Saturday, November 8, 2014

Le nuvole:
    Le nuvole - Clouds

Vanno
vengono
ogni tanto si fermano
e quando si fermano
sono nere come il corvo
sembra che ti guardano con malocchio

Certe volte sono bianche
e corrono
e prendono la forma dell'airone
o della pecora
o di qualche altra bestia
ma questo lo vedono meglio i bambini
che giocano a corrergli dietro per tanti metri

Certe volte ti avvisano con rumore
prima di arrivare
e la terra si trema
e gli animali si stanno zitti
certe volte ti avvisano con rumore

Vengono
vanno
ritornano
e magari si fermano tanti giorni
che non vedi più il sole e le stelle
e ti sembra di non conoscere più
il posto dove stai

Vanno
vengono
per una vera
mille sono finte
e si mettono li tra noi e il cielo
per lasciarci soltanto una voglia di pioggia.

Le nuvole © 1990 Fabrizio De André/Mauro Pagani

For the opening song of the album, De André chose to have the lyrics recited by two women, one old and one young, who "represented Mother Earth." But the clouds are not intended to be clouds in the sky. "They are these intrusive and damaging characters of our civic, political and economic life that I'm trying to describe in the first part of the album, along with some of their victims. These clouds are the figures who hold power, with all of their arrogance, as bad examples. I was inspired by Aristophanes. . . . My clouds are all those who are terrified of the new, because the new could subvert their positions of power."



They go,
they come,
every so often they stop,
and when they stop
they are black like the crow.
It seems they’re giving you the evil eye.

Certain times they are white
and they run
and they take the form of the egret,
or of the ram
or of some other beast.
But this they see better, the children,
who play at running after them for so many meters.

Certain times they warn you with noise
before arriving
and the earth trembles
and the animals stay still.
Certain times they warn you with noise.

They come,
they go,
they return,
and maybe they stop for so many days
that you no longer see the sun or the stars,
and you don’t seem to know any more
the place where you are.

They go,
they come.
For every true one
a thousand are fake
and were put there between us and the sky
to leave us with only a longing for rain.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


It took six years after the tremendous success of Creuza de mä for De André to release his next studio album, Le nuvole (The Clouds). In the meantime, he and Mauro Pagani explored several avenues of musical collaboration which did not come to fruition. De André had this to say about Le nuvole: "I realized that people are just pissed off, and since Le nuvole is a symbol of this dissatisfaction, the transference, the intermediary for this general discontent, I would say that the album was welcomed almost as a banner, like an emblem of the anger in the face of a nation that is going to the dogs, and certainly not through any fault of the citizens." Additionally, Mauro Pagani said the album was a fantastic description of Italy in the 1980s, with parallels to Europe in the early 1800s: "Italy in the early 1980s was like Europe in 1815: the Congress of Vienna, the fall of the Napoleonic empire, the sharing of the goods among the winning powers, social classes built on wealth instead of aristocracy, a society of fake Christianity . . ." The title of and inspiration for the album came from the comedy of the same name by Aristophanes, whom De André greatly admired.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Friday, November 7, 2014

Le nuvole:
    Ottocento - The Eighteen Hundreds

Cantami di questo tempo
l'astio e il malcontento
di chi è sottovento
e non vuol sentir l'odore
di questo motor
che ci porta avanti
quasi tutti quanti
maschi , femmine e cantanti
su un tappeto di contanti
nel cielo blu

Figlia della mia famiglia
sei la meraviglia
già matura e ancora pura
come la verdura di papà

Figlio bello e audace
bronzo di Versace
figlio sempre più capace
di giocare in borsa
di stuprare in corsa e tu
moglie dalle larghe maglie
dalle molte voglie
esperta di anticaglie
scatole d'argento ti regalerò

Ottocento
Novecento
Millecinquecento scatole d'argento
Fine Settecento ti regalerò

Quanti pezzi di ricambio
quante meraviglie
quanti articoli di scambio
quante belle figlie da sposar
e quante belle valvole e pistoni
fegati e polmoni
e quante belle biglie a rotolar
e quante belle triglie nel mar

Figlio figlio
povero figlio
eri bello bianco e vermiglio
quale intruglio ti ha perduto nel Naviglio
figlio figlio
unico sbaglio
annegato come un coniglio
per ferirmi , pugnalarmi nell'orgoglio
a me a me
che ti trattavo come un figlio
povero me
domani andrà meglio

Eine kleine pinzimonie
wunder matrimonie
krauten und erbeeren
und patellen und arsellen
fischen Zanzibar
und einige krapfen
früer vor schlafen
und erwachen mit der walzer
und die Alka-Seltzer für
dimenticar

Quanti pezzi di ricambio
quante meraviglie
quanti articoli di scambio
quante belle figlie da giocar
e quante belle valvole e pistoni
fegati e polmoni
e quante belle biglie a rotolar
e quante belle triglie nel mar.

Ottocento © 1990 Fabrizio De André/Mauro Pagani

In "Ottocento," De André sings in the style of opera buffa and the song ends with Tyrolean yodeling, the idea being to describe 20th century society in 19th century style. He explains that "it's a style of singing falsely cultured, an approach suggested to me by the pomposity of a character who, more than a man, is a vacuum cleaner: he breathes in sweet sentiments, affections, vital organs and objects in front of him to which he displays a single mental attitude: the possibility of buying and selling them. . . . Here is painted a portrait of the bourgeoisie, in the exact moment of its affirmation of power: the world of the protagonist is dominated by money and by huge quantities of merchandise." The phrase "bronze of Versace" calls to mind the Riace Bronzes, a nice contrast between the superficial and fleeting beauty that pop culture craves and the more enduring beauty of past treasures of art.




