Friday, August 1, 2014

Rimini:
    Parlando del naufragio della London Valour
    Speaking of the Shipwreck of the London Valour

I marinai foglie di coca digeriscono in coperta
il capitano ha un'amore al collo
venuto apposta dall'Inghilterra
il pasticcere di via Roma sta scendendo le scale
ogni dozzina di gradini trova una mano da pestare
ha una frusta giocattolo sotto l'abito da tè.

E la radio di bordo è una sfera di cristallo
dice che il vento si farà lupo
il mare si farà sciacallo
il paralitico tiene in tasca un uccellino blu cobalto
ride con gli occhi al circo Togni
quando l'acrobata sbaglia il salto.

E le ancore hanno perduto la scommessa e gli artigli
i marinai uova di gabbiano piovono sugli scogli
il poeta metodista ha spine di rosa nelle zampe
per far pace con gli applausi per sentirsi più distante
la sua stella si è oscurata
da quando ha vinto la gara del sollevamento pesi.

E con uno schiocco di lingua
parte il cavo dalla riva
ruba l'amore del capitano attorcigliandole la vita
il macellaio mani di seta
si è dato un nome da battaglia
tiene fasciate dentro il frigo
nove mascelle antiguerriglia
ha un grembiule antiproiettile
tra il giornale e il gilè.

E il pasticciere e il poeta
e il paralitico e la sua coperta
si ritrovarono sul molo
con sorrisi da cruciverba
a sorseggiarsi il capitano
che si sparava negli occhi
e il pomeriggio a dimenticarlo
con le sue pipe e i suoi scacchi
e si fiutarono compatti
nei sottintesi e nelle azioni
contro ogni sorta di naufragi o di altre rivoluzioni
e il macellaio mani di seta distribuì le munizioni.

Parlando del naufragio della London Valour © 1978 Fabrizio De André/Massimo Bubola

The shipwreck of the London Valour was an actual event that took place in Genoa in 1970. But the focus in this song is on the people who came out to the Genoa docks to rubber neck and watch the unfolding tragedy in morbid fascination. The lyrics are somewhat obtuse, with many possible references to political events and cultural figures from Italy's Years of Lead, (the late 1960's to the early 1980's), which were marked by tremendous social upheaval and terrorism.


The seamen are digesting coca leaves on deck,
the captain has a lover ‘round his neck,
just in from England.
The confectioner of Via Roma is descending the stairs,
every dozen steps he finds a hand to step on.
He has a toy whip under his tea coat.

And the radio on board is a crystal sphere,
it says the wind will becomee a wolf,
the sea will become a jackal.
The paraplegic holds in his pocket a little bird, cobalt blue.
He laughs with his eyes, at the Togni Circus,
when the acrobat fails his leap.

And the anchors lost the bet and their hold,
the seamen, seagull eggs, rained on the rocks.
The Methodist poet has rose thorns in his paws
to make peace with the acclaim, to feel more distant,
his star eclipsed
ever since he won the weightlifting contest.

And with a tongue click,
the cable parts from the bank,
steals the captain’s lover, entangling her waist.
The butcher, hands of silk,
gave himself a battle name.
He keeps, swaddled inside the refrigerator,
nine antiwar jawbones.
He has a bulletproof apron
between his newspaper and his vest.

And the confectioner and the poet
and the paraplegic and his blanket
met again on the dock,
with crossword puzzle smiles,
to nurse like a drink the captain
who shot himself in the eyes,
and by afternoon to forget him
with his pipes and his chessmen,
and they smelled secret agreements
in the innuendos and in the actions
against every kind of shipwreck or other revolutions.
And the butcher, hands of silk, handed out the munitions.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Rimini grew out of De André's disappointments with the political events of the previous couple of years. In close collaboration with Massimo Bubola, a young 24-year-old who had just released his first album, De André explored several social and political themes, including abortion, homosexuality, and how the petty bourgeois attempted to move into the ranks of the powerful and rise above the political and social turmoil of the times. The music has more influence from American rock and pop music than previous albums, and includes his first forays into ethnic music, which will eventually come to full fruition in his masterpiece album Crêuza de mä.
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