Monday, February 10, 2014

Volume III:
   La canzone di Marinella - Marinella's Song

Questa di Marinella è la storia vera
che scivolò nel fiume a primavera
ma il vento che la vide così bella
dal fiume la portò sopra una stella

Sola senza il ricordo di un dolore
vivevi senza il sogno di un amore
ma un re senza corona e senza scorta
bussò tre volte un giorno alla tua porta

Bianco come la luna il suo cappello
come l'amore rosso il suo mantello
tu lo seguisti senza una ragione
come un ragazzo segue un aquilone

E c'era il sole e avevi gli occhi belli
lui ti baciò le labbra ed i capelli
c'era la luna e avevi gli occhi stanchi
lui pose le sue mani sui tuoi fianchi

Furono baci e furono sorrisi
poi furono soltanto i fiordalisi
che videro con gli occhi delle stelle
fremere al vento e ai baci la tua pelle

Dicono poi che mentre ritornavi
nel fiume chissà come scivolavi
e lui che non ti volle creder morta
bussò cent'anni ancora alla tua porta

Questa è la tua canzone Marinella
che sei volata in cielo su una stella
e come tutte le più belle cose
vivesti solo un giorno, come le rose

E come tutte le più belle cose
vivesti solo un giorno, come le rose

La canzone di Marinella © 1964 Fabrizio De André

"La canzone di Marinella" is perhaps the most famous of De André's songs, and when it was covered with great success by the Italian artist Mina in late 1967 it allowed De André to give up his day job and concentrate on songwriting. The song itself was based on the true story of a girl who became orphaned and then took to the streets to make money. She was murdered by a client. When he read the story, De André's impulse was to do something to help, in the only way he could - with a song, written as a way to change her death and to sweeten it somehow, given that we have no powers to change the events of someone's life.



This story of Marinella is the true story,
that she slipped into the river one spring.
But the wind that saw her so beautiful
carried her from the river onto a star.

Alone with no memory of sorrow,
you lived without the dream of a love.
But a king, without his crown and without escort,
knocked three times one day on your door.

White as the moon his hat,
and like the flush of love his cloak.
You followed him without any reason,
like a child chases after a kite.

And it was sunny and your eyes were beautiful,
he kissed your lips and your hair.
Then came the moon and your eyes were tired,
he placed his hands on your hips.

There were kisses and there were smiles,
then there were only fleurs-de-lis
that saw with the eyes of the stars
your skin trembling in the wind and the kisses.

They say then that while you were returning
you slipped into the river, who knows how?
And he, not wanting to believe you dead,
knocked a hundred years more at your door.

This is your song, Marinella,
that you flew to heaven on a star.
And like all of the most beautiful things,
you lived only one day, like the roses.

And like all the most beautiful things,
you lived only one day, like the roses.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Volume III:
   Il gorilla - The Gorilla (Georges Brassens)

Sulla piazza d'una città
la gente guardava con ammirazione
un gorilla portato là
dagli zingari di un baraccone
con poco senso del pudore
le comari di quel rione
contemplavano l’animale
non dico dove non dico come
attenti al gorilla!

d'improvviso la grossa gabbia
dove viveva l'animale
s'aprì di schianto non so perché
forse l'avevano chiusa male
la bestia uscendo fuori di là
disse: "quest'oggi me la levo"
parlava della verginità
di cui ancora viveva schiavo
attenti al gorilla!

il padrone si mise a urlare
"il mio gorilla, fate attenzione"
non ha veduto mai una scimmia
potrebbe fare confusione
tutti i presenti a questo punto
fuggirono in ogni direzione
anche le donne dimostrando
la differenza fra idea e azione
attenti al gorilla!

tutta la gente corre di fretta
di qua e di là con grande foga
si attardano solo una vecchietta
e un giovane giudice con la toga
visto che gli altri avevan squagliato
il quadrumane accelerò
e sulla vecchia e sul magistrato
con quattro salti si portò
attenti al gorilla!