A live excerpt of "Ottocento" from a 1991 tour starts at 2:40.
Sing to me about this time,
the hatred and the discontent
of whoever is downwind
and doesn’t want to smell the odor
of this engine
that carries us forward,
almost everyone -
males, females and singers -
on a carpet of cash
in the blue sky.

Daughter of my family,
you are a marvel,
already mature and still pure
like papa’s vegetables.

Bold and handsome son,
bronze of Versace,
son ever more capable
of playing in the markets,
of raping while in motion, and you,
wife of big sweaters,
of many desires,
expert in old junk,
silver boxes I will give to you.

The eighteen hundreds,
the nineteen hundreds,
fifteen hundred fine silver boxes
of the late seventeen hundreds I'll give to you.

How many spare parts,
how many marvels,
how many articles of exchange,
how many beautiful daughters to marry,
and how many good valves and pistons,
livers and lungs!
And how many pretty marbles to roll,
and how many fine mullet fish in the sea!

Son, son,
poor son,
you were handsome white and vermilion.
Which shady business lost you in the waterway?
Son, son,
only mistake,
drowned like a rabbit
to hurt me, to stab my pride,
to me, to me,
who treated you like a son,
poor me,
tomorrow will go better.

A little pinzimonio,
wonderful marriage,
sauerkraut and strawberries
and limpets and clams,
Zanzibar fishes
and some donut
early before sleeping,
and waking up with the waltz
and the Alka-Seltzer for
forgetting.

How many replacement parts,
how many marvels,
how many articles of exchange,
how many beautiful daughters for playing,
and how many good valves and pistons,
livers and lungs!
And how many pretty marbles to roll,
and how many fine mullet fish in the sea!

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


It took six years after the tremendous success of Creuza de mä for De André to release his next studio album, Le nuvole (The Clouds). In the meantime, he and Mauro Pagani explored several avenues of musical collaboration which did not come to fruition. De André had this to say about Le nuvole: "I realized that people are just pissed off, and since Le nuvole is a symbol of this dissatisfaction, the transference, the intermediary for this general discontent, I would say that the album was welcomed almost as a banner, like an emblem of the anger in the face of a nation that is going to the dogs, and certainly not through any fault of the citizens." Additionally, Mauro Pagani said the album was a fantastic description of Italy in the 1980s, with parallels to Europe in the early 1800s: "Italy in the early 1980s was like Europe in 1815: the Congress of Vienna, the fall of the Napoleonic empire, the sharing of the goods among the winning powers, social classes built on wealth instead of aristocracy, a society of fake Christianity . . ." The title of and inspiration for the album came from the comedy of the same name by Aristophanes, whom De André greatly admired.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Le nuvole:
    Don Raffaè

Io mi chiamo Pasquale Cafiero
e son brigadiere del carcere oinè
io mi chiamo Cafiero Pasquale
sto a Poggio Reale dal '53

e al centesimo catenaccio
alla sera mi sento uno straccio
per fortuna che al braccio speciale
c'è un uomo geniale che parla co' me

Tutto il giorno con quattro infamoni
briganti, papponi, cornuti e lacchè
tutte l'ore cò 'sta fetenzia
che sputa minaccia e s'à piglia cò me

ma alla fine m'assetto papale
mi sbottono e mi leggo 'o giornale
mi consiglio con don Raffae'
mi spiega che penso e bevimm'ò cafè

A che bell'ò cafè
pure in carcere 'o sanno fa
co' à ricetta ch'à Ciccirinella
compagno di cella
ci ha dato mammà

Prima pagina venti notizie
ventuno ingiustizie e lo Stato che fa
si costerna, s'indigna, s'impegna
poi getta la spugna con gran dignità
mi scervello e mi asciugo la fronte
per fortuna c'è chi mi risponde
a quell'uomo sceltissimo immenso
io chiedo consenso a don Raffaè

Un galantuomo che tiene sei figli
ha chiesto una casa e ci danno consigli
mentre 'o assessore che Dio lo perdoni
'ndrento a 'e roullotte ci tiene i visoni
voi vi basta una mossa una voce
c'ha 'sto Cristo ci levano 'a croce
con rispetto s'è fatto le tre
volite 'a spremuta o volite 'o cafè

A che bell'ò cafè
pure in carcere 'o sanno fa
co' à ricetta ch'à Ciccirinella
compagno di cella
ci ha dato mammà

A che bell'ò cafè
pure in carcere 'o sanno fa
co' à ricetta ch'à Ciccirinella
compagno di cella
preciso a mammà

Qui ci stà l'inflazione, la svalutazione
e la borsa ce l'ha chi ce l'ha
io non tengo compendio che chillo stipendio
e un ambo se sogno 'a papà
aggiungete mia figlia Innocenza
vuo' marito non tiene pazienza
non chiedo la grazia pe' me
vi faccio la barba o la fate da sé

Voi tenete un cappotto cammello
che al maxi processo eravate 'o chiù bello
un vestito gessato marrone
così ci è sembrato alla televisione
pe' 'ste nozze vi prego Eccellenza
mi prestasse pe' fare presenza
io già tengo le scarpe e 'o gillè
gradite 'o Campari o volite 'o cafè

A che bell'ò cafè
pure in carcere 'o sanno fa
co' à ricetta ch'à Ciccirinella
compagno di cella
ci ha dato mammà

