Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Cantico dei drogati - Canticle of the Junkies

Ho licenziato Dio gettato via un amore
per costruirmi il vuoto nell'anima e nel cuore
Le parole che dico non han più forma nè accento
si trasformano i suoni in un sordo lamento
Mentre fra gli altri nudi io striscio verso un fuoco
che illumina i fantasmi di questo osceno giuoco.
Come potrò dire a mia madre
che ho paura ?

Chi mi riparlerà di domani luminosi
dove i muti canteranno e taceranno i noiosi
Quando riascolterò il vento tra le foglie
sussurrare i silenzi che la sera raccoglie
Io che non vedo più che folletti di vetro
che mi spiano davanti che mi ridono dietro
Come potrò dire a mia madre
che ho paura ?

Perchè non hanno fatto delle grandi pattumiere
per i giorni già usati per queste ed altre sere?
E chi, chi sarà mai il buttafuori del sole
chi lo spinge ogni giorno sulla scena alle prime ore?
E soprattutto chi e perchè mi ha messo al mondo
dove vivo la mia morte con un anticipo tremendo?
Come potrò dire a mia madre
che ho paura ?

Quando scadrà l'affitto di questo corpo idiota
allora avrò il mio premio come una buona nota
Mi citeran di monito a chi crede sia bello
giocherellare a palla con il proprio cervello
Cercando di lanciarlo oltre il confine stabilito
che qualcuno ha tracciato ai bordi dell'infinito
Come potrò dire a mia madre
che ho paura ?

Tu che mi ascolti insegnami un alfabeto che sia
differente da quello della mia vigliaccheria

Cantico dei drogati © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Riccardo Mannerini/
Gian Piero Reverberi


The lyrics of "Cantico dei drogati" were derived from Riccardo Mannerini's poem "Eroina," then amplified into some of the most intense lyrics to be found in De André's work. De André described Mannerini as one of the most important figures in his life, with whom he had a deep connection. They shared an anarchist political philosophy, a free-spirited approach to life, an addiction to alcohol, and even a small apartment in Sant'Agostino. De André stated that he himself drank two bottles of whiskey a day from when he was 18 until the age of 45 when he promised his father, who was on his deathbed, that he would stop. He described the writing of "Cantico" as cathartic. A canticle is a song of praise taken from a Biblical text other than the Psalms, and would be familiar to Italians as part of the Roman Catholic liturgy. With God fired in the first line of the song, praise is replaced with a desperate call for help. Other musical collaborations with Mannerini can be heard on Senza orario, senza bandiera, the first album of the New Trolls.



Riccardo Mannerini and Fabrizio De André

I fired God and threw away a lover
to create the emptiness in my soul and in my heart.
The words I speak no longer have form nor accent,
the sounds turn into a muffled lament
while, among other naked ones, I crawl towards a fire
that illuminates the ghosts of this obscene game.
How will I tell my mother
that I’m afraid ?

Who will talk with me again about bright tomorrows
where the mute will sing and silence the dolts?
When will I listen again to the wind in the leaves,
whispering the silences the night collects?
I who no longer see that glass goblins
who spy on me beforehand, who laugh at me afterwards . . .
How can I tell my mother
that I’m afraid ?

How come they didn’t make some huge trashcans
for days already spent, for these and other nights?
And who, who will ever be the bouncer for the sun?
Who pushes it every day onto the stage in the early hours?
And above all, by whom and why was I put into the world
where I live out my death in a terrible advance?
How will I tell my mother
that I’m afraid ?

When the lease is up on this idiotic body,
then I’ll have my prize, like a good note.
They’ll cite me as a warning to whoever believes it’s great
to fiddle with one’s brain like a ball,
trying to launch it beyond the established boundary
that someone traced at the edges of infinity.
How can I tell my mother
that I’m afraid ?

You who hear me, teach me an alphabet that might be
different from that of my cowardice.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy, its unified scope inspired by the Moody Blues album The Days of Future Passed. In De André's own words, the album "speaks of death, not of bubble gum death with little bones, but of psychological death, moral death, mental death, that a normal person can encounter during his lifetime." After the success of Volume I, De André was provided for this next album a cutting edge recording studio complete with an 80-member orchestra, directed by Gian Piero Reverberi, and a children's chorus. The whole project was under the direction of Gian Piero's brother Gian Franco Reverberi. This album also met with commercial success, becoming the highest selling album in Italy in 1968. In 1969 a version of the album was made with De André re-recording the vocals in English. The album was not officially released.
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Primo intermezzo - First Interlude

Gli arcobaleni d'altri mondi
hanno colori che non so
lungo i ruscelli d'altri mondi
nascono fiori che non ho.

