Tuesday, March 11, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Laudate Dominum

Laudate Dominum
Laudate Dominum

Laudate Dominum © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

The album begins with a brief Latin prayer, as if in a church service.





Third edition
Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition


La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.

Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Monday, March 10, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   L'infanzia di Maria - The Childhood of Maria

Voce:
Forse fu all'ora terza forse alla nona
cucito qualche giglio sul vestitino alla buona
forse fu per bisogno o peggio per buon esempio
presero i tuoi tre anni e li portarono al tempio
presero i tuoi tre anni e li portarono al tempio.

Non fu più il seno di Anna fra le mura discrete
a consolare il pianto a calmarti la sete
dicono fosse un angelo a raccontarti le ore
a misurarti il tempo fra cibo e Signore
a misurarti il tempo fra cibo e Signore.

Coro:
Scioglie la neve al sole ritorna l'acqua al mare
il vento e la stagione ritornano a giocare
ma non per te bambina che nel tempio resti china
ma non per te bambina che nel tempio resti china.

Voce:
E quando i sacerdoti ti rifiutarono alloggio
avevi dodici anni e nessuna colpa addosso
ma per i sacerdoti fu colpa il tuo maggio
la tua verginità che si tingeva di rosso
la tua verginità che si tingeva di rosso.

E si vuol dar marito a chi non lo voleva
si batte la campagna si fruga la via
popolo senza moglie uomini d'ogni leva
del corpo d'una vergine si fa lotteria
del corpo d'una vergine si fa lotteria.

Coro:
Sciogli i capelli e guarda già vengono...
Guardala guardala scioglie i capelli
sono più lunghi dei nostri mantelli
guarda la pelle viene la nebbia
risplende il sole come la neve
guarda le mani guardale il viso
sembra venuta dal paradiso
guarda le forme la proporzione
sembra venuta per tentazione.

Guardala guardala scioglie i capelli
sono più lunghi dei nostri mantelli
guarda le mani guardale il viso
sembra venuta dal paradiso
guardale gli occhi guarda i capelli
guarda le mani guardale il collo
guarda la carne guarda il suo viso
guarda i capelli del paradiso
guarda la carne guardale il collo
sembra venuta dal suo sorriso
guardale gli occhi guarda la neve
guarda la carne del paradiso.

Voce:
E fosti tu Giuseppe un reduce del passato
falegname per forza padre per professione
a vederti assegnata da un destino sgarbato
una figlia di più senza alcuna ragione
una bimba su cui non avevi intenzione.

E mentre te ne vai stanco d'essere stanco
la bambina per mano la tristezza di fianco
pensi "Quei sacerdoti la diedero in sposa
a dita troppo secche per chiudersi su una rosa
a un cuore troppo vecchio che ormai si riposa".

Secondo l'ordine ricevuto
Giuseppe portò la bambina nella propria casa
e subito se ne partì per dei lavori
che lo attendevano fuori dalla Giudea.
Rimase lontano quattro anni.

L'infanzia di Maria © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

"L'infanzia di Maria" tells of the young childhood of Maria as recounted in the most famous of the apocrypha, the Gospel of James.



Presentazione di Maria al tempio (1433-34)
by Paolo Uccello, at the Cappella dell'Assunta -
Basilica Cattedrale di Santo Stefano - Prato


Voice:
Perhaps 'twas at morning prayers or maybe afternoon,
some lilies sewn on the plain little dress,
maybe due to poverty, or worse, as a good example,
they took your three years and carried them to the temple,
they took your three years and carried them to the temple.

No more Anna's breast between the discrete walls
to console the crying, to quench your thirst.
They say 'twas an angel that recounted prayers to you,
that measured for you the time between food and the Lord,
that measured for you the time between food and the Lord.

Chorus:
The snow melts in the sun and the water returns to the sea,
the wind and the season return to play,
but not for you child, who stays in the temple, head bowed,
but not for you child, who stays in the temple, head bowed.

Voice:
And when the clergymen refused you lodging
you were twelve years old without a sin upon you.
But for the priests your May was a sin,
your virginity that was tinged with red,
your virginity that was tinged with red.

And they wanted to give a husband to one who didn’t want it, they scoured the countryside, they searched the streets.
A people without a wife, men of every generation,
one plays the lottery for the body of a virgin,
one plays the lottery for the body of a virgin.