A che bell'ò cafè
pure in carcere 'o sanno fa
co' à ricetta ch'à Ciccirinella
compagno di cella
preciso a mamma

Qui non c'è più decoro le carceri d'oro
ma chi l'ha mai viste chissà
chiste so' fatiscienti pe' chisto i fetienti
se tengono l'immunità

don Raffaè voi politicamente
io ve lo giuro sarebbe 'no santo
ma 'ca dinto voi state a pagà
e fora chiss'atre se stanno a spassà

A proposito tengo 'no frate
che da quindici anni sta disoccupato
chill'ha fatto cinquanta concorsi
novanta domande e duecento ricorsi
voi che date conforto e lavoro
Eminenza vi bacio v'imploro
chillo duorme co' mamma e co' me
che crema d'Arabia ch'è chisto cafè

Don Raffaè © 1990 Fabrizio De André/Mauro Pagani/Massimo Bubola

"Don Raffaè" is based on the Italian crime boss Raffaele Cutolo, who has spent most of his life in prisons since 1963. Through his charisma and relational skills he was able to build and control a crime organization from within prison, and was also able to lead a remarkably comfortable life, complete with a personal chef to supply him his daily meals of lobster and wine. The chorus makes reference to Domenico Modugno's 1958 paean to coffee, "'O ccafe'", and to the importance of coffee in the cultural life of Naples.



My name is Pasquale Cafiero
and I’m the prison C.O. Sergeant.
My name is Cafiero Pasquale,
I’ve been at Poggio Reale since ’53.

And by the hundredth deadbolt
of the evening I feel like a wet rag,
lucky that in the special wing
there’s a brilliant man who speaks with me.

All day long with four villains –
robbers, pimps, bastards and lackeys –
all the hours with this rottenness
that spews threats and that rags on me.

But in the end I seat myself pope-like,
I unbutton, and read me the paper.
I consult with don Raffaè.
He explains my thinking, and we drink coffee.

Ah what great coffee –
even in jail they know how to make it,
with the recipe that
cellmate Ciccirinella’s mama
gave to him.

Front page, twenty news items,
twenty-one injustices, and what does the State do?
It’s dismayed, it’s indignant, it makes a pledge,
then it throws in the towel with great dignity.
I puzzle over it, dry my forehead,
luckily there is one who answers me.
Of that man, immense and most refined,
of don Raffaè I ask for his consensus.

A gentleman, who has six children,
requested a house and they gave advice,
while the alderman, may God pardon him,
raises minks inside these trailers.
From you, one move, one voice is enough,
for this Christ they take away the cross.
With respect, it’s three o'clock,
do you want the juice or do you want the coffee?

Ah what great coffee –
even in jail they know how to make it,
with the recipe that
cellmate Ciccirinella's mama
gave to him.

Ah what great coffee –
even in jail they know how to make it,
with the recipe of
cellmate Ciccirinella,
exactly like mama’s.

Here there’s inflation, devaluation,
and the stock market has it, whoever has it,
I don’t hold a sum save for that salary of mine
and two lottery numbers if I dream of papa.
Add my daughter Innocenza.
She wants a husband, she has no patience.
I don’t beg for mercy for myself.
Do I shave you or do you do it by yourself?

You hold a camel hair coat
that at the Maxi Trial you were the most handsome,
a brown pinstripe suit,
so it seemed on TV.
For this wedding, I pray of you, your Excellence,
lend it to me to make a good appearance.
I already have the shoes and the vest,
do you like the Campari or do you want the coffee?

Ah what great coffee –
even in jail they know how to make it,
with the recipe that
cellmate Ciccirinella’s mama
gave to him.

Ah what great coffee –
even in jail they know how to make it,
with the recipe of
cellmate Ciccirinella,
exactly like mama’s.

Here there’s no more decorum, the prisons of gold -
but who ever saw them, who knows?
These are crumbling, for this reason the bastards
keep their immunity.

Don Raffaè – you, politically,
I swear it, you'd be a saint.
But here inside you have to pay,
and outside these others are amusing themselves.

Speaking of which, I have a brother
who for fifteen years has been unemployed.
That one’s done fifty competitive exams,
ninety applications and two hundred appeals.
You who give comfort and work,
Your Eminence I kiss you, I implore you:
that one sleeps with mama and with me.
What cream of Arabia this coffee is!

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


It took six years after the tremendous success of Creuza de mä for De André to release his next studio album, Le nuvole (The Clouds). In the meantime, he and Mauro Pagani explored several avenues of musical collaboration which did not come to fruition. De André had this to say about Le nuvole: "I realized that people are just pissed off, and since Le nuvole is a symbol of this dissatisfaction, the transference, the intermediary for this general discontent, I would say that the album was welcomed almost as a banner, like an emblem of the anger in the face of a nation that is going to the dogs, and certainly not through any fault of the citizens." Additionally, Mauro Pagani said the album was a fantastic description of Italy in the 1980s, with parallels to Europe in the early 1800s: "Italy in the early 1980s was like Europe in 1815: the Congress of Vienna, the fall of the Napoleonic empire, the sharing of the goods among the winning powers, social classes built on wealth instead of aristocracy, a society of fake Christianity . . ." The title of and inspiration for the album came from the comedy of the same name by Aristophanes, whom De André greatly admired.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Le nuvole:
    La domenica delle salme - Corpse Sunday

Tentò la fuga in tram
verso le sei del mattino
dalla bottiglia di orzata
dove galleggia Milano

non fu difficile seguirlo
il poeta della Baggina
la sua anima accesa
mandava luce di lampadina

gli incendiarono il letto
sulla strada di Trento
riuscì a salvarsi dalla sua barba
un pettirosso da combattimento

