Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Volume 8:
    La cattiva strada - The Errant Way

Alla parata militare
sputò negli occhi a un innocente
e quando lui chiese "Perché "
lui gli rispose "Questo è niente
e adesso è ora che io vada"
e l'innocente lo seguì,
senza le armi lo seguì
sulla sua cattiva strada.

Sui viali dietro la stazione
rubò l'incasso a una regina
e quando lei gli disse "Come"
lui le rispose "Forse è meglio è come prima
forse è ora che io vada"
e la regina lo seguì
col suo dolore lo seguì
sulla sua cattiva strada.

E in una notte senza luna
truccò le stelle ad un pilota
quando l'aeroplano cadde
lui disse "È colpa di chi muore
comunque è meglio che io vada"
ed il pilota lo seguì
senza le stelle lo seguì
sulla sua cattiva strada.

A un diciottenne alcolizzato
versò da bere ancora un poco
e mentre quello lo guardava
lui disse "Amico ci scommetto stai per dirmi
adesso è ora che io vada"
l'alcolizzato lo capì
non disse niente e lo seguì
sulla sua cattiva strada.

Ad un processo per amore
baciò le bocche dei giurati
e ai loro sguardi imbarazzati
rispose "Adesso è più normale
adesso è meglio, adesso è giusto, giusto, è giusto
che io vada"
ed i giurati lo seguirono
a bocca aperta lo seguirono
sulla sua cattiva strada,
sulla sua cattiva strada.

E quando poi sparì del tutto
a chi diceva "È stato un male"
a chi diceva "È stato un bene"
raccomandò "Non vi conviene
venir con me dovunque vada,
ma c'è amore un po' per tutti
e tutti quanti hanno un amore
sulla cattiva strada
sulla cattiva strada.

La cattiva strada © 1975 Fabrizio De André/Francesco De Gregori

Literally, "cattiva strada" means "bad road." But in a moral sense, if you're straying down the wrong path, going down a slippery slope or leading someone astray, you're on a "cattiva strada" and more than a paving crew will be needed. Author and De André expert Cesare Romana observed the following about "La cattiva strada": "The song is among the most illustrative of the philosophy of a great moralist disguised as an 'immoralist.' The bad road represents a pirate ethic, and also the free port where the powers-that-be don't come. Thus it comes to be defined as bad, yet holding these mainstream powers at a distance endows a force most subversive and revolutionary that can be placed at our disposition: love. The fact is that De André never moved far from the bad road. He continued to think that the humanity, love and dignity of man resided there, and he went there to pursue those qualities."
So the "bad road" of this song is more like a backroad or one on the wrong side of the tracks, one of life's possible roadways that is looked down upon by the social mainstream, which counsels to avoid such an "errant way."





At the military procession
he spat in the eyes of an innocent,
and when asked why,
he answered him, “This is nothing
and now it’s time that I go.”
And the innocent man followed him,
unarmed he followed him
on his errant way.

On the boulevards behind the station
he stole the earnings of a street queen,
and when she said to him “How come?”,
he answered her, “Maybe it’s better, it’s like before,
maybe it’s time that I go.”
And the queen followed him,
with her sadness she followed him
on his errant way.

And one moonless night
he tampered with the stars on a pilot.
When the airplane fell,
he said, “It’s the fault of the one who dies,
thus it’s better that I go.”
And the pilot followed him,
without the stars he followed him
on his errant way.

For an 18-year-old alcoholic
he poured a little more to drink,
and while that one was watching him
he said, “Friend I bet you were about to tell me
now it’s time that I go.”
The alcoholic understood him,
he said nothing and followed him
on his errant way.

At a trial for love
he kissed the mouths of the jurors,
and to their embarrassed looks
he answered, “Now it’s more normal,
now it’s better, now it’s right, right, it’s right
that I go.”
And the jurors followed him,
with mouths agape they followed him
on his errant way,
on his errant way.