"bah, sospirò pensando la vecchia,
ch'io fossi ancora desiderata
sarebbe cosa alquanto strana
e più che altro non sperata"
"che mi si prenda per una scimmia
pensava il giudice col fiato corto,
non è possibile, questo è sicuro"
il seguito prova che aveva torto
attenti al gorilla!

se qualcuno di voi dovesse
costretto con le spalle al muro,
violare un giudice od una vecchia
della sua scelta sarei sicuro
ma si dà il caso che il gorilla
considerato un grandioso fusto
da chi l'ha provato però non brilla
né per lo spirito né per il gusto
attenti al gorilla!

infatti lui, sdegnato la vecchia
si dirige sul magistrato
lo acchiappa forte per un'orecchia
e lo trascina in mezzo ad un prato
quello che avvenne fra l'erba alta
non posso dirlo per intero
ma lo spettacolo fu avvincente
e la "suspence" ci fu davvero
attenti al gorilla!

dirò soltanto che sul più bello
dello spiacevole e cupo dramma
piangeva il giudice come un vitello
negli intervalli gridava mamma
gridava mamma come quel tale
cui il giorno prima come ad un pollo
con una sentenza un po' originale
aveva fatto tagliare il collo.
attenti al gorilla!

Il gorilla © 1952 Georges Brassens, adaptation © 1968 Fabrizio De André

"Il gorilla" is a fairly faithful translation of one of Georges Brassens's most famous songs, "Le gorille" (1952). De André and Brassens shared a dislike of the powers-that-be in general, and the death penalty in particular.




On a city plaza
people were looking with admiration
at a gorilla brought there
by the gypsies of an amusement park.
With little sense of shame,
the neighbors of that district
contemplated the animal,
I’m not saying where or how.
Beware the gorilla!

All of a sudden the large cage
where the animal lived
burst open, I know not why,
perhaps they had closed it poorly.
The beast heading out of there
said, “Today I’ll take it off!”
He spoke of virginity,
to which he was still enslaved.
Beware the gorilla!

The owner began to shout
“My gorilla, watch out everyone!”
He’d never seen that an ape
could cause such confusion.
Everyone present at this point
fled in every direction,
even the women, demonstrating
the difference between idea and action.
Beware the gorilla!

All the people ran hurriedly
here and there with great determination.
Only a little old lady lingered behind,
and a young judge with robes.
Seeing that the others had melted away,
the four-handed ape sped up
and on the old lady and the magistrate
he descended with four leaps.
Beware the gorilla!

“Bah,” sighed the lady,
“that I could still be desirable
would be something rather strange
and, more than anything, unexpected.”
“That I am taken for an ape,”
thought the judge with a short breath,
“is impossible, this is certain.”
The following proves that he was wrong.
Beware the gorilla!

If some one of you had to,
forced with your back against the wall,
to violate a judge or a little old lady,
of your choice I would be certain.
But as it happens, the gorilla,
considered a grand hunk
by whosoever tried him, did not shine,
neither for his spirit nor for his taste.
Beware the gorilla!

In fact, scorning the old lady,
he set upon the magistrate.
He seized him firmly by one ear
and dragged him to the middle of a meadow.
That which transpired amidst the tall grass
I can’t tell you in its entirety,
but the spectacle was engrossing
and “suspense” was truly there.
Beware the gorilla!

I will say only that at the climax
of the unpleasant and gloomy drama
the judge wept like a calf,
and in the intervals cried “Mamma,”
cried “Mamma,” like that one who
the day before, as if he were a chicken,
with a sentence a bit unusual
he had ordered "Cut off his neck."
Beware the gorilla!