I Polacchi non morirono subito
e inginocchiati agli ultimi semafori
rifacevano il trucco alle troie di regime
lanciate verso il mare

i trafficanti di saponette
mettevano pancia verso est
chi si convertiva nel novanta
ne era dispensato nel novantuno

la scimmia del quarto Reich
ballava la polka sopra il muro
e mentre si arrampicava
le abbiamo visto tutto il culo

la piramide di Cheope
volle essere ricostruita in quel giorno di festa
masso per masso schiavo per schiavo
comunista per comunista

La domenica delle salme
non si udirono fucilate
il gas esilarante
presidiava le strade
la domenica delle salme
si portò via tutti i pensieri
e le regine del ''tua culpa''
affollarono i parrucchieri

Nell'assolata galera patria
il secondo secondino
disse a ''Baffi di Sego'' che era il primo
-- si può fare domani sul far del mattino –

e furono inviati messi
fanti cavalli cani ed un somaro
ad annunciare l'amputazione della gamba
di Renato Curcio il carbonaro

il ministro dei temporali
in un tripudio di tromboni
auspicava democrazia
con la tovaglia sulle mani e le mani sui coglioni

-- voglio vivere in una città
dove all'ora dell'aperitivo
non ci siano spargimenti di sangue
o di detersivo –

a tarda sera
io e il mio illustre cugino De Andrade
eravamo gli ultimi cittadini liberi
di questa famosa città civile
perché avevamo un cannone nel cortile
un cannone nel cortile

La domenica delle salme
nessuno si fece male
tutti a seguire il feretro
del defunto ideale
la domenica delle salme
si sentiva cantare
-quant'è bella giovinezza
non vogliamo più invecchiare –

Gli ultimi viandanti
si ritirarono nelle catacombe
accesero la televisione e ci guardarono cantare
per una mezz'oretta poi ci mandarono a cagare

-- voi che avete cantato sui trampoli e in ginocchio
coi pianoforti a tracolla vestiti da Pinocchio
voi che avete cantato
per i longobardi e per i centralisti
per l'Amazzonia e per la pecunia
nei palastilisti e dai padri Maristi

voi avevate voci potenti
lingue allenate a battere il tamburo
voi avevate voci potenti
adatte per il vaffanculo —

La domenica delle salme
gli addetti alla nostalgia
accompagnarono tra i flauti
il cadavere di Utopia
la domenica delle salme
fu una domenica come tante
il giorno dopo c'erano i segni
di una pace terrificante

mentre il cuore d'Italia
da Palermo ad Aosta
si gonfiava in un coro
di vibrante protesta

La domenica delle salme © 1990 Fabrizio De André/Mauro Pagani

"La domenica delle salme" is one of De André's most political songs, full of references not easily discernible. The second verse refers to a Milan retirement home resident who was discovered dead under mysterious circumstances. The third verse may refer to a series of murders by a neo-Nazi duo who tagged themselves as Ludwig. The fourth verse refers to the Polish refugees who came to Italy after the fall of the Soviet Union and who worked the streets cleaning car windows (i.e., redoing the makeup of the capitalists heading off to the beach). The fifth verse refers to businessmen looking to profit from the opening of the countries of the former Soviet Union, and the sixth verse refers to the neo-Nazism that subsequently raised its head. The seventh verse may refer to the need for another visible symbol for members of the left and the right to use to close their ranks after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The eighth verse depicts a state that controls its people not with guns but with a false sense of happiness. Later in the song, Renato Curcio was a founder of the radical group Red Brigades and is referred to as a "carbonaro," a member of the Carboneria, secret revolutionary societies in 19th century Italy. Curcio did not in real life have his leg amputated; that reference is to an event in a 1968 television production of an 1832 autobiographical novel, My Prisons, by Sylvio Pellico. The amputation was done without anesthesia, and afterwards the amputee gave the surgeon a rose. There's a reference to the Brazilian poet Oswald De Andrade, whose work De André admired for its anti-conformism and its sense of irony and sarcasm. You see references to the distant past (the Lombards), to a Roman Catholic religious institute (Society of Mary), to the death of communism and anarchism ("cadavers of Utopia"), and even to De André's tribe, singer/songwriters, who are cast as opportunists whose powerful voices have lost their relevance and whose message has devolved into a crude "fuck off!" In short, this song is a rich and mordant pastiche of images that create the picture of an Italy as a ridiculous tragedy where a coup d'etat of capitalism has resulted in a "terrifying peace." Note also how the title is a gruesome turn on Palm Sunday (La domenica delle palme), the celebration of which involves a procession of the faithful carrying palms. One can imagine instead a procession of the erstwhile foes of capitalism carrying the corpses of their vanquished brethren, yet ready to protest again.


He made a break for it on the tram
around six in the morning,
from the bottle of orgeat
where floats Milan.

It wasn’t difficult to follow him,
the poet of the Baggina.
His fired-up soul
sent out the glow of a light bulb.

They torched his bed
on the road to Trent.
He managed to save himself by the hair on his chin,
an attack robin.

The Poles didn’t die immediately
and, bowed over at the last traffic lights,
they redid the makeup on the whores of the regime
launching off towards the sea.

Traffickers of soap bars
fattened themselves to the east.
Whoever converted in ‘90
was excused in ’91.

The ape of the fourth Reich
danced the polka on top of the Wall,
and while it clambered up
we saw its entire bare ass.

The pyramid of Cheops
wanted to be rebuilt on that day of celebration,
boulder by boulder, slave by slave,
Communist by Communist.

