Thursday, November 6, 2014

Le nuvole:
    Don Raffaè

Io mi chiamo Pasquale Cafiero
e son brigadiere del carcere oinè
io mi chiamo Cafiero Pasquale
sto a Poggio Reale dal '53

e al centesimo catenaccio
alla sera mi sento uno straccio
per fortuna che al braccio speciale
c'è un uomo geniale che parla co' me

Tutto il giorno con quattro infamoni
briganti, papponi, cornuti e lacchè
tutte l'ore cò 'sta fetenzia
che sputa minaccia e s'à piglia cò me

ma alla fine m'assetto papale
mi sbottono e mi leggo 'o giornale
mi consiglio con don Raffae'
mi spiega che penso e bevimm'ò cafè

A che bell'ò cafè
pure in carcere 'o sanno fa
co' à ricetta ch'à Ciccirinella
compagno di cella
ci ha dato mammà

Prima pagina venti notizie
ventuno ingiustizie e lo Stato che fa
si costerna, s'indigna, s'impegna
poi getta la spugna con gran dignità
mi scervello e mi asciugo la fronte
per fortuna c'è chi mi risponde
a quell'uomo sceltissimo immenso
io chiedo consenso a don Raffaè

Un galantuomo che tiene sei figli
ha chiesto una casa e ci danno consigli
mentre 'o assessore che Dio lo perdoni
'ndrento a 'e roullotte ci tiene i visoni
voi vi basta una mossa una voce
c'ha 'sto Cristo ci levano 'a croce
con rispetto s'è fatto le tre
volite 'a spremuta o volite 'o cafè

A che bell'ò cafè
pure in carcere 'o sanno fa
co' à ricetta ch'à Ciccirinella
compagno di cella
ci ha dato mammà

A che bell'ò cafè
pure in carcere 'o sanno fa
co' à ricetta ch'à Ciccirinella
compagno di cella
preciso a mammà

Qui ci stà l'inflazione, la svalutazione
e la borsa ce l'ha chi ce l'ha
io non tengo compendio che chillo stipendio
e un ambo se sogno 'a papà
aggiungete mia figlia Innocenza
vuo' marito non tiene pazienza
non chiedo la grazia pe' me
vi faccio la barba o la fate da sé

Voi tenete un cappotto cammello
che al maxi processo eravate 'o chiù bello
un vestito gessato marrone
così ci è sembrato alla televisione
pe' 'ste nozze vi prego Eccellenza
mi prestasse pe' fare presenza
io già tengo le scarpe e 'o gillè
gradite 'o Campari o volite 'o cafè

A che bell'ò cafè
pure in carcere 'o sanno fa
co' à ricetta ch'à Ciccirinella
compagno di cella
ci ha dato mammà

A che bell'ò cafè
pure in carcere 'o sanno fa
co' à ricetta ch'à Ciccirinella
compagno di cella
preciso a mamma

Qui non c'è più decoro le carceri d'oro
ma chi l'ha mai viste chissà
chiste so' fatiscienti pe' chisto i fetienti
se tengono l'immunità

don Raffaè voi politicamente
io ve lo giuro sarebbe 'no santo
ma 'ca dinto voi state a pagà
e fora chiss'atre se stanno a spassà

A proposito tengo 'no frate
che da quindici anni sta disoccupato
chill'ha fatto cinquanta concorsi
novanta domande e duecento ricorsi
voi che date conforto e lavoro
Eminenza vi bacio v'imploro
chillo duorme co' mamma e co' me
che crema d'Arabia ch'è chisto cafè

Don Raffaè © 1990 Fabrizio De André/Mauro Pagani/Massimo Bubola

"Don Raffaè" is based on the Italian crime boss Raffaele Cutolo, who has spent most of his life in prisons since 1963. Through his charisma and relational skills he was able to build and control a crime organization from within prison, and was also able to lead a remarkably comfortable life, complete with a personal chef to supply him his daily meals of lobster and wine. The chorus makes reference to Domenico Modugno's 1958 paean to coffee, "'O ccafe'", and to the importance of coffee in the cultural life of Naples.