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Volume III:
   La ballata dell'eroe - Ballad of the Hero

Era partito per fare la guerra
per dare il suo aiuto alla sua terra
gli avevano dato le mostrine e le stelle
e il consiglio di vendere cara la pelle
e quando gli dissero di andare avanti
troppo lontano si spinse a cercare la verità
ora che è morto la patria si gloria
d'un altro eroe alla memoria

ma lei che lo amava aspettava il ritorno
d'un soldato vivo, d'un eroe morto che ne farà
se accanto nel letto le è rimasta la gloria
d'una medaglia alla memoria

La ballata dell'eroe © 1961 Fabrizio De André

"La ballata dell'eroe" was the B-side of the 45 released by Karim in 1961 that De André considers his first published work (the A-side was "La ballata del Michè"). With the Cold War raging between the US and the USSR, and in the context of the unfolding Berlin Crisis, this song was a simple yet powerful anti-war ballad. The song was re-recorded by Luigi Tenco in 1962 and appeared in the movie "La Cuccagna." The song was republished in 1964 as the B-side to "La guerra di Piero" and also reinterpreted and included on Volume III. Though not officially credited, according to the sheet music of the song the music was written by Elvio Monti, who worked for Karim as arranger and orchestra conductor and who collaborated on many of De André's songs released by that label.



He had gone off to fight in the war,
to give help to his country.
They had given him the patches and the stars
and the advice to fight to the bitter end.
And when they told him to move ahead,
too far he pushed on, searching for the truth.
Now that he’s dead, his fatherland boasts
of another hero added to its memory.

But she who loved him waited for the return
of a living soldier. What will she make of a dead hero
if beside her in bed she is left with the glory
of a commemorative medallion?

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Friday, February 7, 2014

Volume III:
   S'i' fosse foco - If I Were Fire

S'i' fosse foco arderei 'l mondo
s'i' fosse vento lo tempesterei
s'i' fosse acqua i' l'annegherei
s'i' fosse Dio manderei l'en profondo

S'i' fosse papa, sare' allor giocondo
tutti i cristïani imbrigherei
s'i' fosse 'mperator sa' che farei
a tutti mozzarei lo capo a tondo

S'i fosse morte, andarei da mio padre
s'i' fosse vita fuggirei da lui
similemente farìa da mi' madre
s'i' fosse Cecco com'i' sono e fui
torrei le donne giovani e leggiadre
e vecchie e laide lasserei altrui

S'i' fosse foco arderéi 'l mondo
s' i' fosse vento lo tempesterei
s'i' fosse acqua i' l'annegherei
s'i' fosse Dio manderei l'en profondo

S'i' fosse foco music © 1968 Fabrizio De André, 13th century sonnet
by Cecco Angiolieri


While De André took inspiration and drew from poetry, "S'i' fosse foco, arderei 'l mondo" is the only poem he ever set to music. The Siennese Cecco Angiolieri was a contemporary of Dante and this sonnet is well known in Italian literature. At the time, the dominant style was Dolce Stil Novo, which emphasized an introspective approach to female beauty and divine love. The "take no prisoners" invective of Angiolieri's poem shows clearly that he rejected the Sweet New Style that was associated with Dante, its main exponent.



If I were fire, I’d burn the world down.
If I were wind, I would batter it with storm.
If I were water, I would drown it.
If I were God, I’d cast it into the depths.

If I were Pope, I would be jolly,
I'd get all the Christians in trouble.
If I were Emperor, know what I'd do?
I'd chop heads off all around.

If I were death, I'd go to my father’s.
If I were life I would flee him,
as similarly would I do from my mother.
If I were Cecco, as I am and as I was,
I would take the young, graceful women
and leave the foul, older ones to others.

If I were fire, I’d burn the world down.
If I were wind, I would batter it with storm.
If I were water, I would drown it.
If I were God, I’d cast it into the depths.