Corpse Sunday –
no gun shots were heard,
laughing gas
was defending the streets.
Corpse Sunday
carried away all thoughts,
and the queens of “it's your fault”
filled the hair salons.

In the sun-drenched state prison,
the second prison guard
said to “Greasy Mustache,” who was the first,
“It can be done tomorrow at daybreak.”

And emissaries were dispatched,
infantrymen, horses, dogs and a donkey,
to announce the amputation of the leg
of Renato Curcio, the Carboneria member.

The Minister of Storms,
in an exultation of trombones,
wished for democracy
with a napkin on his hands and his hands on his balls.

“I want to live in a city
where when it’s time for aperitifs
there’s no shedding of blood
or of detergent.”

Late in the evening,
I and my distinguished cousin De Andrade
were the last free citizens
of this famous civilian city,
because we had a cannon in the courtyard,
a cannon in the courtyard.

Corpse Sunday –
no one got hurt,
everyone following the casket
of the fallen ideal.
Corpse Sunday –
one felt like singing
“How beautiful youth is,
we don’t want to get older anymore.”

The last wayfarers
retreated to the catacombs.
They turned the TV on and watched us singing
for half an hour, then they sent us off to shit.

“You who have sung on stilts and on bended knee
with pianos over your shoulders, dressed as Pinocchio,
you who have sung
for the Lombards and for the Centrists,
for the Amazon and for the money,
in corporate-named arenas and Marist Fathers' places,

you had powerful voices,
tongues trained to beat the drum.
You had powerful voices
well-suited for the ‘Fuck off!’”

Corpse Sunday –
the people in charge of nostalgia
accompanied, amid the flutes,
Utopia's cadaver.
Corpse Sunday
was a Sunday like so many others.
The day after, there were signs
of a terrifying peace

while the heart of Italy
from Palermo to Aosta
swelled in a chorus
of quivering protest.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


It took six years after the tremendous success of Creuza de mä for De André to release his next studio album, Le nuvole (The Clouds). In the meantime, he and Mauro Pagani explored several avenues of musical collaboration which did not come to fruition. De André had this to say about Le nuvole: "I realized that people are just pissed off, and since Le nuvole is a symbol of this dissatisfaction, the transference, the intermediary for this general discontent, I would say that the album was welcomed almost as a banner, like an emblem of the anger in the face of a nation that is going to the dogs, and certainly not through any fault of the citizens." Additionally, Mauro Pagani said the album was a fantastic description of Italy in the 1980s, with parallels to Europe in the early 1800s: "Italy in the early 1980s was like Europe in 1815: the Congress of Vienna, the fall of the Napoleonic empire, the sharing of the goods among the winning powers, social classes built on wealth instead of aristocracy, a society of fake Christianity . . ." The title of and inspiration for the album came from the comedy of the same name by Aristophanes, whom De André greatly admired.


Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Le nuvole:
    Mègu megùn - Doctor, Doctor

E mi e mi e mi
anà anà
e a l'aia sciurtì
a suà suà
e ou coèu ou coèu ou coèu
da rebellà
fin a piggià piggià
ou trèn ou trèn
   E io e io e io
   andare andare
   e uscire all'aria
   sudare sudare
   e il cuore il cuore il cuore
   da trascinare
   fino a prendere a prendere
   il treno il treno

E 'nta galleria
gentè 'a l'intra au scùu
sciòrte amarutia
loèugu de 'n spesià
e 'ntu strèitu t'aguèitan
te dumàndan chi t'è
a sustansa e u mestee
che pe liatri viagià nu l'è
   E nella galleria
   la gente entra al buio
   esce ammalata
   cesso d' un farmacista
   e nello stretto ti guardano
   ti domandano chi sei
   il patrimonio e il lavoro
   che per loro non è viaggiare

Poi te tucca un purtè lepegusu
e una stansia luvega
e 'nte l'àtra stànsia
è bagàsce a dà ou menù
e ti cu'na quàe che nu ti voèu
a tià a bibbia 'nta miàgia
serrà a ciàve ànche ou barcùn
e arensenite sùrvia ou coèu
   Poi ti tocca un portiere viscido
   e una stanza umida e nell'altra stanza
   le bagasce a dare il menù
   e tu con una voglia che non vuoi
   a tirare la Bibbia nel muro
   chiudere a chiave anche la finestra
   e a ciambellarti sopra il cuore

Uh mègu mègu mègu mè megùn
Uh chin-a chin-a zù da ou caregùn
   Uh medico medico medico mio medicone
   Uh vieni vieni giù dal seggiolone


'Na carèga dùa
nèsciu de ' n turtà
'na fainà ch'a sùa
e a ghe manca'a sa
tùtti sùssa rèsca
da ou xàtta in zù
se ti gii 'a tèsta
ti te vèddi ou cù
   Una sedia dura
   scemo di un tortaio
   una farinata che suda
   e le manca il sale
   tutti succhiatori di lische
   dal pappone il giù
   se giri la testa
   ti vedi il culo

e a stà foèa gh'è ou repentin
ch'a te tùcche 'na pasciùn
pe 'na faccia da madònna
ch'a te sposta ou ghirindùn
ùn amù mai in esclusiva
sempre cun quarcòsa da pagà
na scignurin-a che sùttu à cùa
a gh'a ou gàrbu da scignùa
   e a star fuori c'è il rischio
   che ti tocchi una passione
   per una faccia da Madonna
   che ti sposta il comò
   un amore mai in esclusiva
   sempre con qualcosa da pagare
   una signorina che sotto la coda
   ha il buco da signora