And then when he disappeared completely,
to whoever said, “It was a bad thing,”
to whoever said, “It was a good thing,”
he advised, “It doesn’t pay for you
to come with me wherever I go,
but there is love, a little for everyone,
and everyone has a love
on the errant way,
on the errant way."

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume 8, released in 1975, was largely the fruit of three months of hanging out and writing with Francesco De Gregori at De André's Sardinia home, after De André had traveled to Rome to hear the young songwriter perform live. De André was inspired by the possibilities and extended an invitation to De Gregori to visit. Five of the songs have De Gregori's mark on them, and there are two new De André songs and another Leonard Cohen cover. Critics weren't too kind to this album, thinking it was too influenced by De Gregori and rather obscure in some of the lyrics. If you like De André, though, you will find plenty to like here, critics be damned!
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Monday, July 7, 2014

Volume 8:
   Oceano - Ocean

Quanti cavalli hai tu seduto alla porta
Tu che sfiori il cielo col tuo dito più corto
La notte non ha bisogno
La notte fa benissimo a meno del tuo concerto
Ti offenderesti se qualcuno ti chiamasse un tentativo.

Ed arrivò un bambino con le mani in tasca
Ed un oceano verde dietro le spalle
Disse "Vorrei sapere, quanto è grande il verde
Come è bello il mare, quanto dura una stanza
È troppo tempo che guardo il sole, mi ha fatto male"

Prova a lasciare le campane al loro cerchio di rondini
E non ficcare il naso negli affari miei
E non venirmi a dire "Preferisco un poeta,
Preferisco un poeta ad un poeta sconfitto"

Ma se ci tieni tanto
puoi baciarmi ogni volta che vuoi.

Oceano © 1975 Fabrizio De André/Francesco De Gregori

De Andrè's young son Cristiano had taken a liking to a De Gregori song "Alice" which starts with Alice watching the cats while the cats were looking about in the sun. At the time of hearing the song Cristiano wondered why Alice was watching the cats and not something else, like a streetlamp or a bush or a tree. A year later Cristiano got his chance to ask the question when Cristiano visited Sardinia while De Gregori was there writing with the elder De Andrè. De Gregori had no answer, but within days he and De Andrè had written "Oceano" as a response, dedicated to Cristiano.



How many horses have you, you there seated at the door,
you who touch the sky lightly with your shortest finger?
The night doesn’t need anything,
the night gets along most fine without your concert.
You would take offense if someone called you an attempt.

And a young lad arrived with his hands in his pockets,
and a green ocean behind his shoulders.
He said, “I would like to know, how big is green?
How beautiful is the sea? How long does a verse last?
It’s too long that I’ve looked at the sun, it’s made me ill.”

Try to leave the bells for their circle of swallows,
and don’t stick your nose in my affairs,
and don’t come to me to say, “I prefer a poet,
I prefer a poet to a poet defeated.”

But if it’s so important to you,
you can kiss me every time you want.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume 8, released in 1975, was largely the fruit of three months of hanging out and writing with Francesco De Gregori at De André's Sardinia home, after De André had traveled to Rome to hear the young songwriter perform live. De André was inspired by the possibilities and extended an invitation to De Gregori to visit. Five of the songs have De Gregori's mark on them, and there are two new De André songs and another Leonard Cohen cover. Critics weren't too kind to this album, thinking it was too influenced by De Gregori and rather obscure in some of the lyrics. If you like De André, though, you will find plenty to like here, critics be damned!
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Volume 8:
   Nancy (Leonard Cohen)

Un po' di tempo fa
Nancy era senza compagnia
all'ultimo spettacolo
con la sua bigiotteria.

Nel palazzo di giustizia
suo padre era innocente
nel palazzo del mistero
Non c'era proprio niente
non c'era quasi niente.

Un po' di tempo fa
eravamo distratti
lei portava calze Verdi
Dormiva con tutti.

Ma cosa fai domani
Non lo chiese mai a nessuno
s'innamorò di tutti noi
non proprio di qualcuno
non solo di qualcuno.