English translation© 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Volume III:
   Amore che vieni, amore che vai -
   You, Love, Who Comes and Who Goes

Quei giorni perduti a rincorrere il vento
A chiederci un bacio e volerne altri cento
Un giorno qualunque li ricorderai
Amore che fuggi da me tornerai
Un giorno qualunque li ricorderai
Amore che fuggi da me tornerai

E tu che con gli occhi di un altro colore
Mi dici le stesse parole d'amore
Fra un mese fra un anno scordate le avrai
Amore che vieni da me fuggirai
Tra un mese tra un anno scordate le avrai
Amore che vieni da me fuggirai

Venuto dal sole o da spiagge gelate
Perduto in novembre o col vento d'estate
Io t'ho amato sempre non t'ho amato mai
Amore che vieni amore che vai
Io t'ho amato sempre non t'ho amato mai
Amore che vieni amore che vai

Amore che vieni, amore che vai © 1966 Fabrizio De André

"Amore che vieni, amore che vai" was the last song written by De André for the Karim label, and it was released in 1966 as side B to "Geordie." It treats a theme that appears regularly in De André's work, the mutability of love. The song is also featured in a 2008 movie of the same name, based on the novel Un destino ridicolo co-written by De André and Alessandro Gennari in 1996.


Those days long past of chasing the wind,
of asking each other for a kiss and wanting a hundred more,
one of these days you’ll remember them.
You, love who runs away, will come back to me.
One of these days you'll remember them.
You, love that flees, to me will return.

And you who with eyes of a different color
tell me the very same words of love,
in a month, in a year, you’ll have forgotten them.
Love who comes to me, from me you will flee.
In a month, in a year, you’ll have forgotten them.
Love who comes to me, from me you will flee.

Hailing from sunshine or from cold, cold shores,
lost in November or with a summer breeze,
I loved you always, I never loved you,
you, love, who comes and who goes.
I loved you always, I never loved you,
you, love, who comes, you, love, who goes.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Volume III:
   La guerra di Piero - Piero's War

Dormi sepolto in un campo di grano
non è la rosa non è il tulipano
che ti fan veglia dall'ombra dei fossi
ma son mille papaveri rossi

lungo le sponde del mio torrente
voglio che scendano i lucci argentati
non più i cadaveri dei soldati
portati in braccio dalla corrente

così dicevi ed era inverno
e come gli altri verso l'inferno
te ne vai triste come chi deve
il vento ti sputa in faccia la neve

fermati Piero , fermati adesso
lascia che il vento ti passi un po' addosso
dei morti in battaglia ti porti la voce
chi diede la vita ebbe in cambio una croce

ma tu no lo udisti e il tempo passava
con le stagioni a passo di giava
ed arrivasti a varcar la frontiera
in un bel giorno di primavera

e mentre marciavi con l'anima in spalle
vedesti un uomo in fondo alla valle
che aveva il tuo stesso identico umore
ma la divisa di un altro colore

sparagli Piero, sparagli ora
e dopo un colpo sparagli ancora
fino a che tu non lo vedrai esangue
cadere in terra a coprire il suo sangue

e se gli sparo in fronte o nel cuore
soltanto il tempo avrà per morire
ma il tempo a me resterà per vedere
vedere gli occhi di un uomo che muore

e mentre gli usi questa premura
quello si volta , ti vede e ha paura
ed imbracciata l'artiglieria
non ti ricambia la cortesia

cadesti in terra senza un lamento
e ti accorgesti in un solo momento
che il tempo non ti sarebbe bastato
a chiedere perdono per ogni peccato

cadesti interra senza un lamento
e ti accorgesti in un solo momento
che la tua vita finiva quel giorno
e non ci sarebbe stato un ritorno

Ninetta mia crepare di maggio
ci vuole tanto troppo coraggio
Ninetta bella dritto all'inferno
avrei preferito andarci in inverno

e mentre il grano ti stava a sentire
dentro alle mani stringevi un fucile
dentro alla bocca stringevi parole
troppo gelate per sciogliersi al sole

dormi sepolto in un campo di grano
non è la rosa non è il tulipano
che ti fan veglia dall'ombra dei fossi
ma sono mille papaveri rossi.

La guerra di Piero © 1964 Fabrizio De André

"La guerra di Piero" was the B-side of a single released in 1964, and it received little notice. However, in 1968 the song became an anthem to militant anti-war students in Italy and achieved the stature of Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." The song has its origins in stories told to De André by his uncle, who served in World War II in the Albanian campaign and spent almost two years at the Mannheim concentration camp as a prisoner of war. He never recovered from the wartime trauma, and his stories made an indelible impression on the young De André. Even though credited only to De André, the music of the song was co-written with guitarist Vittorio Centanaro. "La giava," translated as "square dance," was in fact a fast waltz popular in France after World War I, considered by some an indecent dance because it involved touching the hips of the girl (gasp!).