Uh mègu mègu mègu mè megùn
Uh chin-a chin-a zù da ou caregùn
Uh che belin de 'n nolu che ti me faièsci fa
Uh ch'a sùn de piggià de l'aia se va a l'uspià
   Uh medico medico medico mio medicone
   Uh vieni vieni giù dal seggiolone
   Uh che cazzo di contratto mi faresti fare
   Uh che a forza di prendere aria si va all'ospedale

E mi e mi e mi
nu anà nu anà
stà chi stà chi stà chi
durmì durmì
E mi e mi e mi
nu anà nu anà
stà chi stà chi stà chi
asùnàme
   E io e io e io
   non andare non andare
   stare qui stare qui stare qui
   dormire dormire
   e io e io e io
   non andare non andare
   stare qui stare qui stare qui
   sognare


Uh mègu mègu mègu mè megùn
Uh chin-a chin-a zù da ou caregùn
   Uh medico medico medico mio medicone
   Uh vieni vieni giù dal seggiolone


Mègu megùn © 1990 Fabrizio De André/Ivano Fossati

"Mègu megùn" is, according to De André, the story of a guy who lived as a shut-in for years, without human contact and with no experience of the outside world. Feeling bad, he decides to go to a psychologist, who quickly assesses the problem and tells his patient he needs to go out into the world, visit places, meet people, get some air into his lungs and his brain. He follows the advice but after a while realizes that it's worse than before and he decides to return to his isolated life where, safe between the walls of his house, he can do two things - sleep and dream.











And I and I and I,
going, going
and heading outdoors
sweating, sweating,
and the heart the heart the heart
to drag along
until taking, taking
the train, the train.









And in the gallery
people enter into the darkness,
go back out sick –
pigsty of a pharmacist –
and in the straits they watch you,
they ask you who you are,
your heritage and your work,
which for them isn't traveling.









Then a smarmy doorman touches you,
and a humid room, and in the other room
the sluts for giving the menu,
and you with a desire you don’t want,
to throw the Bible at the wall,
to lock up the window, even,
and to curl up over the heart.



Oh doctor, doctor, doctor, my doctor.
Oh come, come down from the high chair.









A hard chair,
fool of a cake maker,
a flatbread that sweats
and lacks salt,
all bone suckers
from pimps on down.
If you turn your head around
you’ll see your ass.









And staying outside there’s the risk
that you are touched by a passion
for a Madonna face
who moves your chest of drawers,
a love never exclusive,
always with something to pay for,
a young lady who under the tail
has the hole of an older one.





Oh doctor, doctor, doctor, my doctor.
Oh come, come down from the high chair.
Oh what bullshit contract would you make me do?
Oh by getting some fresh air one goes to the hospital.









And I and I and I,
not going, not going,
staying here, staying here, staying here,
sleeping, sleeping.
And I and I and I,
not going, not going,
staying here, staying here, staying here,
dreaming.



Oh doctor, doctor, doctor, my doctor.
Oh come, come down from the high chair.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


It took six years after the tremendous success of Creuza de mä for De André to release his next studio album, Le nuvole (The Clouds). In the meantime, he and Mauro Pagani explored several avenues of musical collaboration which did not come to fruition. De André had this to say about Le nuvole: "I realized that people are just pissed off, and since Le nuvole is a symbol of this dissatisfaction, the transference, the intermediary for this general discontent, I would say that the album was welcomed almost as a banner, like an emblem of the anger in the face of a nation that is going to the dogs, and certainly not through any fault of the citizens." Additionally, Mauro Pagani said the album was a fantastic description of Italy in the 1980s, with parallels to Europe in the early 1800s: "Italy in the early 1980s was like Europe in 1815: the Congress of Vienna, the fall of the Napoleonic empire, the sharing of the goods among the winning powers, social classes built on wealth instead of aristocracy, a society of fake Christianity . . ." The title of and inspiration for the album came from the comedy of the same name by Aristophanes, whom De André greatly admired.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Le Nuvole:
    La nova gelosia - The New Blinds

Fenesta co' 'sta nova gelosia
tutta lucente de centrella d’oro
tu m’annasconne Nennerella bella mia
lassamela vedè sinnò me moro
  Finestra con questa nuova persiana
  tutta lucente coi chiodini d’oro
  tu me nascondi la mia bella Nennarella
  lasciamela vedere se no muoio


Fenesta co' 'sta nova gelosia
tutta lucente de centrella d’oro
  Finestra con questa nuova persiana
  tutta lucente coi chiodini d’oro


Fenesta co' 'sta nova gelosia
tutta lucente de centrella d’oro
tu m’annasconne Nennerella bella mia
lassamela vedè sinnò me moro
lassamela vedè sinnò me moro
  Finestra con questa nuova persiana
  tutta lucente coi chiodini d’oro
  tu me nascondi la mia bella Nennarella
  lasciamela vedere se no muoio
  lasciamela vedere se no muoio


La nova gelosia arrangement © 1990 Fabrizio De André

"La nova gelosia" is a Neapolitan song from the 18th century by an unknown author. When De André heard the song as done by Roberto Murolo, he became enthralled with it and wanted to include it on this album. The tradition of Neapolitan songs has its roots in the 13th century, and came into full bloom in the period from 1830-1950, when an annual song competition would honor the best song each year.







Window with these new blinds,
all radiant with tacks of gold -
you hide from me my beautiful Nennarella.
Let me see her; if not, I will die.