Gli arcobaleni d'altri mondi
hanno colori che non so
lungo i ruscelli d'altri mondi
nascono fiori che non ho.

Primo intermezzo © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

"Primo intermezzo" refers to addicts who inhabit a world far removed from reality.



The rainbows of other worlds
have colors I do not know.
Along the brooks of other worlds
grow flowers I do not have.

The rainbows of other worlds
have colors I do not know.
Along the brooks of other worlds
grow flowers I do not have.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy. In De André's own words, the album "speaks of death, not of bubble gum death with little bones, but of psychological death, moral death, mental death, that a normal person can encounter during his lifetime." After the success of Volume I, De André was provided for this next album a cutting edge recording studio complete with an 80-member orchestra, directed by Gian Piero Reverberi, and a children's chorus. The whole project was under the direction of Gian Piero's brother Gian Franco Reverberi. This album also met with commercial success, becoming the highest selling album in Italy in 1968. In 1969 a version of the album was made with De André re-recording the vocals in English. The album was not officially released.
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Leggenda di Natale - Christmas Tale

Parlavi alla luna giocavi coi fiori
avevi l'età che non porta dolori
e il vento era un mago, la rugiada una dea,
nel bosco incantato di ogni tua idea
nel bosco incantato di ogni tua idea

E venne l'inverno che uccide il colore
e un Babbo Natale che parlava d'amore
e d'oro e d'argento splendevano i doni
ma gli occhi eran freddi e non erano buoni
ma gli occhi eran freddi e non erano buoni

Coprì le tue spalle d'argento e di lana
di pelle e smeraldi intrecciò una collana
e mentre incantata lo stavi a guardare
dai piedi ai capelli ti volle baciare
dai piedi ai capelli ti volle baciare

E adesso che gli altri ti chiamano dea
l'incanto è svanito da ogni tua idea
ma ancora alla luna vorresti narrare
la storia d'un fiore appassito a Natale
la storia d'un fiore appassito a Natale

Leggenda di Natale © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

"Leggenda di Natale" takes inspiration from "Le Père Noël et la petite fille" (1960) by Georges Brassens. While Brassens's song is more like a recitation of the pleasures and gifts a child receives at Christmas, De André's rendition is about loss of innocence.

You used to talk to the moon and play with the flowers,
you were of an age that didn’t wear sorrows.
And the wind was a sorcerer, the rust a goddess
in the enchanted forest of every one of your ideas,
in the enchanted forest of every one of your ideas.

And winter came to kill the color,
and a St. Nick who spoke of love,
and of gold and silver sparkled the gifts.
But his eyes were cold and they weren't nice,
but his eyes were cold and they weren't nice.

He covered your shoulders with silver and wool,
he wove a necklace of leather and emeralds,
and while enchanted you stayed to watch him,
from head to toe he wanted to kiss you,
from head to toe he wanted to kiss you.

And now that others call you a goddess
the enchantment has vanished from every one of your ideas.
But you’d still like to tell the moon
the story of a faded flower at Christmastime,
the story of a faded flower at Christmastime.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy. In De André's own words, the album "speaks of death, not of bubble gum death with little bones, but of psychological death, moral death, mental death, that a normal person can encounter during his lifetime." After the success of Volume I, De André was provided for this next album a cutting edge recording studio complete with an 80-member orchestra, directed by Gian Piero Reverberi, and a children's chorus. The whole project was under the direction of Gian Piero's brother Gian Franco Reverberi. This album also met with commercial success, becoming the highest selling album in Italy in 1968. In 1969 a version of the album was made with De André re-recording the vocals in English. The album was not officially released.
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Monday, January 6, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Secondo intermezzo - Second Interlude

Sopra le tombe d'altri mondi
nascono fiori che non so

Ma tra i capelli d'altri amori
muoiono fiori che non ho

Secondo intermezzo © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

"Secondo intermezzo" notes again the have-nots looking in from the outside at the haves.


The English version of "Secondo intermezzo"

Above the tombs of other worlds
flowers are born that I don't know.