E un po' di tempo fa
col telefono rotto
cercò dal terzo piano
la sua serenità.

Dicevamo che era libera
e nessuno era sincero
non l'avremmo corteggiata mai
nel palazzo del mistero
nel palazzo del mistero.

E dove mandi i tuoi pensieri adesso
trovi Nancy a fermarli
molti hanno usato il suo corpo
molti hanno pettinato i suoi capelli.
E nel vuoto della notte
quando hai freddo e sei perduto
È ancora Nancy che ti dice –
Amore sono contenta che sei venuto.

Sono contenta che sei venuto.

Text of Nancy © 1975 Fabrizio De André translation of
Seems So Long Ago, Nancy © 1969 Leonard Cohen


Cohen wrote "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy" based on a young girl who committed suicide when she was forced to give her baby, born out of wedlock, up for adoption. She came from an important family that included members of Parliament and a Supreme Court judge, so the social and family pressures on her were intense.







Seems So Long Ago, Nancy – Leonard Cohen

It seems so long ago,
Nancy was alone,
Looking at the late late show
Through a semi-precious stone.
In the house of honesty
Her father was on trial,
In the house of mystery
There was no one at all,
There was no one at all.

It seems so long ago,
None of us were strong;
Nancy wore green stockings
And she slept with everyone.
She never said she'd wait for us
Although she was alone,
I think she fell in love for us
In nineteen sixty one,
In nineteen sixty one.

It seems so long ago,
Nancy was alone,
A forty five beside her head,
An open telephone.
We told her she was beautiful,
We told her she was free
But none of us would meet her in
The house of mystery,
The house of mystery.

And now you look around you,
See her everywhere,
Many use her body,
Many comb her hair.
In the hollow of the night
When you are cold and numb
You hear her talking freely then,
She's happy that you've come,
She's happy that you've come.
A little while ago
Nancy was without company,
at the last show
with her costume jewelry.

In the palace of justice
her father was innocent,
in the palace of mystery
there was no one at all,
there was almost no one.

A little while ago
we were distracted,
she wore green stockings
and she slept with everyone.

But what will you do tomorrow?
She never asked anyone,
she fell in love with all of us,
not just with someone,
not only with someone.

And a little while ago
with a broken telephone
she searched from the fourth floor
for her serenity.

We used to say she was free
and no one was sincere.
We never courted her
in the palace of mystery,
in the palace of mystery.

And where do you send your thoughts now?
You go see Nancy to stop them
many have used her body,
many have combed her hair.
And in the emptiness of the night
when you are cold and lost
it is still Nancy who tells you,
“Love, I’m happy you’ve come.”

“I’m happy that you have come.”

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume 8, released in 1975, was largely the fruit of three months of hanging out and writing with Francesco De Gregori at De André's Sardinia home, after De André had traveled to Rome to hear the young songwriter perform live. De André was inspired by the possibilities and extended an invitation to De Gregori to visit. Five of the songs have De Gregori's mark on them, and there are two new De André songs and another Leonard Cohen cover. Critics weren't too kind to this album, thinking it was too influenced by De Gregori and rather obscure in some of the lyrics. If you like De André, though, you will find plenty to like here, critics be damned!


Nancy - Fabrizio De André

A while ago
Nancy was without company
At the last show
With her costume jewelry
In the palace of justice
Her father was innocent
In the palace of mystery
There was no one at all
There was almost no one.

A while ago
We were distracted
She wore green stockings
And she slept with everyone.
But what do you do tomorrow
She never asked anyone
She fell in love with all of us
Not just with someone
Not only with someone.

And a while ago
With a broken telephone
She searched from the fourth floor
For her serenity.
They used to say she was free
And no one was sincere
We never courted her
In the palace of mystery
In the palace of mystery.