Window with these new blinds,
all radiant with tacks of gold -






Window with these new blinds,
all radiant with tacks of gold -
you hide from me my beautiful Nennarella.
Let me see her; if not, I will die.
Let me see her; if not, I will die.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


It took six years after the tremendous success of Creuza de mä for De André to release his next studio album, Le nuvole (The Clouds). In the meantime, he and Mauro Pagani explored several avenues of musical collaboration which did not come to fruition. De André had this to say about Le nuvole: "I realized that people are just pissed off, and since Le nuvole is a symbol of this dissatisfaction, the transference, the intermediary for this general discontent, I would say that the album was welcomed almost as a banner, like an emblem of the anger in the face of a nation that is going to the dogs, and certainly not through any fault of the citizens." Additionally, Mauro Pagani said the album was a fantastic description of Italy in the 1980s, with parallels to Europe in the early 1800s: "Italy in the early 1980s was like Europe in 1815: the Congress of Vienna, the fall of the Napoleonic empire, the sharing of the goods among the winning powers, social classes built on wealth instead of aristocracy, a society of fake Christianity . . ." The title of and inspiration for the album came from the comedy of the same name by Aristophanes, whom De André greatly admired.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Le nuvole:
    'A çimma - Boiled Stuffed Veal

Ti t'adesciàe 'nsce l'èndegu du matin
ch'à luxe a l'à 'n pè 'n tera e l'àtru in mà
ti t'ammiàe a ou spègiu de 'n tiànnin
ou cè s'ammia a ou spègiu da ruzà
   Ti sveglierai sull'indaco del mattino
   quando la luce ha un piede in terra
   e l' altro in mare
   ti guarderai allo specchio di un tegamino
   il cielo si guarda allo specchio della rugiada


ti mettiâe ou brûgu rèdennu'nte 'n cantùn
che se d'à cappa a sgùggia 'n cuxin-a stria
a xeùa de cuntà 'e pàgge che ghe sùn
'a cimma a l'è za pinn-a a l'è za cùxia
   metterai la scopa di saggina usata in un angolo
  che se dalla cappa scivola in cucina la strega
  a forza di contare le paglie che ci sono
  la cima è già piena è già cucita


Cè serèn tèra scùa
carne tènia nu fàte nèigra
nu turnà dùa
   Cielo sereno terra scura
   carne tenera non diventare nera
   non ritornare dura


Bell'oueggè strapunta de tùttu bun
prima de battezàlu 'ntou prebuggiun
cun dui aguggiuìn dritu 'n pùnta de pè
da sùrvia 'n zù fitu ti 'a punziggè
   Bel guanciale materasso di ogni ben di Dio
   prima di battezzarla nelle erbe aromatiche
   con due grossi aghi dritti in punta di piedi
   da sopra a sotto svelto la pungerai


àia de lùn-a vègia de ciaèu de nègia
ch'ou cègu ou pèrde 'a tèsta l'àse ou sentè
oudù de mà misciòu de pèrsa lègia
cos'àtru fa cos'àtru dàghe a ou cè
   aria di luna vecchia di chiarore di nebbia
   che il chierico perde la testa e l'asino il sentiero
   odore di mare mescolato a maggiorana leggera
   cos'altro fare cos'altro dare al cielo


Cè serèn tèra scùa
carne tènia nu fàte nèigra
nu turnà dùa
e 'nt'ou nùme de Maria
tùtti diài da sta pùgnatta
anène via
   Cielo sereno terra scura
   carne tenera non diventare nera
   non ritornare dura
   e nel nome di Maria
   tutti i diavoli da questa pentola
   andate via


Poi vegnan a pigiàtela i càmè
te lascian tùttu ou fùmmu d'ou toèu mestè
tucca a ou fantin à prima coutelà
mangè mangè nu sèi chi ve mangià
   Poi vengono a prendertela i camerieri
   ti lasciano tutto il fumo del tuo mestiere
   tocca allo scapolo la prima coltellata
   mangiate mangiate non sapete chi vi manger


Cè serèn tèra scùa
carne tènia nu fàte nèigra
nu turnà dùa
e 'nt'ou nùme de Maria
tùtti diài da sta pùgnatta
anène via.
   Cielo sereno terra scura
   carne tenera non diventare nera
   non ritornare dura
   e nel nome di Maria
   tutti i diavoli da questa pentola
   andate via


A çimma © 1990 Fabrizio De André/Ivano Fossati/Mauro Pagani

In "A çimma," a cook explains how a classic Genovese dish is made. A piece of meat usually taken from the stomach or breast of the young calf is folded and sewn on three sides to make a pocket that is then filled with many ingredients: innards, peas, eggs, cheese, spices, etc. The final side is sewn shut and the meat is boiled carefully in a broth for several hours, punctured with a needle from time to time to prevent the rupturing of the pocket as the ingredients expand. Traditionally, one must take care to prevent trouble from witches and devils who might be attracted by the intoxicating smells. And once done, the tradition is for the servants to remove the glorious cima, leaving the cook out of the picture with only the steam from the now empty pot. Also traditionally, a bachelor makes the first cut. The cook, with a touch of bitterness, tells everyone to eat because you never know who will be out to eat you.







You will wake up in the indigo of morning
when the light has one foot on land
and the other in the sea.
You'll look at yourself in the mirror of a frying pan,
the sky looks at itself in the mirror of rust.





You will put the well-used sorghum broom in a corner
so that, if from the stove hood a witch slips into the kitchen
due to her counting the straws that are there,
the veal is already stuffed and already sewn.




Clear sky, dark earth,
tender meat don’t become black,
don’t come out tough.