You sleep buried in a field of grain.
It’s not the rose, it's not the tulip
that stands vigil over you by the shadow of the trenches,
but a thousand red poppies.

Along the banks of my stream
I wish the silver pikes would swim past,
no more the cadavers of soldiers
carried in the arms of the current.

Thus you were saying, and it was winter.
And like the others, towards the inferno
you go, sad as one who must.
The wind spits snow in your face.

Stop Piero, stop now,
let the wind pass over you a bit,
bring to you the voice of the battle dead -
whoever gave his life had a cross in exchange.

But you didn’t hear it, and time passed
with the seasons at the pace of a square dance,
and you arrived to cross the frontier
on a beautiful day in spring.

And while marching, shouldering your spirit,
you saw a man down in the valley
with the very same mood as yours,
but the uniform of a different color.

Shoot him, Piero, shoot him now,
and afterwards fire a shot at him again
until you don’t see him, lifeless,
falling to the ground to cover his blood.

And if I shoot him in the forehead or in the heart,
he’ll only have time to die.
But time will remain for me to see,
to see the eyes of a man who is dying.

And while you give him this consideration,
he turns, he sees you and is afraid
and, his artillery raised and aimed,
he doesn't return the same courtesy to you.

You fell to the ground without a cry
and were aware in an instant
that there would not be enough time for you
to ask pardon for every sin.

You fell to the earth without a cry
and realized in an instant
that your life was ending that day,
and there would be no return.

My Ninetta, dying in May
takes way too much courage.
Beautiful Ninetta, straight to hell
I would have preferred to go in winter.

And while the grain stood to hear you,
in your hands you were gripping a rifle,
in your mouth you clenched words
too cold to melt in the sun.

You sleep buried in a field of grain.
It’s not the rose, it's not the tulip
that stands vigil over you by the shadow of the trenches,
but a thousand red poppies.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Volume III:
   Il testamento - The Will

Quando la morte mi chiamerà
forse qualcuno protesterà
dopo aver letto nel testamento
quel che gli lascio in eredità
non maleditemi non serve a niente
tanto all'inferno ci sarò già

ai protettori delle battone
lascio un impiego da ragioniere
perché provetti nel loro mestiere
rendano edotta la popolazione

ad ogni fine di settimana
sopra la rendita di una puttana
ad ogni fine di settimana
sopra la rendita di una puttana

voglio lasciare a Bianca Maria
che se ne frega della decenza
un attestato di benemerenza
che al matrimonio le spiani la via

con tanti auguri per chi c'è caduto
di conservarsi felice e cornuto
con tanti auguri per chi c'è caduto
di conservarsi felice e cornuto

sorella morte lasciami il tempo
di terminare il mio testamento
lasciami il tempo di salutare
di riverire di ringraziare
tutti gli artefici del girotondo
intorno al letto di un moribondo

signor becchino mi ascolti un poco
il suo lavoro a tutti non piace
non lo consideran tanto un bel gioco
coprir di terra chi riposa in pace

ed è per questo che io mi onoro
nel consegnarle la vanga d'oro
ed è per questo che io mi onoro
nel consegnarle la vanga d'oro

per quella candida vecchia contessa
che non si muove più dal mio letto
per estirparmi l'insana promessa
di riservarle i miei numeri al lotto

non vedo l'ora di andar fra i dannati
per rivelarglieli tutti sbagliati
non vedo l'ora di andar fra i dannati
per riferirglieli tutti sbagliati

quando la morte mi chiederà
di restituirle la libertà
forse una lacrima forse una sola
sulla mia tomba si spenderà
forse un sorriso forse uno solo
dal mio ricordo germoglierà

