Sunday, October 5, 2014

Creuza de mä:
    Sidùn - Sidon

U mæ nininu mæ
u mæ
lerfe grasse au su
d'amë d'amë
    Il mio bambino il mio
    il mio
    labbra grasse al sole
    di miele di miele

tûmù duçe benignu
de teu muaè
spremmûu 'nta maccaia
de stæ de stæ
    tumore dolce benigno
    di tua madre
    spremuto nell'afa umida
    dell'estate dell'estate

e oua grûmmu de sangue ouëge
e denti de laete
    e ora grumo di sangue orecchie
    e denti di latte

e i euggi di surdatti chen arraggë
cu'a scciûmma a a bucca cacciuéi de bæ
a scurrï a gente cumme selvaggin-a
finch'u sangue sarvaegu nu gh'à smurtau a qué
    e gli occhi dei soldati cani arrabbiati
    con la schiuma alla bocca cacciatori di agnelli

    a inseguire la gente come selvaggina
    finché il sangue selvatico non gli ha spento la voglia

e doppu u feru in gua i feri d'ä prixún
e 'nte ferie a semensa velenusa d'ä depurtaziún
perché de nostru da a cianûa a u meü
nu peua ciû cresce ni aerbu ni spica ni figgeü
    e dopo il ferro in gola i ferri della prigione
    e nelle ferite il seme velenoso della deportazione

    perché di nostro dalla pianura al molo
    non possa più crescere né albero né spiga né figlio

ciao mæ 'nin l'ereditæ
l'è ascusa
'nte sta çittæ
ch'a brûxa ch'a brûxa
inta seia che chin-a
    ciao bambino mio l'eredità
    è nascosta

    in questa città
    che brucia che brucia
    nella sera che scende

e in stu gran ciaeu de feugu
pe a teu morte piccin-a
    e in questa grande luce di fuoco
    per la tua piccola morte

Sidùn © 1984 Fabrizio De André/Mauro Pagani

Sidon is a coastal city halfway between the southern border of Lebanon and Beirut. At the time this song was written, Lebanon was in the midst of a civil war that began in 1975 and that saw Israel invade and push towards Beirut in 1982. In De André's words, "Sidon is the Lebanese city that gave us, beyond the letters of our alphabet, even the invention of glass. I imagined myself, after the sudden attack of General Sharon in 1982, as a middle-aged Arab man, dirty, desperate, certainly poor, holding in his arms his own son, chewed up by the steel tracks of an armored tank. . . . The 'little death' alluded to at the end of this song should not be confused with the death of a little boy. Rather it is understood metaphorically as the end of a civilization and culture of a small country: Lebanon, Phoenicia, which at its discretion was perhaps the greatest nurse of Mediterranean civilization."

In 2004 Mauro Pagani rearranged "Sidùn," with parts of the text in Arabic and Hebrew.

My little boy, mine
oh mine,
fat lips in the sun,
of honey, of honey.

Sweet benign tumor
of your mother,
squeezed from the damp mugginess
of summer, of summer,

and now blood clotted ears
and milk white teeth.

And the eyes of the soldiers, rabid dogs
with foaming mouths, lamb hunters
following people like game
for as long as the wild blood has not spent its desire.

And after the iron in the throat, the irons of the prison,
and in the wounds the spiteful seed of deportation
so that from our line, from the plain to the pier,
no more can grow tree nor spike nor son.

Goodbye my child, my heritage
is lost
in this city
that burns, that burns
in the evening that descends,

and in this great light from the fire
for your little death.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

Creuza de mä received both critical and popular acclaim upon its release. David Byrne told Rolling Stone that Creuza de mä was one of the ten most important works of the Eighties. The album grew out of a deep collaboration between Mauro Pagani, founding member of PFM, and De André. Pagani had been studying Mediterranean musics - Balkan, Greek, Turkish - and De André suggested that they make a Mediterranean album together, partly as an act of identity and a declaration of independence from the strains of Anglo-American music that were then dominant: rock, pop and electronic music. De André once stated that "music should be a cathartic event, but today's music is only amphetamine-like, and enervating." While granting that Americans made great music that he too was influenced by, he felt there were different ways and different roots that were being smothered by the mass commercialization and success of American popular music; Creuza de mä was to be a synthesis of Mediterranean sounds, and it was indeed a stark contrast to the music of the time. De André's lyrics are in Genovese, a dialect that over the centuries absorbed many Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Spanish, French and even English words, and Pagani's music combined folk instruments (oud, shehnai, doumbek, bazouki, bağlama) with contemporary instrumentation, including Synclavier, creating what might be called an ethnic/pop masterpiece.

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