My name is Pasquale Cafiero
and I’m the prison C.O. Sergeant.
My name is Cafiero Pasquale,
I’ve been at Poggio Reale since ’53.

And by the hundredth deadbolt
of the evening I feel like a wet rag,
lucky that in the special wing
there’s a brilliant man who speaks with me.

All day long with four villains –
robbers, pimps, bastards and lackeys –
all the hours with this rottenness
that spews threats and that rags on me.

But in the end I seat myself pope-like,
I unbutton, and read me the paper.
I consult with don Raffaè.
He explains my thinking, and we drink coffee.

Ah what great coffee –
even in jail they know how to make it,
with the recipe that
cellmate Ciccirinella’s mama
gave to him.

Front page, twenty news items,
twenty-one injustices, and what does the State do?
It’s dismayed, it’s indignant, it makes a pledge,
then it throws in the towel with great dignity.
I puzzle over it, dry my forehead,
luckily there is one who answers me.
Of that man, immense and most refined,
of don Raffaè I ask for his consensus.

A gentleman, who has six children,
requested a house and they gave advice,
while the alderman, may God pardon him,
raises minks inside these trailers.
From you, one move, one voice is enough,
for this Christ they take away the cross.
With respect, it’s three o'clock,
do you want the juice or do you want the coffee?

Ah what great coffee –
even in jail they know how to make it,
with the recipe that
cellmate Ciccirinella's mama
gave to him.

Ah what great coffee –
even in jail they know how to make it,
with the recipe of
cellmate Ciccirinella,
exactly like mama’s.

Here there’s inflation, devaluation,
and the stock market has it, whoever has it,
I don’t hold a sum save for that salary of mine
and two lottery numbers if I dream of papa.
Add my daughter Innocenza.
She wants a husband, she has no patience.
I don’t beg for mercy for myself.
Do I shave you or do you do it by yourself?

You hold a camel hair coat
that at the Maxi Trial you were the most handsome,
a brown pinstripe suit,
so it seemed on TV.
For this wedding, I pray of you, your Excellence,
lend it to me to make a good appearance.
I already have the shoes and the vest,
do you like the Campari or do you want the coffee?

Ah what great coffee –
even in jail they know how to make it,
with the recipe that
cellmate Ciccirinella’s mama
gave to him.

Ah what great coffee –
even in jail they know how to make it,
with the recipe of
cellmate Ciccirinella,
exactly like mama’s.

Here there’s no more decorum, the prisons of gold -
but who ever saw them, who knows?
These are crumbling, for this reason the bastards
keep their immunity.

Don Raffaè – you, politically,
I swear it, you'd be a saint.
But here inside you have to pay,
and outside these others are amusing themselves.

Speaking of which, I have a brother
who for fifteen years has been unemployed.
That one’s done fifty competitive exams,
ninety applications and two hundred appeals.
You who give comfort and work,
Your Eminence I kiss you, I implore you:
that one sleeps with mama and with me.
What cream of Arabia this coffee is!

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


It took six years after the tremendous success of Creuza de mä for De André to release his next studio album, Le nuvole (The Clouds). In the meantime, he and Mauro Pagani explored several avenues of musical collaboration which did not come to fruition. De André had this to say about Le nuvole: "I realized that people are just pissed off, and since Le nuvole is a symbol of this dissatisfaction, the transference, the intermediary for this general discontent, I would say that the album was welcomed almost as a banner, like an emblem of the anger in the face of a nation that is going to the dogs, and certainly not through any fault of the citizens." Additionally, Mauro Pagani said the album was a fantastic description of Italy in the 1980s, with parallels to Europe in the early 1800s: "Italy in the early 1980s was like Europe in 1815: the Congress of Vienna, the fall of the Napoleonic empire, the sharing of the goods among the winning powers, social classes built on wealth instead of aristocracy, a society of fake Christianity . . ." The title of and inspiration for the album came from the comedy of the same name by Aristophanes, whom De André greatly admired.
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1 comment:

  1. "brigadiere" it is not a prison commander but rather a prison guard. "Brigadiere" technically speaking is a grade on the hierarchy of the prison guard, just a step above a common prison guard but far far away from the head of the prison

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