And where do you send your thoughts now
You visit Nancy to stop them
Many have used her body
Many have combed her hair.
And in the emptiness of the night
When you are cold and lost
It is still Nancy who tells you
“Love, I’m happy you’ve come.”
“I’m happy that you have come.”
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Volume 8:
   Le storie di ieri
   The Stories of Yesterday (Francesco De Gregori)

Mio padre aveva un sogno comune,
condiviso dalla sua generazione,
la mascella al cortile parlava,
troppi morti lo hanno tradito,
tutta gente che aveva capito.

E il bambino nel cortile sta giocando,
tira sassi nel cielo e nel mare,
ogni volta che colpisce una stella
chiude gli occhi e si mette a sognare,
chiude gli occhi e si mette a volare.

E i cavalli a Salò sono morti di noia,
a giocare col nero perdi sempre,
Mussolini ha scritto anche poesie,
i poeti che strane creature,
ogni volta che parlano è una truffa.

Ma mio padre è un ragazzo tranquillo,
la mattina legge molti giornali,
è convinto di avere delle idee.
E suo figlio è una nave pirata,
e suo figlio è una nave pirata.

E anche adesso è rimasta una scritta nera,
sopra il muro davanti a casa mia.
Dice che il movimento vincerà;
il gran capo ha la faccia serena,
la cravatta intonata alla camicia.

Ma il bambino nel cortile si è fermato,
si è stancato di seguire gli aquiloni,
si è seduto tra i ricordi vicini,
i rumori lontani,
guarda il muro e si guarda le mani,
guarda il muro e si guarda le mani,
guarda il muro e si guarda le mani.

Le storie di ieri © 1975 Francesco De Gregori

"Le storie di ieri" is the only song De André ever recorded in studio that he did not have a hand in writing or translating. The images in the song reference both fascism and neo-fascism, the political currents from both the older generation and the younger generation of Italy in the 1970s. Translation notes. 1. Salò was the capital of Mussolini's Italian Social Republic from 1943-1945. 2. The great leader referenced in the 5th verse is Giorgio Almirante, the first leader of the Italian Social Movement, a political party founded in 1946 that absorbed many wartime fascists into its ranks.



The jaw on his balcony . . .
. . . speaking to the courtyard.
My father had a common dream
shared by his generation.
The jaw spoke to the courtyard.
Too many dead ones betrayed it,
all the people who had understood.

And the child in the courtyard is playing,
he throws stones into the sky and into the sea.
Every time he hits a star,
he closes his eyes and starts to dream,
he closes his eyes and starts to fly.

And the horses at Salò are bored to death.
Playing with black you always lose.
Mussolini wrote poems too -
poets, what strange creatures.
Every time they speak it’s a con.

But my father is a calm guy.
Mornings he reads many papers,
he’s persuaded to have some ideas.
And his son is a pirate ship,
and his son is a pirate ship.

And even now there remains some black graffiti
on the wall in front of my house.
It says the movement will win;
the great leader has a serene face,
his tie matching his shirt.

But the boy in the courtyard stopped,
he tired of chasing kites.
He sat down between the close memories,
the distant sounds,
he looks at the wall and looks at his hands,
he looks at the wall and looks at his hands,
he looks at the wall and looks at his hands.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume 8, released in 1975, was largely the fruit of three months of hanging out and writing with Francesco De Gregori at De André's Sardinia home, after De André had traveled to Rome to hear the young songwriter perform live. De André was inspired by the possibilities and extended an invitation to De Gregori to visit. Five of the songs have De Gregori's mark on them, and there are two new De André songs and another Leonard Cohen cover. Critics weren't too kind to this album, thinking it was too influenced by De Gregori and rather obscure in some of the lyrics. If you like De André, though, you will find plenty to like here, critics be damned!

Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Friday, July 4, 2014

Volume 8:
   Giugno '73 - June of '73

Tua madre ce l'ha molto con me
perché sono sposato e in più canto
però canto bene e non so se tua madre
sia altrettanto capace a vergognarsi di me.