Chorus:
Let down your hair and look, already they come
"Look at her, look at her, she lets down her hair,
it’s longer than our capes.
Look at the skin, here comes the fog,
the sun shines like the snow.
Look at the hands, look at her face,
she seems to have come from paradise.
Look at the form, the proportion,
she seems to have come for temptation.

"Look at her, look at her, she lets down her hair,
it’s longer than our capes.
Look at her hands, look at her face,
she seems to have come from paradise.
Look at her eyes, look at her hair,
look at her hands, look at her neck,
look at her flesh, look at her face,
look at the hair of paradise,
look at her flesh, look at her neck,
it seems to have come from her smile.
Look at her eyes, look at the snow,
look at the flesh of paradise."

Voice
And you, Joseph, were a survivor of the past,
carpenter by necessity, father by profession,
to see you assigned by an unkind destiny
one more daughter without any reason,
a little girl for whom you had no intention.

And while you walked, tired of being tired,
holding the girl by the hand, with sadness at your side,
you think, “These priests gave her in marriage
to fingers too dry to close themselves on a rose,
to a heart too old that by now is resting."

According to the order received,
Joseph brought the girl to his own house
and immediately departed for some jobs
that awaited him outside of Judaea.
He stayed away four years.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition
Third edition


La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. At left is a painting by Raphael of the young Maria entering the temple. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Sunday, March 9, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Il ritorno di Giuseppe - The Return of Joseph

Stelle, già dal tramonto,
si contendono il cielo a frotte,
luci meticolose
nell'insegnarti la notte.

Un asino dai passi uguali,
compagno del tuo ritorno,
scandisce la distanza
lungo il morire del giorno.

Ai tuoi occhi, il deserto,
una distesa di segatura,
minuscoli frammenti
della fatica della natura.

Gli uomini della sabbia
hanno profili d’assassini,
rinchiusi nei silenzi
d'una prigione senza confini.

Odore di Gerusalemme,
la tua mano accarezza il disegno
d'una bambola magra,
intagliata nel legno.

"La vestirai, Maria,
ritornerai a quei giochi
lasciati quando i tuoi anni
erano così pochi."

E lei volò fra le tue braccia
come una rondine,
e le sue dita come lacrime,
dal tuo ciglio alla gola,
suggerivano al viso,
una volta ignorato,
la tenerezza d'un sorriso,
un affetto quasi implorato.

E lo stupore nei tuoi occhi
salì dalle tue mani
che vuote intorno alle sue spalle,
si colmarono ai fianchi
della forma precisa
d'una vita recente,
di quel segreto che si svela
quando lievita il ventre.

E a te, che cercavi il motivo
d'un inganno inespresso dal volto,
lei propose l'inquieto ricordo
fra i resti d'un sogno raccolto.

Il ritorno di Giuseppe © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

In "Il ritorno di Giuseppe," De André gives more weight to Joseph's journey home than is found in the apocrypha, and he softens the drama found therein upon Joseph's discovery that Maria is pregnant.






Stars, right from sunset,
compete for the sky in flocks,
lights precise
in teaching you the night.

A donkey by equal steps,
companion of your return,
scans the distance
along the dying of the day.

To your eyes, the desert,
an expanse of sawdust,
minuscule fragments
of nature's toil.

The men of the sand
have the profile of assassins,
enclosed in the silences
of a prison with no boundaries.

Smell of Jerusalem,
your hand caresses the design
of a slender doll,
carved out of wood.

“You’ll dress her, Maria,
you’ll return to those games
left behind when your years
were so very few.”

And she flew into your arms
like a swallow,
and her fingers like tears,
from your eyelashes to your throat,
suggested to your face,
once ignored,
the tenderness of a smile,
a feeling almost pleading.

And the amazement in your eyes
rose up from your hands
that, empty around her shoulders,
filled themselves by her sides
with the precise form
of a new life,
of that secret that reveals itself
when the belly rises.

And to you, who searched for the motive
of a deception unexpressed by her face,
she proposed the uneasy memory
amidst the ruins of a rapt dream.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition
Third edition

La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Saturday, March 8, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Il sogno di Maria - Maria's Dream

"Nel Grembo umido, scuro del tempio,
l'ombra era fredda, gonfia d'incenso;
l'angelo scese, come ogni sera,
ad insegnarmi una nuova preghiera:
poi, d'improvviso, mi sciolse le mani
e le mie braccia divennero ali,
quando mi chiese - Conosci l'estate
io, per un giorno, per un momento,
corsi a vedere il colore del vento.

