Monday, September 8, 2014

Fabrizio De André:
    Fiume Sand Creek - Sand Creek

Si son presi il nostro cuore sotto una coperta scura
sotto una luna morta piccola dormivamo senza paura
fu un generale di vent'anni
occhi turchini e giacca uguale
fu un generale di vent'anni
figlio d'un temporale

c'è un dollaro d'argento sul fondo del Sand Creek.

I nostri guerrieri troppo lontani sulla pista del bisonte
e quella musica distante diventò sempre più forte
chiusi gli occhi per tre volte
mi ritrovai ancora lì
chiesi a mio nonno è solo un sogno
mio nonno disse sì

a volte i pesci cantano sul fondo del Sand Creek

Sognai talmente forte che mi uscì il sangue dal naso
il lampo in un orecchio nell'altro il paradiso
le lacrime più piccole
le lacrime più grosse
quando l'albero della neve
fiorì di stelle rosse

ora i bambini dormono nel letto del Sand Creek

Quando il sole alzò la testa tra le spalle della notte
c'erano solo cani e fumo e tende capovolte
tirai una freccia in cielo
per farlo respirare
tirai una freccia al vento
per farlo sanguinare

la terza freccia cercala sul fondo del Sand Creek

Si son presi il nostro cuore sotto una coperta scura
sotto una luna morta piccola dormivamo senza paura
fu un generale di vent'anni
occhi turchini e giacca uguale
fu un generale di vent'anni
figlio d'un temporale

ora i bambini dormono sul fondo del Sand Creek

Fiume Sand Creek © 1981 Fabrizio De André/Massimo Bubola

"Fiume Sand Creek" is based on the Civil War massacre of a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho native Americans by a bloodthirsty U.S. Army Colonel despite the fact that the assailants raised both the American flag and white flags of truce. Two company commanders refused to participate, one of whom, Capt. Silas Soule, testified to the Army about the carnage. In a letter to his former commanding officer he wrote: "I refused to fire, and swore that none but a coward would, for by this time hundreds of women and children were coming towards us, and getting on their knees for mercy. I tell you Ned it was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized."



Our hearts were taken under cover of darkness,
under a small dead moon we slept without fear.
He was a general of twenty years,
dark eyes, and same for the jacket.
He was a general of twenty years,
son of a thunder storm.

There’s a silver dollar at the bottom of Sand Creek.

Our warriors too far away on the trail of the bison,
and that distant music became louder and louder.
I closed my eyes three times,
I found myself still there.
I asked my grandpa is it only a dream?
My grandpa said yes.

At times the fish sing at the bottom of Sand Creek.

I dreamed so vividly that blood ran out from my nose,
lightning in one ear and heaven in the other,
the smallest tears,
the biggest tears,
when the snowy tree
blossomed with red stars.

Now the little ones sleep in the bed of Sand Creek.

When the sun raised its head between the night's shoulders,
there were only dogs and smoke and overturned tents.
I fired an arrow into the sky
to make it breathe,
I fired an arrow into the wind
to make it bleed.

Search for the third arrow at the bottom of Sand Creek.

Our hearts were taken under cover of darkness,
under a small dead moon we slept without fear.
He was a general of twenty years,
dark eyes, and same for the jacket.
He was a general of twenty years,
son of a thunder storm.

Now the children sleep at the bottom of Sand Creek.

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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