Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Volume 8:
   Canzone per l'estate - Song for the Summer

Con tua moglie che lavava
i piatti in cucina e non capiva
Con tua figlia che provava
il suo vestito nuovo e sorrideva
Con la radio che ronzava
per il mondo cose strane
E il respiro del tuo cane che dormiva

Coi tuoi santi sempre pronti
a benedire i tuoi sforzi per il pane
Con il tuo bambino biondo a cui
hai donato una pistola per Natale,
che sembra vera
Con il letto in cui tua moglie
non ti ha mai saputo dare
e gli occhiali che fra un po' dovrai cambiare

Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare

Con le tue finestre aperte sulla strada
e gli occhi chiusi sulla gente
Con la tua tranquillità, lucidità,
soddisfazione permanente
La tua coda di ricambio,
le tue nuvole in affitto
e le tue rondini di guardia sopra il tetto

Con il tuo francescanesimo a puntate
e la tua dolce consistenza
Col tuo ossigeno purgato
e le tue onde regolate in una stanza
Col permesso di trasmettere
e il divieto di parlare
e ogni giorno un altro giorno da contare

Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare

Con i tuoi entusiasmi lenti
precisati da ricordi stagionali
E una bella addormentata che si sveglia
a tutto quel che le regali
Con il tuo collezionismo
di parole complicate
La tua ultima canzone per l'estate

Con le tue mani di carta
per avvolgere altre mani normali
Con l'idiota in giardino
ad isolare le tue rose migliori
Col tuo freddo di montagna
e il divieto di sudare
E più niente per poterti vergognare

Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare

Canzone per l'estate © 1975 Fabrizio De André/Francesco De Gregori

The music of "Canzone per l'estate" is entirely De Gregori's, while the lyrics were co-written. De André described the song as somewhat autobiographical, describing the tension between the bourgeois life he grew up in and lived much of his life in, and his attraction to anarchism and to society's outcasts who seemed more genuine and alive than the upper classes. Indeed the song describes well the soul-sapping nature of a comfortable, prosperous life that takes one away from vitality and even political engagement ("your eyes closed to the people").

With your wife who washed
dishes in the kitchen and didn’t understand,
with your daughter who tried on
her new outfit and smiled,
with the radio that droned
strange things for the world,
and the breathing of your dog that slept.

With your saints ever ready
to bless your efforts to bring home the bread,
with your little blonde boy to whom
for Christmas you gave a pistol
that seemed real,
with the bed in which your wife
never knew how to give to you,
and the glasses you’ll have to change in a bit.

How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?

With your windows open onto the street
and your eyes closed to the people
with your calmness, lucidity,
permanent satisfaction
your tail of change,
your rented clouds
and your swallows on guard on the roof

With your Franciscanism in installments
and your sweet substance,
with your purified oxygen
and the dialed-in waves in your room,
with permission to broadcast
and speaking prohibited
and every day another day to count.

How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?

With your slow enthusiasms
defined by seasonal memories
and a sleeping beauty who wakes up
to every gift that you give to her,
with your collecting
of complicated words,
your final song for the summer.

With your hands of paper
for wrapping other normal hands,
with the idiot in the garden
to isolate your best roses,
with your mountain coldness
and the ban on sweating
and nothing more that can embarrass you.

How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?

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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