Volammo davvero sopra le case,
oltre i cancelli, gli orti, le strade,
poi scivolammo tra valli fiorite
dove all'ulivo si abbraccia la vite.

Scendemmo là, dove il giorno si perde
a cercarsi da solo nascosto tra il verde,
e lui parlò come quando si prega,
ed alla fine d'ogni preghiera
contava una vertebra della mia schiena.

Le ombre lunghe dei sacerdoti
costrinsero il sogno in un cerchio di voci.
Con le ali di prima pensai di scappare
ma il braccio era nudo e non seppe volare:
poi vidi l'angelo mutarsi in cometa
e i volti severi divennero pietra,
le loro braccia profili di rami,
nei gesti immobili d'un altra vita,
foglie le mani, spine le dita.

Voci di strada, rumori di gente,
mi rubarono al sogno per ridarmi al presente.
Sbiadì l'immagine, stinse il colore,
ma l'eco lontana di brevi parole
ripeteva d'un angelo la strana preghiera
dove forse era sogno ma sonno non era

- Lo chiameranno figlio di Dio -
Parole confuse nella mia mente,
svanite in un sogno, ma impresse nel ventre."

E la parola ormai sfinita
si sciolse in pianto,
ma la paura dalle labbra
si raccolse negli occhi
semichiusi nel gesto
d'una quiete apparente
che si consuma nell'attesa
d'uno sguardo indulgente.

E tu, piano, posasti le dita
all'orlo della sua fronte:
i vecchi quando accarezzano
hanno il timore di far troppo forte.

Il sogno di Maria © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

"Il sogno di Maria" is De André's poetic rendering of the Immaculate Conception, in which Maria explains her situation to Joseph.


Anne Francois Louis Janmot (1814-1892) – Il volo dell’anima

“In the damp, dark womb of the temple
the shadow was cold, swelling with incense.
The angel came down, like every evening,
to teach me a new prayer:
then, all of a sudden, he opened my hands
and my arms became wings.
When he asked me, 'Do you know the summer?',
I, for one day, for one moment,
ran to see the color of the wind.

"We flew for real over the houses,
beyond the gates, the gardens, the roads,
then we slipped between flowered valleys
where the vine embraces the grape.

"We came down there, where the day gets lost
searching alone, hidden amidst the green,
and he talked as when one prays,
and at the end of each prayer
he counted one vertebra on my back."

"The long shadows of the priests
confined the dream in a circle of voices.
With wings, at first, I thought to escape,
but my arm was bare and I knew not how to fly.
Then I saw the angel change into a comet
and the severe faces became stone,
their arms outlines of branches
in unmoving gestures of another life,
their hands, leaves, their fingers, thorns.

"Voices on the street, people noises,
stole me from the dream to restore me to the present.
The image receded, the color faded,
but the distant echo of brief words
repeated the strange prayer of an angel
where maybe there was dream, but sleep there was not.

"'They called him son of God' -
jumbled words in my mind,
vanished in a dream, but stuck in the belly.”

And the word, by then exhausted,
dissolved in tears.
But fear from the lips
gathered in the eyes,
semi-closed in the gesture
of an outward stillness
that consumes itself pending
a forgiving gaze.

And you gently placed your fingers
at the edge of her forehead:
the elderly, when they caress,
have the fear of doing so too roughly.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition
Third edition


La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Friday, March 7, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Ave Maria

E te ne vai, Maria, fra l'altra gente
che si raccoglie intorno al tuo passare,
siepe di sguardi che non fanno male
nella stagione di essere madre.

Sai che fra un'ora forse piangerai
poi la tua mano nasconderà un sorriso:
gioia e dolore hanno il confine incerto
nella stagione che illumina il viso.

Ave Maria, adesso che sei donna,
ave alle donne come te, Maria,
femmine un giorno per un nuovo amore
povero o ricco, umile o Messia.

Femmine un giorno e poi madri per sempre
nella stagione che stagioni non sente.

Ave Maria © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

"Ave Maria" is a paean to motherhood, with no particular references to the apocrypha.



Third edition
And you go out, Mary, amongst the other people
who gather themselves around your passing.
You knew by their gazes that they do no harm
in the season of being a mother.

You know that within an hour, perhaps you will cry,
then your hand will hide a smile:
joy and pain have an uncertain boundary
in the season that lights up your face.

Hail, Mary, now that you're a woman.
Hail to the women like you, Mary,
feminine one day from a new love,
rich or poor, humble or Messiah.