But in the hair of other lovers,
flowers die that I don't have.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy. In De André's own words, the album "speaks of death, not of bubble gum death with little bones, but of psychological death, moral death, mental death, that a normal person can encounter during his lifetime." After the success of Volume I, De André was provided for this next album a cutting edge recording studio complete with an 80-member orchestra, directed by Gian Piero Reverberi, and a children's chorus. The whole project was under the direction of Gian Piero's brother Gian Franco Reverberi. This album also met with commercial success, becoming the highest selling album in Italy in 1968. In 1969 a version of the album was made with De André re-recording the vocals in English. The album was not officially released.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Ballata degli impicatti - Ballad of the Hanged Men

Tutti morimmo a stento
ingoiando l'ultima voce
tirando calci al vento
vedemmo sfumare la luce.

L'urlo travolse il sole
l'aria divenne stretta
cristalli di parole
l'ultima bestemmia detta.

Prima che fosse finita
ricordammo a chi vive ancora
che il prezzo fu la vita
per il male fatto in un'ora.

Poi scivolammo nel gelo
di una morte senza abbandono
recitando l'antico credo
di chi muore senza perdono.

Chi derise la nostra sconfitta
e l'estrema vergogna ed il modo
soffocato da identica stretta
impari a conoscere il nodo.

Chi la terra ci sparse sull'ossa
e riprese tranquillo il cammino
giunga anch'egli stravolto alla fossa
con la nebbia del primo mattino.

La donna che celò in un sorriso
il disagio di darci memoria
ritrovi ogni notte sul viso
un insulto del tempo e una scoria.

Coltiviamo per tutti un rancore
che ha l'odore del sangue rappreso
ciò che allora chiamammo dolore
è soltanto un discorso sospeso.

Ballata degli impiccati © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
Gian Piero Reverberi


"La ballata degli impiccati" is closely related to a 1462 poem, "Ballade des pendus" by François Villon, written in prison while waiting for his execution. Whereas Villon asks for pity for the condemned, the lyrics of De Andrè and Bentivoglio express rancor for those who judged, for those who buried, even for those who remembered, all of whom will inevitably also meet their ends.

We all died a hard death,
swallowing the last voice.
Kicking in the wind,
we watched the light fade away.

The cry overwhelmed the sun,
the air became close,
crystals of words,
the final curse uttered.

Before it was all over
we remembered for whoever still lived
that the cost was life
for the harm done in an hour.

Then we slipped on the ice
of a dead man without neglect
reciting the ancient credo
of whoever dies without pardon.

Whoever mocked our defeat
and our extreme shame and our way,
choked by the very same grip
he might learn to recognize the knot.

Whoever spread the earth over the bones
and took to the road again, tranquil,
even he might arrive at the grave shocked,
with the fog of the early morning.

The woman who concealed in a smile
the discomfort of giving us memory -
you rediscover every night on your face
an insult of time and some dross.

We cultivate for everyone a resentment
that smells like clotted blood.
What we then called sadness
is just a suspended discourse.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy. In De André's own words, the album "speaks of death, not of bubble gum death with little bones, but of psychological death, moral death, mental death, that a normal person can encounter during his lifetime." After the success of Volume I, De André was provided for this next album a cutting edge recording studio complete with an 80-member orchestra, directed by Gian Piero Reverberi, and a children's chorus. The whole project was under the direction of Gian Piero's brother Gian Franco Reverberi. This album also met with commercial success, becoming the highest selling album in Italy in 1968. In 1969 a version of the album was made with De André re-recording the vocals in English. The album was not officially released.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Inverno - Winter

Sale la nebbia sui prati bianchi
come un cipresso nei camposanti
un campanile che non sembra vero
segna il confine fra la terra e il cielo.

Ma tu che vai, ma tu rimani
vedrai la neve se ne andrà domani
rifioriranno le gioie passate
col vento caldo di un'altra estate.

Anche la luce sembra morire
nell'ombra incerta di un divenire
dove anche l'alba diventa sera
e i volti sembrano teschi di cera.

Ma tu che vai, ma tu rimani
anche la neve morirà domani
l'amore ancora ci passerà vicino
nella stagione del biancospino.

La terra stanca sotto la neve
dorme il silenzio di un sonno greve
l'inverno raccoglie la sua fatica
di mille secoli,
da un'alba antica.

Ma tu che stai, perché rimani?
Un altro inverno tornerà domani
cadrà altra neve a consolare i campi
cadrà altra neve sui camposanti.

