Monday, December 1, 2014

Anime salve
    Smisurata preghiera - Boundless Prayer

Alta sui naufragi
dai belvedere delle torri
china e distante
sugli elementi del disastro
dalle cose che accadono
al disopra delle parole
celebrative del nulla
lungo un facile vento
di sazietà di impunità

Sullo scandalo metallico
di armi in uso e in disuso
a guidare la colonna
di dolore e di fumo
che lascia le infinite battaglie
al calar della sera
la maggioranza sta
la maggioranza sta

recitando un rosario
di ambizioni meschine
di millenarie paure
di inesauribili astuzie
coltivando tranquilla
l'orribile varietà
delle proprie superbie
la maggioranza sta

come una malattia
come una sfortuna
come un'anestesia
come un'abitudine

per chi viaggia in direzione
ostinata e contraria
col suo marchio speciale
di speciale disperazione
e tra il vomito dei respinti
muove gli ultimi passi
per consegnare alla morte
una goccia di splendore
di umanità di verità

per chi ad Aqaba curò la lebbra
con uno scettro posticcio
e seminò il suo passaggio
di gelosie devastatrici e di figli
con improbabili nomi
di cantanti di tango
in un vasto programma
di eternità

ricorda Signore
questi servi disobbedienti
alle leggi del branco
non dimenticare il loro volto
che dopo tanto sbandare
è appena giusto che la fortuna li aiuti

come una svista
come un'anomalia
come una distrazione
come un dovere

Smisurata preghiera © 1996 Fabrizio De André/Ivano Fossati

"Smisurata preghiera" is a song where again the lyrics were from De André and the music from Fossati. Five years prior, De André had discovered the writings of the Colombian Alvaro Mutis. He was so taken with them that he reached out to Mutis and asked if he would have any objections to De André taking lines from his books to use in a song he wanted to write. Mutis was game, and De André proceeded to use lines from two novels and one anthology of poems, putting them together and rearranging and changing them until he had built the song he had in mind. To give a couple examples, the opening lines of the song - "High above the shipwrecks from the viewpoint of the towers" comes from Mutis's poem "Stars for Arthur Rimbaud" which includes the line "And from the viewpoint of the highest tower." From another poem, "The Elements of Disaster," De André wove the title into the line "bowed and distant over the elements of disaster." In the first half of the song De André posits a cultural majority that stands above the disastrous fray, insensitive, prideful, small of spirit and going along with the world as it is. The second half of the song brings in those who go their own way, against the tide of the mainstream culture, and De André would include in this mix all marginalized people - the poor, social outcasts, and rebels of many stripes. The song then becomes an invocation and prayer that these "servants disobedient to the laws of the herd" will also be held in the Lord's thoughts and that, perhaps, some good fortune will, even ought, to come their way.




"For one who travels in a direction stubborn and contrary, with his special mark of special desperation, and through the vomit of the rejected, he moves the final steps to deliver to death a drop of splendor, of humanity, of truth."
High above the shipwrecks
from the lookouts of the towers,
bowed and distant
over the elements of disaster
from the things that happen
above the words
commemorative of nothing,
along an easy wind
of satiety, of impunity,

on the metallic scandal
of arms in use or disuse
for guiding the column
of sadness and smoke
that leaves the infinite battles
at the falling of night,
the majority stands,
the majority stands.

Reciting a rosary
of petty ambitions,
of thousand-year-old fears,
of inexhaustible tricks,
cultivating calm,
the terrible variety
of their own arrogances,
the majority stands.

Like an illness,
like a misfortune,
like an anesthetic,
like a habit.

For one who travels in a direction
stubborn and contrary,
with his special mark
of special desperation,
and through the vomit of the rejected,
he moves the final steps
to deliver unto death
a drop of splendor,
of humanity, of truth.

For him who at Aqaba cured leprosy
with a faux scepter
and sowed his passage
with devastating jealousies and children
with improbable names,
with singers of tango
in a vast program
of eternity.

Remember, Lord,
these servants disobedient
to the laws of the herd.
Don’t forget their face
that, after so much disbanding,
it’s just right that luck helps them.

Like an oversight,
like an anomaly,
like a distraction,
like a duty.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Anime salve was released in 1996, the last of De André's thirteen studio albums. The songs were co-written by De André and Ivano Fossati, and the studio recording was co-produced by De André and Piero Milesi. De André referred to the album both as "a type of eulogy for solitude" and "a discourse on freedom." Here you will discover an album with De André at his full powers as lyricist and singer with his rich baritone in a musical setting that is striking, musically sophisticated and varied, with musical references to South America, the Balkans and the Mediterranean. The album was voted best Italian album of 1997 by the readers of La Repubblica and critics voted De André as the best Italian artist. The album also received the prestigious Targa Tenco prize for best album of 1997.


Ivano Fossati
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