Feminine one day and then mothers forever
in the season that seasons don’t know.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition


La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Thursday, March 6, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Maria nella bottega d'un falegname -
   Maria in the Carpenter's Workshop

Maria:
"Falegname col martello
perché fai den den?
Con la pialla su quel legno
perché fai fren fren?
Costruisci le stampelle
per chi in guerra andò?
Dalla Nubia sulle mani
a casa ritornò?"

Il falegname:
"Mio martello non colpisce,
pialla mia non taglia
per foggiare gambe nuove
a chi le offrì in battaglia,
ma tre croci, due per chi
disertò per rubare,
la più grande per chi guerra
insegnò a disertare".

La gente:
"Alle tempie addormentate
di questa città
pulsa il cuore di un martello,
quando smetterà?
Falegname, su quel legno,
quanti corpi ormai,
quanto ancora con la pialla
lo assottiglierai?"

Maria:
"Alle piaghe, alle ferite
che sul legno fai,
falegname su quei tagli
manca il sangue, ormai,
perché spieghino da soli,
con le loro voci,
quali volti sbiancheranno
sopra le tue croci".

Il falegname:
"Questi ceppi che han portato
perché il mio sudore
li trasformi nell'immagine
di tre dolori,
vedran lacrime di Dimaco
e di Tito al ciglio
il più grande che tu guardi
abbraccerà tuo figlio".

La gente:
"Dalla strada alla montagna
sale il tuo den den
ogni valle di Giordania
impara il tuo fren fren;
qualche gruppo di dolore
muove il passo inquieto,
altri aspettan di far bere
a quelle seti aceto".

Maria nella bottega d'un falegname © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

With "Maria nella bottega d'un falegname," De André jumps forward from the time of Christ's birth to his upcoming death on the cross.



In 1979 and 1980, De André combined forces with Italy's premier progressive rock band PFM. Their highly successful tour resulted in two live albums and some interesting rearrangements of De André's songs.

Third edition
Mary:
“Carpenter with your hammer,
why do you go ‘den den’?
With the plane on that wood,
why do you go ‘fren fren’?
Are you building crutches
for someone who went to war,
who from Nubia, on their hands
returned home?”

The carpenter:
“My hammer doesn’t strike,
my plane doesn’t cut
to mold new legs
and offer them to someone in battle,
but three crosses, two for those who
deserted to steal,
the largest for one who
taught to desert from war.”

The people:
“At the sleeping temples
of this city
pulses the heart of a hammer.
When will it stop?
Carpenter, on that wood,
how many hits already?
How much more with the plane
will you thin and refine it?”

Mary:
“At the sores, at the wounds
you make on the wood,
carpenter, on those cuts
the blood is missing, now,
so they explain on their own
with their voices
which faces will go white
upon your crosses.”

The carpenter:
“These blocks that they brought
so my sweat
might transform them in the image
of three sufferings,
they will see tears of Dimaco
and of Tito at the eye’s edge.
The biggest one you're looking at
will embrace your son.”

The people:
“From the streets to the mountains
rises up your ‘den den,'
every valley of Jordan
learns your ‘fren fren’;
some groups of suffering
take the uneasy step,
others wait to force
those thirsty ones to drink vinegar.”

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition


La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.

Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Via della Croce - Way of the Cross

Poterti smembrare coi denti e le mani,
sapere i tuoi occhi bevuti dai cani,
di morire in croce puoi essere grato
a un brav'uomo di nome Pilato.

Ben più della morte che oggi ti vuole
t'uccide il veleno di queste parole,
le voci dei padri di quei neonati,
da Erode, per te trucidati.

Nel lugubre scherno degli abiti nuovi
misurano a gocce il dolore che provi.
Trent'anni hanno atteso, col fegato in mano,
i rantoli d'un ciarlatano.

Si muovono curve, le vedove in testa,
per loro non è un pomeriggio di festa;
si serran le vesti sugli occhi e sul cuore
ma filtra dai veli il dolore:

fedeli umiliate da un credo inumano
che le volle schiave già prima di Abramo,
con riconoscenza ora soffron la pena
di chi perdonò a Maddalena,

di chi con un gesto soltanto fraterno
una nuova indulgenza insegnò al padreterno,
e guardano in alto, trafitti dal sole,
gli spasimi d'un redentore.

Confusi alla folla ti seguono muti,
sgomenti, al pensiero che tu li saluti:
A redimere il mondo, gli serve pensare,
il tuo sangue può certo bastare.