La gazza che ti ho regalato
è morta, tua sorella ne ha pianto,
quel giorno non avevano fiori, peccato,
quel giorno vendevano gazze parlanti.

E speravo che avrebbe insegnato a tua madre
A dirmi "Ciao come stai",
insomma non proprio a cantare
per quello ci sono già io come sai.
I miei amici sono tutti educati con te
però vestono in modo un po' strano
mi consigli di mandarli da un sarto e mi chiedi
"Sono loro stasera i migliori che abbiamo ".

E adesso ridi e ti versi un cucchiaio di mimosa
Nell'imbuto di un polsino slacciato.
I miei amici ti hanno dato la mano,
li accompagno, il loro viaggio porta un po' più lontano.

E tu aspetta un amore più fidato
il tuo accendino sai io l'ho già regalato
e lo stesso quei due peli d'elefante
mi fermavano il sangue
li ho dati a un passante.

Poi il resto viene sempre da sé
i tuoi "Aiuto" saranno ancora salvati
io mi dico è stato meglio lasciarci
che non esserci mai incontrati.

Giugno '73 © 1975 Fabrizio De André

"Giugno '73" is an autobiographical song about a relationship De André had with a woman in between his first and second wives. While the relationship was broken off by the woman, De André looks back on everything with no regrets. He managed to maintain good relations with the women he had loved, even after intimate relationships were over.



Your mother has it in for me
because I am married, and what’s more I sing.
But I sing well, and I don’t know if your mother
can be as much ashamed of me as I am good at singing.

The magpie I gave you as a gift
is dead. Your sister cried for it.
That day they didn’t have flowers. Too bad,
that day they were selling talking magpies.

And I was hoping it would have taught your mother
to tell me “Hi how are you?”
In other words, not just to sing.
That’s why I’m already there, as you know.
My friends are all well-mannered with you,
but they dress in a style a little strange.
You advise me to send them to a tailor and you ask me,
“Are they the best that we have tonight?”

And now you laugh and pour yourself a spoonful of mimosa
in the funnel of an unbuttoned cuff.
My friends gave you a hand.
I accompany them, their voyage carries on a bit further.

And you wait for a more reliable love.
Your cigarette lighter, you know I already gave it away,
same as those two elephant hairs.
They stopped my blood.
You gave them to a passerby.

Then the rest always unfolds on its own,
your “Help”s will still be rescued.
I tell myself it was better to leave each other
than never to have met.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Volume 8, released in 1975, was largely the fruit of three months of hanging out and writing with Francesco De Gregori at De André's Sardinia home, after De André had traveled to Rome to hear the young songwriter perform live. De André was inspired by the possibilities and extended an invitation to De Gregori to visit. Five of the songs have De Gregori's mark on them, and there are two new De André songs and another Leonard Cohen cover. Critics weren't too kind to this album, thinking it was too influenced by De Gregori and rather obscure in some of the lyrics. If you like De André, though, you will find plenty to like here, critics be damned!
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Volume 8:
   Dolce Luna - Sweet Moon

Cammina come un vecchio marinaio
non ha più un posto dove andare
la terra sotto i piedi non lo aspetta
strano modo di ballare
sua moglie ha un altro uomo e un'altra donna,
è proprio un uomo da buttare
e nelle tasche gli è rimasta solo
un po' di polvere di mare
e non può testimoniare.

Si muove sopra i sassi
come un leone invernale
ti può parlare ore ed ore
della sua quarta guerra mondiale
conserva la sua cena
dentro a un foglio di giornale
la sua ragazza "esca dalle lunghe gambe"
fa all'amore niente male
e non può testimoniare.

Lui vide il marinaio indiano
alzarsi in piedi e barcollare
con un coltello nella schiena
tra la schiuma e la stella polare
e il timoniere di Shanghai
tornò tranquillo a pilotare
e lui lo vide con l'anello al dito
e un altro anello da rubare
ma non può testimoniare.