Inverno © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

"Inverno" is, according to De André, a song against the pursuit of guarantees when it comes to love, as if love were like an automobile. One must remain open to love, but without trying to condition when it might arise and when it might die.



The fog rises on the white meadow
like a cypress in the graveyards.
A bell tower that doesn’t seem real
marks the border between earth and heaven.

But you who go, but you who remain,
you will see the snow go away tomorrow.
Past joys will flower again
with the warm wind of another summer.

Light, too, seems to die
in the uncertain shadow of a becoming
where even dawn becomes evening,
and faces seem like wax skulls.

But you who go, but you who remain,
the snow will also die tomorrow.
Love will still pass near us
in the season of the hawthorn.

The tired earth under the snow
sleeps the silence of a heavy slumber.
The winter harvests its struggles
of a thousand centuries,
since an ancient dawn.

But you who are here, why do you stay?
Another winter returns tomorrow,
another snow will fall to console the fields,
another snow will fall on the graveyards.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy. In De André's own words, the album "speaks of death, not of bubble gum death with little bones, but of psychological death, moral death, mental death, that a normal person can encounter during his lifetime." After the success of Volume I, De André was provided for this next album a cutting edge recording studio complete with an 80-member orchestra, directed by Gian Piero Reverberi, and a children's chorus. The whole project was under the direction of Gian Piero's brother Gian Franco Reverberi. This album also met with commercial success, becoming the highest selling album in Italy in 1968. In 1969 a version of the album was made with De André re-recording the vocals in English. The album was not officially released.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Girotondo - Ring-Around-the-Rosie

Se verrà la guerra, Marcondiro'ndero
se verrà la guerra, Marcondiro'ndà
sul mare e sulla terra, Marcondiro'ndera
sul mare e sulla terra chi ci salverà?

Ci salverà il soldato che non la vorrà
ci salverà il soldato che la guerra rifiuterà.

La guerra è già scoppiata, Marcondiro'ndero
la guerra è già scoppiata, chi ci aiuterà.

Ci aiuterà il buon Dio, Marcondiro'ndera
ci aiuterà il buon Dio, lui ci salverà.

Buon Dio è già scappato, dove non si sa
buon Dio se n'è andato, chissà quando ritornerà.

L'aeroplano vola, Marcondiro'ndera
l'aeroplano vola, Marcondiro'ndà.

Se getterà la bomba, Marcondiro'ndero
se getterà la bomba chi ci salverà?

Ci salva l'aviatore che non lo farà
ci salva l'aviatore che la bomba non getterà.

La bomba è già caduta, Marcondiro'ndero
la bomba è già caduta, chi la prenderà?

La prenderanno tutti, Marcondiro'ndera
siam belli siamo brutti, Marcondiro'ndà

Siam grandi o siam piccini li distruggerà
siam furbi o siam cretini li fulminerà.

Ci sono troppe buche, Marcondiro'ndera
ci sono troppe buche, chi le riempirà?

Non potremo più giocare al Marcondiro'ndera
non potremo più giocare al Marcondiro'ndà.

E voi a divertirvi andate un po' più in là
andate a divertirvi dove la guerra non ci sarà.

La guerra è dappertutto, Marcondiro'ndera
la terra è tutta un lutto, chi la consolerà?

Ci penseranno gli uomini, le bestie i fiori
i boschi e le stagioni con i mille colori.

Di gente, bestie e fiori no, non ce n'è più
viventi siam rimasti noi e nulla più.

La terra è tutta nostra, Marcondiro'ndera
ne faremo una gran giostra, Marcondiro'ndà.

Abbiam tutta la terra Marcondiro'ndera
giocheremo a far la guerra, Marcondiro'ndà...

Girotondo © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

In "Girotondo," De André marries the joyous melody of a popular song "Marcondiro'ndera" with the deadly serious theme of the possible annihilation of humankind through the use of nuclear weapons in war, intensified with the use of a chldren's chorus. After the success of "La canzone di Marinella," Italy's state television station Rai invited De André often to sing his big hit. But De André refused until he could choose what material to present. Among other songs, he chose "La guerra di Piero" and "Girotondo," anti-war anthems that reflected De André's deeply held pacifism.

If war will come, Marcondiro'ndero
if war will come, Marcondiro’ndà
on the sea and on the land, Marcondiro'ndera
on the sea and on the land who will save us?

We’ll be saved by the soldier who doesn’t want it,
we’ll be saved by the soldier who refuses war.