La semineranno per mare e per terra
tra boschi e città la tua buona novella,
ma questo domani, con fede migliore,
stasera è più forte il terrore.

Nessuno di loro ti grida un addio
per essere scoperto cugino di Dio:
gli apostoli han chiuso le gole alla voce,
fratello che sanguini in croce.

Han volti distesi, già inclini al perdono,
ormai che han veduto il tuo sangue di uomo
fregiarti le membra di rivoli viola,
incapace di nuocere ancora.

Il potere, vestito d'umana sembianza,
ormai ti considera morto abbastanza
e già volge lo sguardo a spiar le intenzioni
degli umili, degli straccioni.

Ma gli occhi dei poveri piangono altrove,
non sono venuti a esibire un dolore
che alla via della croce ha proibito l'ingresso
a chi ti ama come se stesso.

Son pallidi al volto, scavati al torace,
non hanno la faccia di chi si compiace
dei gesti che ormai ti propone il dolore
eppure hanno un posto d'onore.

Non hanno negli occhi scintille di pena,
non sono stupiti a vederti la schiena
piegata dal legno che a stento trascini,
eppure ti stanno vicini.

Perdonali se non ti lasciano solo,
se sanno morire sulla croce anche loro,
a piangerli sotto non han che le madri,
in fondo, son solo due ladri.

Via della Croce © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

The Way of the Cross refers to the Stations of the Cross, the artistic representations in Roman Catholic churches depicting Christ carrying his cross to his crucifixion. "Via della Croce" is De Andrè's description of the Procession to Calvary.




An 1894 print by Jean Béraud

Third edition
Being able to dismember you with teeth and hands,
knowing your eyes drunk by the dogs,
for dying on the cross you can be grateful
to a good man by the name of Pilate.

Even more than the death that wants you today
the poison of these words kills you,
the voices of the fathers of those newborns
slaughtered by Herod for you.

In the funereal mockery of the new clothes
they measure in drops the suffering you experienced.
Thirty years they waited, with the liver in hand,
for the last gasps of a charlatan.

They move, heads turned down, the widows in the lead,
for them it's no afternoon party;
the robes bunch tight over the eyes and the heart,
but sorrow filters out from the veils:

humble followers from an inhumane belief
that wanted them slaves already before Abraham,
with gratitude now they suffer the pain
of the one who pardoned Magdalena,

of the one who, with a gesture merely fraternal,
taught a new forgiveness to the eternal Father.
And they look up, pierced by the sun,
at the spasms of a redeemer.

Confused in the crowd they follow you, mute,
anguished at the thought that you salute them:
to redeem the world, they need to think,
your blood will certainly suffice.

They’ll sow the seeds by land and by sea
among the forests and the cities of your Gospel.
But this future, with the best faith . . .
tonight the terror is stronger.

Not one of them shouted to you a farewell
for being discovered a cousin of God:
the apostles closed their throats to their voices,
brother who bleeds on the cross.

They have relaxed faces, already prone to pardon,
now that they've seen your human blood
adorning your members in trickles of purple,
unable to do any more harm.

The power, dressed in human semblance,
by now considers you dead enough
and already looks toward descrying the intentions
of the humble, of the beggars.

But the eyes of the poor ones cry elsewhere.
They didn’t come to display a sorrow
that prohibited entrance to the way of the cross
to anyone who loved you as himself.

They are pale in the face, with sunken chest.
They don’t have the look of someone pleased
with the gestures that suffering now proposes for you,
yet still they have a place of honor.

There’s not a hint of pain in their eyes,
they’re not surprised to see your back
turned from the wood that you can barely drag,
yet they stay near to you.

Pardon them if they don’t leave you alone,
if they too know how to die on the cross.
To mourn them below they have none but their mothers.
After all, they're only two thieves.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition


La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.
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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Tre madri - Three Mothers

Madre di Tito:
"Tito, non sei figlio di Dio,
ma c'è chi muore nel dirti addio".

Madre di Dimaco:
"Dimaco, ignori chi fu tuo padre,
ma più di te muore tua madre".

Le due madri:
"Con troppe lacrime piangi, Maria,
solo l'immagine d'un'agonia:
sai che alla vita, nel terzo giorno,
il figlio tuo farà ritorno:
lascia noi piangere, un po' più forte,
chi non risorgerà più dalla morte".

