Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fabrizio De André:
    Quello che non ho - What I Don't Have

Quello che non ho è una camicia bianca
quello che non ho è un segreto in banca
quello che non ho sono le tue pistole
per conquistarmi il cielo per guadagnarmi il sole.

Quello che non ho è di farla franca
quello che non ho è quel che non mi manca
quello che non ho sono le tue parole
per guadagnarmi il cielo per conquistarmi il sole.

Quello che non ho è un orologio avanti
per correre più in fretta e avervi più distanti
quello che non ho è un treno arrugginito
che mi riporti indietro da dove sono partito.

Quello che non ho sono i tuoi denti d'oro
quello che non ho è un pranzo di lavoro
quello che non ho è questa prateria
per correre più forte della malinconia.

Quello che non ho sono le mani in pasta
quello che non ho è un indirizzo in tasca
quello che non ho sei tu dalla mia parte
quello che non ho è di fregarti a carte.

Quello che non ho è una camicia bianca
quello che non ho è di farla franca
quello che non ho sono le sue pistole
per conquistarmi il cielo per guadagnarmi il sole.

Quello che no ho © 1981 Fabrizio De André/Massimo Bubola

"Quello che non ho" starts off with the sounds of a wild boar hunt recorded on Sardinia. Then the blues-riffing guitar insinuates itself and the song unfolds as a kind of manifesto against materialism, a listing of the things that Native American cultures and traditional Sardinian cultures wouldn't have but their conquering cultures would. As journalist Elia Perboni wrote in a review, the Indian "explains what separates him from the white man and explains the difference between the one who exterminates his race and the one who never accepts the compromise of forgetting his own culture."



What I don’t have is a white shirt.
What I don’t have is a secret in the bank.
What I don’t have are your pistols
for conquering the sky and earning the sun for myself.

What I don’t have is getting off scot free.
What I don’t have is what I don’t miss.
What I don’t have are your words
for earning the sky and for conquering the sun for myself.

What I don’t have is a watch that’s fast
for running in more of a hurry and having you more distant.
What I don’t have is a rusted train
that takes me backwards from where I departed.

What I don’t have are your gold teeth.
What I don’t have is a meal at work.
What I don’t have is this grassland
for running stronger than the melancholy.

What I don’t have is a finger in every pie.
What I don’t have is the directions in my pocket.
What I don’t have is you on my side.
What I don’t have is to take you at cards.

What I don’t have is a white shirt.
What I don’t have is getting off scot free.
What I don’t have are your pistols
for conquering the sky and earning the sun for myself.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


The album Fabrizio De André is better known as L'indiano based on the cover (a Frederic Remington painting "The Outlier") as well as on the contents of the album. Released in 1981, the album grew out of deep reflections on the similarity between Sardinian culture and 19th century Native American culture. De André and his partner Dori Ghezzi had been kidnapped and held for almost four months in 1979 on the island of Sardinia, where De André lived much of the year. In his words, "an experience of this kind helps one rediscover fundamental values of life. You realize what it means to have warm feet, and what a great conquest it is to not have water dripping on your head while you sleep." De André and co-writer Massimo Bubola were familiar with the Native American story through books like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and movies like Little Big Man. De André's reflections on Sardinian and Cheyenne ways began as he sensed a similarity between the values of his captors (whom he refused to denounce at trial, stating they were the prisoners, not he) and those of Cheyenne warriors who risked death to steal horses from enemy tribes. He cited other similarities between the two peoples: economies based on subsistence not productivity, love and respect for nature, lack of interest in money beyond bare necessity, a great love for children, and both cultures being menaced by external forces invading traditional ways of life.
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