain of Shanghai
returned, calm, to pilot
and he saw him with a ring on his finger
and another ring to steal,
but he cannot testify.

From the darkness of the tango nights “Pretty Dance”
to the paralysis of a harbor,
the bright starlight
like a refuge overturned.
His whale “Sweet Moon”
that waited for him in high seas,
told him many times “Love,
with whom do you want to forget me?”
And he cannot testify
and he cannot testify.

And you come to me to say I want a son
on whom I can model myself,
with any old two eyes and a third eye,
unmistakable and special,
that you don’t give a damn about
if he doesn’t manage to swim.
The important thing is that he has on the right cheek
that mark of mine for the sea.
And you still tell me that my name
I just have to give to him,
but I don’t know how to testify
I don’t know how to testify.

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, though, you will find plenty to like here, critics be damned!
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