Madre di Gesù:
"Piango di lui ciò che mi è tolto,
le braccia magre, la fronte, il volto,
ogni sua vita che vive ancora,
che vedo spegnersi ora per ora.

Figlio nel sangue, figlio nel cuore,
e chi ti chiama - Nostro Signore -,
nella fatica del tuo sorriso
cerca un ritaglio di Paradiso.

Per me sei figlio, vita morente,
ti portò cieco questo mio ventre,
come nel grembo, e adesso in croce,
ti chiama amore questa mia voce.

Non fossi stato figlio di Dio
t'avrei ancora per figlio mio".

Tre madri © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

Compared to the Canonical texts of the Bible, the apocrypha depict more of the human side of the story of Christ's life and less of his preaching. In "Tre madri," perhaps the emotional core of the album, De André focuses on the very human pain of three mothers watching their sons die.



Third edition
Mother of Tito:
“Tito, you’re no son of God,
but there's one who is dying in bidding you farewell.”
Mother of Dimaco:
“Dimaco, ignore him who was your father,
but, more than you, your mother is dying.”

The two mothers:
“Too many tears you shed, Mary,
for just the image of an agony -
you know that to life, on the third day,
your son will make a return.
Leave us to cry, a bit more loudly,
for the ones who won’t revive from death.”

Mother of Jesus:
“I weep for him who is taken from me,
the slender arms, the forehead, the face,
every one of his lives that still lives,
that I see slipping away hour by hour.

"Son by blood, son in spirit,
and whoever calls out to you 'Our Lord,'
in the struggle of your smile
is searching for a scrap of Paradise.

"For me you are son, dying life,
this belly of mine carried you blind.
As in the womb, and now on the cross,
this voice of mine calls you love.

"If you hadn’t been the son of God
I would have you still for my child."

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition


La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Monday, March 3, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Il testamento di Tito - Tito's Will

Tito:
"Non avrai altro Dio all'infuori di me,
spesso mi ha fatto pensare:
genti diverse venute dall'est
dicevan che in fondo era uguale.

Credevano a un altro diverso da te
e non mi hanno fatto del male.
Credevano a un altro diverso da te
e non mi hanno fatto del male.

Non nominare il nome di Dio,
non nominarlo invano.
Con un coltello piantato nel fianco
gridai la mia pena e il suo nome:

ma forse era stanco, forse troppo occupato,
e non ascoltò il mio dolore.
Ma forse era stanco, forse troppo lontano,
davvero lo nominai invano.

Onora il padre, onora la madre
e onora anche il loro bastone,
bacia la mano che ruppe il tuo naso
perché le chiedevi un boccone:

quando a mio padre si fermò il cuore
non ho provato dolore.
Quando a mio padre si fermò il cuore
non ho provato dolore.

Ricorda di santificare le feste.
Facile per noi ladroni
entrare nei templi che rigurgitan salmi
di schiavi e dei loro padroni

senza finire legati agli altari
sgozzati come animali.
Senza finire legati agli altari
sgozzati come animali.

Il quinto dice non devi rubare
e forse io l'ho rispettato
vuotando, in silenzio, le tasche già gonfie
di quelli che avevan rubato:

ma io, senza legge, rubai in nome mio,
quegli altri nel nome di Dio.
Ma io, senza legge, rubai in nome mio,
quegli altri nel nome di Dio.

Non commettere atti che non siano puri
cioè non disperdere il seme.
Feconda una donna ogni volta che l'ami
così sarai uomo di fede:

Poi la voglia svanisce e il figlio rimane
e tanti ne uccide la fame.
Io, forse, ho confuso il piacere e l'amore:
ma non ho creato dolore.

Il settimo dice non ammazzare
se del cielo vuoi essere degno.
Guardatela oggi, questa legge di Dio,
tre volte inchiodata nel legno:

guardate la fine di quel nazzareno
e un ladro non muore di meno.
Guardate la fine di quel nazzareno
e un ladro non muore di meno.

Non dire falsa testimonianza
e aiutali a uccidere un uomo.
Lo sanno a memoria il diritto divino,
e scordano sempre il perdono:

ho spergiurato su Dio e sul mio onore
e no, non ne provo dolore.
Ho spergiurato su Dio e sul mio onore
e no, non ne provo dolore.

Non desiderare la roba degli altri
non desiderarne la sposa.
Ditelo a quelli, chiedetelo ai pochi
che hanno una donna e qualcosa:

nei letti degli altri già caldi d'amore
non ho provato dolore.
L'invidia di ieri non è già finita:
stasera vi invidio la vita.