The war has already broken out, Marcondiro'ndero,
the war has already broken out, who will help us?

The good Lord will help us, Marcondiro'ndera
the good Lord will help us, he will save us.

The Good Lord has already escaped, where is not known.
The Good Lord went away, who knows when he’ll return?

The airplane flies, Marcondiro'ndera
the airplane flies, Marcondiro’ndà.

If it drops the bomb, Marcondiro'ndero
if it drops the bomb who will save us?

We're saved by the aviator who won't do it,
the aviator who won’t drop the bomb saves us.

The bomb has fallen already, Marcondiro'ndero
the bomb has fallen already, who will take it?

Everyone will take it, Marcondiro'ndera
whether we are lovely or we're ugly, Marcondiro’ndà.

Whether we are big or we're small, it will destroy us,
whether we are clever or we're fools, it will strike us.

There are too many holes, Marcondiro'ndera
there are too many holes, who will fill them?

We can no longer play at Marcondiro'ndera
we can no longer play at Marcondiro’ndà.

And you all go a little further on to amuse yourselves,
you go for amusement where the war won’t be.

War is everywhere, Marcondiro'ndera
the earth is all one mourning, who will console it?

They'll take care of it, the men, the beasts, the flowers,
the forests and the seasons with a thousand colors.

People, beasts and flowers, no, there aren’t any more,
living, we are the remaining ones and nothing more.

The land is all ours, Marcondiro'ndera
let's make it a big merry-go-round, Marcondiro'nderà.

We have all the land Marcondiro'ndera
let's play at making war, Marcondiro'nderà . . .

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy. In De André's own words, the album "speaks of death, not of bubble gum death with little bones, but of psychological death, moral death, mental death, that a normal person can encounter during his lifetime." After the success of Volume I, De André was provided for this next album a cutting edge recording studio complete with an 80-member orchestra, directed by Gian Piero Reverberi, and a children's chorus. The whole project was under the direction of Gian Piero's brother Gian Franco Reverberi. This album also met with commercial success, becoming the highest selling album in Italy in 1968. In 1969 a version of the album was made with De André re-recording the vocals in English. The album was not officially released.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Terzo intermezzo - Third Interlude

La polvere il sangue le mosche e l'odore
per strada fra i campi la gente che muore
e tu, tu la chiami guerra e non sai che cos'è
e tu, tu la chiami guerra e non ti spieghi perché.

L'autunno negli occhi l'estate nel cuore
la voglia di dare l'istinto di avere
e tu, tu lo chiami amore e non sai che cos'è
e tu, tu lo chiami amore e non ti spieghi perché.

Terzo intermezzo © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

Per De André's comments, "Third Interlude" speaks of love and war, which arise out of two separate human impulses, the desire to give and the instinct to have.

The dust, the blood, the flies, the smells
on the street, among the fields, the people who die . . .
and you, you call it war and don’t know what it is.
And you, you call it war and don’t explain to yourself why.

Autumn in the eyes, summer in the heart,
the desire to give, the instinct to have . . .
and you, you call it war and don’t know what it is.
And you, you call it war and don’t explain to yourself why.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy. In De André's own words, the album "speaks of death, not of bubble gum death with little bones, but of psychological death, moral death, mental death, that a normal person can encounter during his lifetime." After the success of Volume I, De André was provided for this next album a cutting edge recording studio complete with an 80-member orchestra, directed by Gian Piero Reverberi, and a children's chorus. The whole project was under the direction of Gian Piero's brother Gian Franco Reverberi. This album also met with commercial success, becoming the highest selling album in Italy in 1968. In 1969 a version of the album was made with De André re-recording the vocals in English. The album was not officially released.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tutti morimmo a stento:
   Recitativo (due invocazioni e un atto d'accusa)/
        Corale (leggenda del re infelice) -
   Recitative (Two Invocations and an Indictment)/
        Chorale (Legend of the Unhappy King)

Uomini senza fallo,
semidei che vivete in castelli inargentati
che di gloria toccaste gli apogei
noi che invochiam pietà siamo i drogati.

Dell'inumano varcando il confine
conoscemmo anzitempo la carogna
che ad ogni ambito sogno mette fine:
che la pietà non vi sia di vergogna.

     C'era un re
     che aveva
     due castelli
     uno d'argento
     uno d'oro
     ma per lui
     non il cuore
     di un amico
     mai un amore
     né felicità.