Dal buio delle tango notti "Balla Linda"
alla paralisi di un porto,
la luce delle stelle chiare
come un rifugio capovolto,
la sua balena "Dolce Luna"
che lo aspetta in alto mare,
gli ha detto molte volte "Amore,
con chi mi vuoi dimenticare"
e non può testimoniare
e non può testimoniare.

E tu mi vieni a dire voglio un figlio
su cui potermi regolare
con due occhi qualunque e il terzo occhio
inconfondibile e speciale
che non ti importa niente
se non riuscirà a nuotare
l'importante è che abbia sulla guancia destra
quella mia voglia di mare
e mi dici ancora che il mio nome
glielo devo proprio dare
ma non so testimoniare
io non so testimoniare.

Dolce Luna © 1975 Fabrizio De André/Francesco De Gregori

De André and De Gregori had worked together on the translation of Bob Dylan's Desolation Row that appeared on De Andrè's previous album. Perhaps "Dolce Luna" was crafted out of an admiration for Dylan's often cryptic and image-rich lyric style. The line about "long-legged bait" refers to a Dylan Thomas poem "Ballad of the Long-legged Bait" from his 1946 collection Deaths and Entrances.

He walks like an old sailor,
he no longer has any place to go.
The ground under his feet doesn't wait for him -
strange way of dancing.
His wife has another man and another woman,
it’s just a man to throw out,
and in his pockets there remains only
a bit of dust from the sea,
and he cannot testify.

He moves over the stones
like a winter lion,
he can talk to you for hours and hours
about his fourth world war.
He saves his dinner
wrapped in newspaper
His girl “long-legged bait”
makes love not bad,
and he cannot testify.

He saw the Indian sailor
getting up on his feet and staggering
with a knife in his back
between the foam and the North Star,
and the coxswain of Shanghai
returned, calm, to pilot
and he saw him with a ring on his finger
and another ring to steal,
but he cannot testify.

From the darkness of the tango nights “Pretty Dance”
to the paralysis of a harbor,
the bright starlight
like a refuge overturned.
His whale “Sweet Moon”
that waited for him in high seas,
told him many times “Love,
with whom do you want to forget me?”
And he cannot testify
and he cannot testify.

And you come to me to say I want a son
on whom I can model myself,
with any old two eyes and a third eye,
unmistakable and special,
that you don’t give a damn about
if he doesn’t manage to swim.
The important thing is that he has on the right cheek
that mark of mine for the sea.
And you still tell me that my name
I just have to give to him,
but I don’t know how to testify
I don’t know how to testify.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Volume 8, released in 1975, was largely the fruit of three months of hanging out and writing with Francesco De Gregori at De André's Sardinia home, after De André had traveled to Rome to hear the young songwriter perform live. De André was inspired by the possibilities and extended an invitation to De Gregori to visit. Five of the songs have De Gregori's mark on them, and there are two new De André songs and another Leonard Cohen cover. Critics weren't too kind to this album, thinking it was too influenced by De Gregori and rather obscure in some of the lyrics. If you like De André, though, you will find plenty to like here, critics be damned!
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Volume 8:
   Canzone per l'estate - Song for the Summer

Con tua moglie che lavava
i piatti in cucina e non capiva
Con tua figlia che provava
il suo vestito nuovo e sorrideva
Con la radio che ronzava
per il mondo cose strane
E il respiro del tuo cane che dormiva

Coi tuoi santi sempre pronti
a benedire i tuoi sforzi per il pane
Con il tuo bambino biondo a cui
hai donato una pistola per Natale,
che sembra vera
Con il letto in cui tua moglie
non ti ha mai saputo dare
e gli occhiali che fra un po' dovrai cambiare

Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare

Con le tue finestre aperte sulla strada
e gli occhi chiusi sulla gente
Con la tua tranquillità, lucidità,
soddisfazione permanente
La tua coda di ricambio,
le tue nuvole in affitto
e le tue rondini di guardia sopra il tetto