se dalla carne mia già corrosa
dove il mio cuore ha battuto il tempo
dovesse nascere un giorno una rosa
la do alla donna che mi offrì il suo pianto

per ogni palpito del suo cuore
le rendo un petalo rosso d'amore
per ogni palpito del suo cuore
le rendo un petalo rosso d'amore

a te che fosti la più contesa
la cortigiana che non si dà a tutti
ed ora all'angolo di quella chiesa
offri le immagini ai belli ed ai brutti

lascio le note di questa canzone
canto il dolore della tua illusione
a te che sei per tirare avanti
costretta a vendere Cristo e i santi

quando la morte mi chiamerà
nessuno al mondo si accorgerà
che un uomo è morto senza parlare
senza sapere la verità
che un uomo è morto senza pregare
fuggendo il peso della pietà

cari fratelli dell'altra sponda
cantammo in coro giù sulla terra
amammo in cento l'identica donna
partimmo in mille per la stessa guerra
questo ricordo non vi consoli
quando si muore si muore soli
questo ricordo non vi consoli
quando si muore si muore soli.

Il testamento © 1963 Fabrizio De André

"Il testamento" was the A-side of the fourth 45 released by Karim, in 1963. De André was no doubt familiar with similar type songs by the French singer/songwriters Georges Brassens ("Le testament," 1955) and Jacques Brel ("Le moribond," 1961), as well as with the 15th century French poet François Villon, whose poem "Le testament: Ballade des dames du temps jadis" was the inspiration for Brassens's song. While these works may have given De André the idea for the setup of the song - the last will of a dying man - the lyrics themselves are classic De André, filled with humor, making fun of the well-to-do and siding with the have-nots. (Translation note: "rendita" means income earned on capital, like interest from a savings account or bond, and the most accurate translation is "unearned income." That translation however might suggest that prostitutes don't have to work for a living. De André's intent here was more to put the (good) money that could be made by a prostitute on the same plain as the (easy) money made by the moneyed class on their capital, or to posit a social outsider like a prostitute being able to earn and save enough so as to be able to receive "unearned income," probably to the chagrin of mainstream owners of capital.)



When Death calls for me,
maybe someone will protest
after having read in the will
what inheritance I am leaving them.
Don’t curse me, it won’t do any good,
I’ll be so far into hell already.

To the pimps of the hookers
I leave an accountant's task
so that experts in their line of work
keep the populace informed

at the end of every week
about the capital gains of a whore,
at the end of every week
about the capital gains of a whore.

I wish to leave White Mary,
who doesn’t give a damn about decency,
a certificate of merit
that might pave the way to marriage,

with all good wishes to whoever fell for it
to keep themselves happy and betrayed,
with all good wishes to whoever fell for it
to keep themselves happy and betrayed.

Sister Death, leave me the time
to finalize my will,
leave me the time to say goodbye,
to pay my respects, to give thanks to
all the great masters of ring-around-the-rosie
‘round the bed of a dying man.

Mister gravedigger, listen to me a little.
Everyone dislikes your work,
they don’t consider it such a great joke
to cover with earth whoever rests in peace.

And for this reason I am proud
to award you the golden spade,
and for this reason I am proud
to award you the golden spade.

For that lily-white old countess
who moves no more from my bed,
so as to extract from me the insane promise
of reserving for her my lottery numbers,

I can’t wait to go among the damned
to reveal all the wrong ones to her,
I can’t wait to go among the damned
to reveal all the wrong ones to her.

When Death asks me
to give it back my freedom,
perhaps a tear, maybe just one,
on my tomb will be spent,
perhaps a smile, maybe just one,
from my remembrance will sprout.

If from my meat already eaten away,
where my heart beat out the time,
should one day be born a rose,
I give it to the woman who offered me her tears.

For every beat of her heart
I’ll render to her a red petal of love.
For every beat of her heart
I’ll render to her a red petal of love.

To you who were the most sought-after,
the courtesan who didn’t give it up to just anyone,
you who now, at the corner of that church,
offer likenesses to the beautiful and ugly alike,

I leave the notes of this song.
I sing the sadness of your illusion
to you who, to scrape by, are
compelled to sell Christ and the saints.