Banchieri, pizzicagnoli, notai,
coi ventri obesi e le mani sudate
coi cuori a forma di salvadanai
noi che invochiam pietà fummo traviate.

Navigammo su fragili vascelli
per affrontar del mondo la burrasca
ed avevamo gli occhi troppo belli:
che la pietà non vi rimanga in tasca.

Giudici eletti, uomini di legge
noi che danziam nei vostri sogni ancora
siamo l'umano desolato gregge
di chi morì con il nodo alla gola.

Quanti innocenti all'orrenda agonia
votaste decidendone la sorte
e quanto giusta pensate che sia
una sentenza che decreta morte?

     Un castello
     lo donò
     e cento e cento
     amici trovò
     l'altro poi
     gli portò
     mille amori
     ma non trovo
     la felicità.

Uomini cui pietà non convien sempre
male accettando il destino comune,
andate, nelle sere di novembre,
a spiar delle stelle al fioco lume,
la morte e il vento, in mezzo ai camposanti,
muover le tombe e metterle vicine
come fossero tessere giganti
di un domino che non avrà mai fine.

Uomini, poiché all'ultimo minuto
non vi assalga il rimorso ormai tardivo
per non aver pietà giammai avuto
e non diventi rantolo il respiro:
sappiate che la morte vi sorveglia
gioir nei prati o fra i muri di calce,
come crescere il gran guarda il villano
finché non sia maturo per la falce.

     Non cercare la felicità
     in tutti quelli a cui tu
     hai donato
     per avere un compenso
     ma solo in te
     nel tuo cuore
     se tu avrai donato
     solo per pietà
     per pietà
     per pietà...


Recitativo and Corale © 1968 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

In "Recitativo" and "Corale" De André makes the case that a merciful outlook should underpin all human affairs, as death waits patiently for each of us regardless of station in life.


Gian Piero Reverberi and Fabrizio De André in the studio



You men with no failings,
half gods who live in silvered castles,
who touched the heights of glory,
we who invoke mercy are the addicts.

Of the inhuman border crossing
we will know prematurely its carcass
that puts an end to every ambitious dream:
may mercy not be shameful for you all.

     There was a king
     who had
     two castles,
     one of silver,
     one of gold;
     but for him
     not the heart
     of a friend,
     never a love
     nor happiness.

Bankers, deli owners, accountants
with obese bellies and sweaty hands,
with hearts shaped like piggy banks,
we who invoke mercy were led astray.

We sail on fragile ships
to face the storm of the world
and we have eyes too beautiful:
may mercy not remain in your pockets.

Elected judges, men of law,
we who still dance in your dreams,
we are the bleak human herd
of those who died with a knot at the throat.

How many innocents to a horrible agony
did you vote through, determining their destiny?
And how right do you think it is that it’s
a sentence that decrees death?

     One castle
     he gave away
     and hundreds and hundreds
     of friends he found.
     The other then
     brought him
     a thousand lovers,
     but he didn't find
     happiness.

Men for whom mercy is not always suitable,
ill accepting the common destiny,
you go, in the evenings of November
in the dim light of the stars, to spy on
death and the wind, amidst the graveyards,
moving tombstones and placing them nearby
as if they were giant pieces
of a domino game that will never have an end.

You men, since at the last minute
remorse, by then belated, doesn’t assault you
for never having had mercy,
and the breath doesn’t become a death rattle:
know that death keeps a close eye on you,
rejoicing in the meadows or in between the lime walls
like a boorish peasant looks after the growing grain
while it’s not yet ripe for the scythe.

     Don’t search for happiness
     in all those to whom you
     have gifted
     in order to have a reward,
     but only in you,
     in your heart,
     if you might have given
     purely out of mercy,
     out of mercy,
     out of mercy . . .


English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Tutti morimmo a stento, released in 1968, was one of the first concept albums in Italy. In De André's own words, the album "speaks of death, not of bubble gum death with little bones, but of psychological death, moral death, mental death, that a normal person can encounter during his lifetime." After the success of Volume I, De André was provided for this next album a cutting edge recording studio complete with an 80-member orchestra, directed by Gian Piero Reverberi, and a children's chorus. The whole project was under the direction of Gian Piero's brother Gian Franco Reverberi. This album also met with commercial success, becoming the highest selling album in Italy in 1968. In 1969 a version of the album was made with De André re-recording the vocals in English. The album was not officially released.
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