Con il tuo francescanesimo a puntate
e la tua dolce consistenza
Col tuo ossigeno purgato
e le tue onde regolate in una stanza
Col permesso di trasmettere
e il divieto di parlare
e ogni giorno un altro giorno da contare

Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare

Con i tuoi entusiasmi lenti
precisati da ricordi stagionali
E una bella addormentata che si sveglia
a tutto quel che le regali
Con il tuo collezionismo
di parole complicate
La tua ultima canzone per l'estate

Con le tue mani di carta
per avvolgere altre mani normali
Con l'idiota in giardino
ad isolare le tue rose migliori
Col tuo freddo di montagna
e il divieto di sudare
E più niente per poterti vergognare

Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare
Com'è che non riesci più a volare

Canzone per l'estate © 1975 Fabrizio De André/Francesco De Gregori

The music of "Canzone per l'estate" is entirely De Gregori's, while the lyrics were co-written. De André described the song as somewhat autobiographical, describing the tension between the bourgeois life he grew up in and lived much of his life in, and his attraction to anarchism and to society's outcasts who seemed more genuine and alive than the upper classes. Indeed the song describes well the soul-sapping nature of a comfortable, prosperous life that takes one away from vitality and even political engagement ("your eyes closed to the people").

With your wife who washed
dishes in the kitchen and didn’t understand,
with your daughter who tried on
her new outfit and smiled,
with the radio that droned
strange things for the world,
and the breathing of your dog that slept.

With your saints ever ready
to bless your efforts to bring home the bread,
with your little blonde boy to whom
for Christmas you gave a pistol
that seemed real,
with the bed in which your wife
never knew how to give to you,
and the glasses you’ll have to change in a bit.

How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?

With your windows open onto the street
and your eyes closed to the people
with your calmness, lucidity,
permanent satisfaction
your tail of change,
your rented clouds
and your swallows on guard on the roof

With your Franciscanism in installments
and your sweet substance,
with your purified oxygen
and the dialed-in waves in your room,
with permission to broadcast
and speaking prohibited
and every day another day to count.

How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?

With your slow enthusiasms
defined by seasonal memories
and a sleeping beauty who wakes up
to every gift that you give to her,
with your collecting
of complicated words,
your final song for the summer.

With your hands of paper
for wrapping other normal hands,
with the idiot in the garden
to isolate your best roses,
with your mountain coldness
and the ban on sweating
and nothing more that can embarrass you.

How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?
How is it that you can’t manage to fly anymore?

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Volume 8, released in 1975, was largely the fruit of three months of hanging out and writing with Francesco De Gregori at De André's Sardinia home, after De André had traveled to Rome to hear the young songwriter perform live. De André was inspired by the possibilities and extended an invitation to De Gregori to visit. Five of the songs have De Gregori's mark on them, and there are two new De André songs and another Leonard Cohen cover. Critics weren't too kind to this album, thinking it was too influenced by De Gregori and rather obscure in some of the lyrics. If you like De André, though, you will find plenty to like here, critics be damned!
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Volume 8:
   Amico fragile - Fragile Friend

Evaporato in una nuvola rossa
in una delle molte feritoie della notte
con un bisogno d'attenzione e d'amore
troppo, "Se mi vuoi bene piangi "
per essere corrisposti,
valeva la pena divertirvi le serate estive
con un semplicissimo "Mi ricordo":
per osservarvi affittare un chilo d'erba
ai contadini in pensione e alle loro donne
e regalare a piene mani oceani
ed altre ed altre onde ai marinai in servizio,
fino a scoprire ad uno ad uno i vostri nascondigli
senza rimpiangere la mia credulità:
perché già dalla prima trincea
ero più curioso di voi,
ero molto più curioso di voi.

E poi sospeso tra i vostri "Come sta"
meravigliato da luoghi meno comuni e più feroci,
tipo "Come ti senti amico, amico fragile,
se vuoi potrò occuparmi un'ora al mese di te"
"Lo sa che io ho perduto due figli"
"Signora lei è una donna piuttosto distratta."