When Death calls me,
no one in the world will realize
that a man died without speaking,
without knowing the truth,
that a man died without praying,
fleeing the burden of piety.

Dear brothers of the other shore,
we sang in chorus down there on earth,
we loved in hundreds the same woman,
we departed in thousands for the same war.
This memory might not console you all -
when people die, they die alone.
This memory might not console you all -
when people die, they die alone.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
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Monday, February 3, 2014

Volume III:
   Nell'acqua della chiara fontana -
   In the Water of a Clear Spring (Georges Brassens)

Nell'acqua della chiara fontana
Lei tutta nuda si bagnava
Quando un soffio di tramontana
Le sue vesti in cielo portava

Dal folto dei capelli mi chiese
Per rivestirla di cercare
I rami di cento mimose
E ramo con ramo intrecciare

Volli coprire le sue spalle
Tutte di petali di rosa
Ma il suo seno era così minuto
Che fu sufficiente una rosa

Cercai ancora nella vigna
perchè a metà non fosse spoglia
ma i suoi fianchi eran così minuti
che fu sufficiente una foglia

Le braccia lei mi tese allora
Per ringraziarmi un po' stupita
Io la presi con tanto ardore
Che lei fu di nuovo svestita

Il gioco divertì la graziosa
Che molto spesso alla fontana
Torno' a bagnarsi pregando Dio
Per un soffio di tramontana

Nell'acqua della chiara fontana © 1961 Georges Brassens,
adaptation © 1968 Fabrizio De André


"Nell'acqua della chiara fontana" is a translation and adaptation of Georges Brassens's "Dans l'eau de la claire fontaine" (1962), another song that uses the medieval troubador song template seen in "Carlo Martello." At this time De André was still often presented in the press as a medievalist, hence the inclusion of "Nell'acqua," "S'i' fosse foco" and "Il re" on this album.





In the water of a clear spring
she was bathing all bare
when a breath of the north wind
carried her clothes off into the sky.

Through the thickness of her hair she asked me,
so as to dress herself again, to search
the branches of a hundred mimosas
and to weave branch with branch.

I wanted to cover her shoulders
completely with rose petals,
but her breast was so tiny
that just one rose was enough.

I searched yet more in the vineyard,
for halfway in it was no longer leafless,
but her hips were so tiny
that just one leaf was enough.

She held out her arms to me then
to thank me, a bit amazed.
I took her with such ardor
that she again was undressed.

The game amused the young lovely,
who over and over to the fountain
returned to wash herself, praying to God
for a breath of north wind.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Volume III:
   La ballata del Michè - The Ballad of Mike

Quando hanno aperto la cella
era già tardi perché
con una corda al collo
freddo pendeva Michè

Tutte le volte che un gallo
sento cantar penserò
a quella notte in prigione
quando Michè s'impiccò

Stanotte Michè
s'è impiccato a un chiodo perché
non poteva restare vent'anni in prigione
lontano da te

Nel buio Michè se n'è andato sapendo che a te
non poteva mai dire che aveva ammazzato
perchè amava te

Io so che Michè
ha voluto morire perché
ti restasse il ricordo del bene profondo
che aveva per te

Vent'anni gli avevano dato
la corte decise così
perché un giorno aveva ammazzato
chi voleva rubargli Marì

L'avevan perciò condannato
vent'anni in prigione a marcir
però adesso che lui s'è impiccato
la porta gli devono aprir

Se pure Michè
non ti ha scritto spiegando perché
se n'è andato dal mondo tu sai che l' ha fatto
soltanto per te

Domani alle tre
nella fossa comune sarà
senza il prete e la messa perché d'un suicida
non hanno pietà

Domani alle tre
nella terra bagnata sarà
e qualcuno una croce col nome la data
su lui pianterà

E qualcuno una croce col nome e la data
su lui pianterà.