Ma adesso che viene la sera ed il buio
mi toglie il dolore dagli occhi
e scivola il sole al di là delle dune
a violentare altre notti:

io nel vedere quest'uomo che muore,
madre, io provo dolore.
Nella pietà che non cede al rancore,
madre, ho imparato l'amore".

Il testamento di Tito © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Corrado Castellari

"Il testamento di Tito" takes us into the Old Testament to the Ten Commandments. Tito, the so-called good thief from the Syriac Infancy Gospel, recounts how he violated each of the commandments (except "Thou shalt not kill"), offering critiques along the way. De André considered this song one of his very best for its hard-hitting social impact.



Third edition
Tito:
“You shall have no other gods before me.
It often made me think:
different peoples hailing from the East
said that essentially it’s all the same.

They believed in another one, different from you,
and they've done me no harm.
They believed in another one, different from you,
and they've done me no harm.

Don’t take the name of God,
don’t take it in vain.
With a knife planted in my hip
I shouted my pain and his name:

but perhaps he was tired, perhaps too busy,
and he didn’t hear my sorrow.
But maybe he was tired, maybe too far away,
indeed I did take it in vain.

Honor the father, honor the mother,
and honor also their rod,
kiss the hand that broke your nose
because you asked for a morsel:

when my father’s heart stopped
I felt no sorrow.
When my father’s heart stopped
I felt no sorrow.

Remember the Sabbath, keep it holy.
Easy for us thieves
to enter the temples that regurgitate psalms
of slaves and of their masters,

without ending up tied to the altars,
slaughtered like animals.
Without end, tied to the altars,
slaughtered like animals.

The fifth says you shall not steal,
and maybe I obeyed it,
emptying in silence the already bulging pockets
of those who had stolen:

But I, lawless, stole in my name;
those others, in the name of God.
But I, lawless, stole in my name;
those others, in the name of God.

Don’t commit acts that aren't pure,
that is, don’t scatter your semen.
Impregnate a woman every time you love her
and thus you will be a man of faith:

then the desire vanishes and the child remains,
and hunger kills so many of them.
I, perhaps, confused pleasure and love:
but I didn’t create sorrow.

The seventh says not to kill
if you want to be worthy of Heaven.
Look at it today, this law of God,
three times nailed to the wood:

look at the end of that Nazarethan,
and a thief dies no less.
Look at the end of that Nazarethan,
and a thief dies no less.

Don’t bear false witness
and help them to kill a man.
They know it by heart, the divine right,
and always forget the pardon:

I perjured on God and on my honor,
and no, I don’t feel any sorrow.
I perjured on God and on my honor,
and no, I don’t feel any sorrow.

Don’t covet the possessions of others
and don’t covet the wife.
Tell it to those, ask it of the few,
who have a woman and something:

in the beds of others, already warm with love,
I felt no sorrow.
Yesterday's envy isn't done yet:
this evening I’ll envy your life.

But now that evening comes and darkness
removes the sorrow from my eyes
and the sun slips down beyond the dunes
to violate other nights:

I, in seeing this man who is dying,
Mother, I feel sorrow.
In the piety that doesn’t yield to resentment,
Mother, I learned love.”

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition


La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.

Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Sunday, March 2, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Laudate hominem - Praise the Person

Laudate dominum
Laudate dominum

Gli umili, gli straccioni:
"Il potere che cercava il nostro umore
mentre uccideva nel nome d'un dio,
nel nome d'un dio uccideva un uomo:
nel nome di quel dio si assolse.

Poi, poi chiamò dio, poi chiamò dio
poi chiamò dio quell'uomo
e nel suo nome, nuovo nome
altri uomini,
altri, altri uomini
uccise ".

Non voglio pensarti figlio di Dio
ma figlio dell'uomo, fratello anche mio.

Laudate dominum
Laudate dominum

Ancora una volta abbracciamo la fede
che insegna ad avere, ad avere il diritto
al perdono, perdono sul male commesso
nel nome d'un dio
che il male non volle, il male non volle,
finché restò uomo, uomo.

Non posso pensarti figlio di Dio
ma figlio dell'uomo, fratello anche mio.

Qualcuno, qualcuno tentò di imitarlo
se non ci riuscì fu scusato,
anche lui perdonato
perché non s'imita
imita un dio,
un dio va temuto e lodato, lodato...