E ancora ucciso dalla vostra cortesia
nell'ora in cui un mio sogno
ballerina di seconda fila,
agitava per chissà quale avvenire
il suo presente di seni enormi
e il suo cesareo fresco,
pensavo è bello che dove finiscono le mie dita
debba in qualche modo incominciare una chitarra.

E poi seduto in mezzo ai vostri arrivederci,
mi sentivo meno stanco di voi
ero molto meno stanco di voi.

Potevo stuzzicare i pantaloni della sconosciuta
fino a vederle spalancarsi la bocca.
Potevo chiedere ad uno qualunque dei miei figli
di parlare ancora male e ad alta voce di me.
Potevo barattare la mia chitarra e il suo elmo
con una scatola di legno che dicesse perderemo.
Potevo chiedervi come si chiama il vostro cane
Il mio è un po' di tempo che si chiama Libero.
Potevo assumere un cannibale al giorno
per farmi insegnare la mia distanza dalle stelle.
Potevo attraversare litri e litri di corallo
per raggiungere un posto che si chiamasse arrivederci.

E mai che mi sia venuto in mente,
di essere più ubriaco di voi
di essere molto più ubriaco di voi.

Amico fragile © 1975 Fabrizio De André/Francesco De Gregori

De André wrote "Amico fragile" in a drunken rage after attending a party of rich Italians vacationing on Sardinia. They were only interested in having him play guitar and sing his songs, whereas De André wanted to engage people in discussions about events going on in Italy. He became ever more frustrated and inebriated with the shallowness of the evening, returning home to stay up all night and produce this "stream of semi-consciousness" rant. The song was a staple in his live shows and was one of De André's favorites.

Evaporated into a red cloud
in one of the many hole-in-the-walls of the night,
with a need for attention and for love,
too much “If you care for me, cry”
to be requited.
It was good enough for you, to enjoy the summer evenings
with the simplest “I remember”:
to observe yourself renting a chunk of grass
to the retired countrymen and to their wives,
and giving handfuls of ocean
and waves and more waves to the hired deckhands
until discovering one by one your hideaways,
never missing my naiveté.
Because already, from the very first trench,
I was more curious than you,
I was much more curious than you.

And then left hanging between your "How-are-you?"s,
astonished by places not so common and oh so cruel,
like “How are you feeling, friend, fragile friend?
If you want I can devote an hour a month to you.”
“You know I lost two children.”
“Madam, you are one absent-minded woman.”

And still slayed by your courtesy
in the hour when one of my dreams,
a ballerina in the second row,
was agitating for who knows what to happen,
her here-and-now of enormous breasts
and her fresh C-section.
I was thinking it’s beautiful that where my fingers end
there would have to begin, in some way or other, a guitar.

And then seated in the midst of your goodbyes,
I felt less tired than you,
I was much less tired than you.

I could tease at the pants of the stranger
until I saw her mouth open wide.
I could ask someone or other from my kids’ circles
to talk loud and trashy about me.
I could barter my guitar and its protective helmet
for a wooden box that said on it "We Will Lose."
I could ask you the name of your dog,
mine is a little bit of time by the name of Free.
I could hire a cannibal a day
to make them teach me how far I am from the stars.
I could go through liter after liter of rotgut coral
to reach a place that was called Goodbye.

And never did it enter my mind
that I was drunker than you were,
that I was so much more wasted than you.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume 8, released in 1975, was largely the fruit of three months of hanging out and writing with Francesco De Gregori at De André's Sardinia home, after De André had traveled to Rome to hear the young songwriter perform live. De André was inspired by the possibilities and extended an invitation to De Gregori to visit. Five of the songs have De Gregori's mark on them, and there are two new De André songs and another Leonard Cohen cover. Critics weren't too kind to this album, thinking it was too influenced by De Gregori and rather obscure in some of the lyrics. If you like De André you will find plenty to like here.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List