La ballata del Michè © 1961 Fabrizio De André and Clielia Petracchi

"La ballata del Michè," released in 1961, was the first song De André claimed as his own (the first two De André songs released by Karim he wrote off as "abortions" and "sins of youth"). He often said that the success of the song was enough to prevent him from giving up on his songwriting career and instead becoming a criminal lawyer. The song was inspired by an actual news event, and includes a number of elements common to De André songs: a tolerance, understanding and respect of the common man and his circumstances, along with a critique of both the law and the church for certain of their hard-line and merciless principles.



When they opened the cell
it was already late because
with a cord ‘round his neck
there hung Mike, all cold.

Every time I hear a rooster
crowing, I’ll think
of that night in prison
when Mike hanged himself.

Tonight Mike
hanged himself from a nail because
he couldn't remain twenty years in prison
far away from you.

In the darkness Mike went off knowing
he could never tell you that he had murdered
because he loved you.

I know that Mike
wanted to die so that
the memory of the deep feeling he had for you
would remain behind with you.

Twenty years they had given him.
The court decided it so
because one day he’d killed
someone who wanted to steal his Marie.

They had him condemned therefore,
twenty years in prison to rot away.
But now that he hanged himself
they have to open the door for him.

Even if Mike
didn’t write you explaining why
he left this world, you know that he did it
only for you.

Tomorrow at three o’clock
he'll fall into the common grave,
without a priest and the mass, because for a suicide
they have no pity.

Tomorrow at three o'clock
he'll be in the wet ground
and someone will plant a cross over him
with the name and the date.

And someone will plant a cross over him
with the name and the date.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Volume III:
   Il re fa rullare i tamburi -
   The King Makes the Drums Roll

Il re fa rullare i tamburi
Il re fa rullare i tamburi
vuol sceglier fra le dame
un nuovo e fresco amore
ed è la prima che ha veduto
che gli ha rapito il cuore

"Marchese la conosci tu
marchese la conosci tu
chi è quella graziosa?"
Ed il marchese disse al re
"Maestà è la mia sposa"

"Tu sei più felice di me
tu sei più felice di me
d'aver dama sì bella
signora sì compita
se tu vorrai cederla a me
sarà la favorita"

"Signore se non foste il re
signore se non foste il re
v'intimerei prudenza
ma siete il sire siete il re
vi devo l'obbedienza"

"Marchese vedrai passerà
marchese vedrai passerà
d'amor la sofferenza
io ti farò nelle mie armate
maresciallo di Francia"

"Addio per sempre mia gioia
addio per sempre mia bella
addio dolce amore
devi lasciarmi per il re
ed io ti lascio il cuore"

La regina ha raccolto dei fiori
la regina ha raccolto dei fiori
celando la sua offesa
ed il profumo di quei fiori
ha ucciso la marchesa

Il re fa rullare i tamburi © 1968 Fabrizio De André,
based on a 14th century French ballad


"Il re fa rullare i tamburi" was based on a 14th century French ballad "Le proclame du Roy." Here we see De André in his medievalist mode at work again.


The king makes the drums roll,
the king makes the drums roll.
He wants to choose from among the ladies
a new and fresh love,
and it’s the first one that he saw
that ravished his heart.

“Marquis, do you know her,
Marquis, do you know her,
who is that young lovely?"
And the Marquis told the King,
“Your majesty, it’s my wife.”

“You are happier than I am,
you’re happier than me,
to have a dame so beautiful,
a woman so courteous.
If you would concede her to me
she would be my favorite.”

“Sir if you were not the King,
Sir if you were not the King,
I would bid you take caution.
But you are the Sire, you are the King,
I do owe you obedience.”

“Marquis, you'll see, it will pass,
Marquis you'll see, it will pass,
the pain of love.
I will make you in my armies
Marshall of France.”

“Goodbye forever my joy,
goodbye forever my beauteous one.
Farewell sweet love,
you must leave me for the King
and my heart I do leave to you.”

The Queen gathered some flowers.
The Queen gathered some flowers,
concealing her humiliation,
and the smell of those flowers
killed the Marquis's wife.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List