Laudate hominem
No, non devo pensarti figlio di Dio
ma figlio dell'uomo, fratello anche mio.
Ma figlio dell'uomo, fratello anche mio.
Laudate hominem.

Laudate hominemm © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

De André once called "Laudate hominem" his final sermon of the album. "I need to, and I believe everyone's like me, consider Christ to be a man, and his story also a human one. Because if I consider him to be a God, he can't be imitated; if he's considered a man, yes, I can do it."




In 2010, PFM, the Italian progressive rock group that De André toured with in 1979-1980 and that made a variety of interesting rearrangements of classic De André songs, released an album reworking La Buona Novella.

Third edition
Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord

The humble, the beggars:
“The power that sought our mood
while killing in the name of a god,
in the name of a god killing a man:
in the name of that god one is absolved.

Then, then he called god, then he called god,
then he called god, that man.
And in his name, new name,
other men,
many other men,
he killed.”

I don’t want to think of you as son of God,
but son of man, even brother of mine.

Praise to God
Praise to God

Yet one more time let’s embrace the faith
that teaches to have, to have the right
to a pardon, pardon on the evil committed,
in the name of a god
that didn’t want evil, he didn’t want evil,
until there remained Man, Man.

I can’t think of you as son of God
But son of man, even my brother.

Someone, someone tried to imitate him,
if they couldn’t do it they were excused,
even he, pardoned,
because one doesn’t imitate,
imitate a god,
a god goes feared and praised, praised . . .

Praise the person.
No, I don’t have to think of you as son of God,
but son of man, even my brother;
but son of man, even my brother.
Praise the person.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition


La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.


above: Hot Autumn 1969 - "The owners tan themselves at the beach, the workers roast in the ovens . . ."

left: Fabrizio De André in 1970, photo by Barbara Rombi Serra.
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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Il pescatore - The Fisherman

All'ombra dell'ultimo sole
s'era assopito un pescatore
e aveva un solco lungo il viso
come una specie di sorriso.

Venne alla spiaggia un assassino
due occhi grandi da bambino
due occhi enormi di paura
eran gli specchi di un'avventura.

E chiese al vecchio dammi il pane
ho poco tempo e troppa fame
e chiese al vecchio dammi il vino
ho sete e sono un assassino.

Gli occhi dischiuse il vecchio al giorno
non si guardò neppure intorno
ma versò il vino, spezzò il pane
per chi diceva ho sete e ho fame.

E fu il calore d'un momento
poi via di nuovo verso il vento
poi via di nuovo verso il sole
dietro alle spalle un pescatore.

Dietro alle spalle un pescatore
e la memoria è già dolore
è già il rimpianto d'un aprile
giocato all'ombra di un cortile.

Vennero in sella due gendarmi
vennero in sella con le armi
chiesero al vecchio se lì vicino
fosse passato un assassino.

Ma all'ombra dell'ultimo sole
s'era assopito il pescatore
e aveva un solco lungo il viso
come una specie di sorriso
e aveva un solco lungo il viso
come una specie di sorriso.

Il pescatore © 1970 Fabrizio De André

"Il pescatore" was released in 1970 as a single. One of De André's most popular songs, it never appeared on a studio album, but can be heard on several live albums.

In the shadows of the last sunlight
a fisherman dozed off,
and he had a deeply furrowed brow
almost like a kind of smile.

To the beach came an assassin,
two eyes as big as a child’s,
two eyes enormous with fear -
they were mirrors of some adventure.

He begged the old man gimme some bread
I’ve little time and too much hunger, and
demanded of the old man gimme some wine
I’m thirsty, and I’m an assassin.

The old man opened his eyes a peak to the day
and didn’t even look around,
but he poured the wine and broke some bread
for whoever said he was thirsty and hungry.

There was a warmth in the moment, then
the assassin turned anew towards the wind
and turned again towards the sun,
behind him was a fisherman.

Yes, behind him was a fisherman,
and the memory is already painful,
is already the regret of an April that
played out in the shadows of some back yard.

Two gendarmes came on horseback,
they came armed in their saddles,
they asked the old man if anywhere nearby
there might have passed an assassin.

But in the shadows of the last sunlight
a fisherman dozed off,
and he had a deeply furrowed brow
almost like a kind of smile.
And he had a deeply furrowed brow
almost like a kind of smile.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


In 1979 Fabrizio De André joined forces with Italy's premiere progressive rock band PFM, who contributed new arrangements to many of De André's earlier work.
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