Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Anime salve
    Ho visto Nina volare - I Saw Nina Flying

Mastica e sputa
da una parte il miele
mastica e sputa
dall'altra la cera
mastica e sputa
prima che venga neve

luce luce lontana
più bassa delle stelle
sarà la stessa mano
che ti accende e ti spegne

ho visto Nina volare
tra le corde dell'altalena
un giorno la prenderò
come fa il vento alla schiena
e se lo sa mio padre
dovrò cambiar paese
se mio padre lo sa
mi imbarcherò sul mare

Mastica e sputa
da una parte il miele
mastica e sputa
dall'altra la cera
mastica e sputa
prima che faccia neve

stanotte è venuta l'ombra
l'ombra che mi fa il verso
le ho mostrato il coltello
e la mia maschera di gelso
e se lo sa mio padre
mi metterò in cammino
se mio padre lo sa
mi imbarcherò lontano

mastica e sputa
da una parte la cera
mastica e sputa
dall'altra parte il miele
mastica e sputa
prima che metta neve

ho visto Nina volare
tra le corde dell'altalena
un giorno la prenderò
come fa il vento alla schiena
luce luce lontana
che si accende e si spegne
quale sarà la mano
che illumina le stelle

mastica e sputa
prima che venga neve

Ho visto Nina volare © 1996 Fabrizio De André/Ivano Fossati

"Ho visto Nina volare" derives its title from De André's childhood when he lived in the mountains during the war and his childhood playmate was a girl named Nina. The opening and recurring verse about chewing and spitting stems from De André and Fossati having observed old women beekeepers in southern Italy doing just that in order to separate honey from the wax. The image is a wonderful symbol for the old traditional ways that know how to make use of the gifts of nature, and refers to the central theme of the song - the desire of the young to grow up and become independent, to move out from under the authority of the elders, while at the same time being fearful of the unknown. The song is enchanting in its simplicity, and unlike all the other songs on this album, which were reworked and refined intensely, "Ho visto Nina volare" came together within the course of an hour. De André had been working on a lyric inspired by a traditional song he had heard covered by Caetano Veloso, and Fossati had been refining independently a delicate guitar part that had taken shape over a few days. When De André asked Fossati to listen to his lyric, Fossati immediately thought it would go with his guitar. The combination worked and was in final form in just 40 minutes.

Chew and spit,
into one part the honey,
chew and spit,
into the other the wax.
Chew and spit,
before the snow comes.

Light, distant light,
lower than the stars,
it will be the very same hand
that turns you on and turns you off.

I saw Nina flying
between the ropes of the swing.
One day I’ll take her
as does the wind at her back.
And if my father knows about it,
I'll have to change locales.
If my father knows of it,
I’ll embark on the sea.

Chew and spit,
into one part the honey,
chew and spit,
into the other the wax.
Chew and spit,
before it gets snowy.

Tonight a shadow has come,
a shadow that imitates me.
I showed it the knife
and my mulberry mask,
and if my father knows about it,
I’ll take to the road.
If my father knows of it,
I’ll embark for afar.

Chew and spit,
into one part the wax,
chew and spit,
into the other part the honey.
Chew and spit,
before the snow sets in.

I saw Nina flying
between the ropes of the swing.
One day I’ll take her
as does the wind at her back.
Light, distant light
that turns on and turns off.
Which will be the hand
that lights up the stars?

Chew and spit,
before the snow comes.

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.
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