Beautiful pillow, mattress of every good of God,
before baptizing it in the aromatic herbs,
with two huge straight needles, on tiptoe,
from above to below quick you’ll prick it.





Air of full moon, of glimmer of fog,
when the clergyman loses his head and the donkey the path,
smell of the sea mixed with light marjoram,
what else to make, what else to give to heaven?







Clear sky, dark earth,
tender meat don’t become black,
don’t come out tough,
and in the name of Maria
all you devils from this pot
go away.





Then the house servants come to take it out for you,
they leave to you all the steam of your expertise.
It’s the bachelor’s turn, the first cut -
eat, eat, you don’t know who will eat you.







Clear sky, dark earth,
tender meat don’t become black,
don’t come out tough,
and in the name of Maria
all you devils from this pot
go away.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


It took six years after the tremendous success of Creuza de mä for De André to release his next studio album, Le nuvole (The Clouds). In the meantime, he and Mauro Pagani explored several avenues of musical collaboration which did not come to fruition. De André had this to say about Le nuvole: "I realized that people are just pissed off, and since Le nuvole is a symbol of this dissatisfaction, the transference, the intermediary for this general discontent, I would say that the album was welcomed almost as a banner, like an emblem of the anger in the face of a nation that is going to the dogs, and certainly not through any fault of the citizens." Additionally, Mauro Pagani said the album was a fantastic description of Italy in the 1980s, with parallels to Europe in the early 1800s: "Italy in the early 1980s was like Europe in 1815: the Congress of Vienna, the fall of the Napoleonic empire, the sharing of the goods among the winning powers, social classes built on wealth instead of aristocracy, a society of fake Christianity . . ." The title of and inspiration for the album came from the comedy of the same name by Aristophanes, whom De André greatly admired.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Le Nuvole:
    Monti di Mola - Mountains of Mola

In li Monti di Mola la manzana
un'aina musteddina era pascendi
in li Monti di Mola la manzana
un cioano vantarricciu e moru era sfraschendi
     Sui Monti di Mola la mattina presto
     un'asina dal mantello chiaro stava pascolando
     sui Monti di Mola la mattina presto
     un giovane bruno e aitante stava tagliando rami


e l'occhi s'intuppesini cilchendi ea ea ea ea
e l'ea sguttesida li muccichili cù li bae ae ae
     e gli occhi si incontrarono mentre cercavano acqua
     e l'acqua sgocciolò dai musi
     insieme alle bave


e l'occhi la burricca aia di lu mare
e a iddu da le tive escia lu Maestrale
e idda si tunchià abbeddulata ea ea ea ea
iddu le rispundia linghitontu ae ae ae ae
     e l'asina aveva gli occhi color del mare
     e a lui dalle narici usciva il Maestrale
     e lei ragliava incantata ea ea ea ea
     lui le rispondeva pronunciando male ae ae ae ae


- Oh bedda mea l'aina luna
la bedda mea capitale di lana
oh bedda mea bianca foltuna –
     Oh bella mia l'asina luna
     la bella mia cuscino di lana
     O bella mia bianca fortuna-


- Oh beddu meu l'occhi mi bruxi
lu beddu meu carrasciale di baxi
oh beddu meu lu core mi cuxi -
     O bello mio mi bruci gli occhi
     il mio bello carnevale di baci
     oh bello mio mi cuci il cuore –


Amori mannu di prima 'olta
l'aba si suggi tuttu lu meli di chista multa
Amori steddu di tutte l'ore
di petralana lu battadolu di chistu core
     Amore grande di prima volta
     l'ape ci succhia tutto il miele di questo mirto
     amore bambino di tutte le ore
     di muschio il battacchio di questo cuore


Ma nudda si po' fa nudda in Gaddura
che no lu ènini a sapi int'un'ora
e 'nfattu una 'ecchia infrasconata fea ea ea ea
piagnendi e figgiulendi si dicia cù li bae ae ae
     Ma nulla si può fare nulla in Gallura
     che non lo vengono a sapere in un'ora
     e sul posto una brutta vecchia
     nascosta tra le frasche
     piangendo e guardando
     diceva fra sé con le bave alla bocca


-Beata idda uai che bedd'omu
beata idda cioanu e moru
beata idda sola mi moru
     -Beata lei mamma mia che bell'uomo
     beata lei giovane e bruno
     beata lei io muoio sola


beata idda ià ma l'ammentu
beata idda più d'una 'olta
beata idda 'ezzaia tolta –
     beata lei me lo ricordo bene
     beata lei più d'una volta
     beata lei vecchiaia storta –


Amori mannu di prima 'olta
l'aba si suggi tuttu lu meli di chista multa
Amori steddu di tutte l'ore
di petralana lu battadolu di chistu core
     Amore grande di prima volta
     l'ape ci succhia tutto il miele di questo mirto
     amore bambino di tutte le ore
     di muschio il battacchio di questo cuore


E lu paese intreu s'agghindesi pa' lu coiu
lu parracu mattessi intresi in lu soiu
ma a cuiuassi no riscisini l'aina e l'omu
chè da li documenti escisini fratili in primu
     Il paese intero si agghindò per il matrimonio
     lo stesso parroco entrò nel suo vestito
     ma non riuscirono a sposarsi l'asina e l'uomo
     perché ai documenti risultarono cugini primi


e idda si tunchià abbeddulata ea ea ea ea
iddu le rispundia linghitontu ae ae ae ae.
     e lei ragliava incantata ea ea ea ea
     lui le rispondeva pronunciando male ae ae ae ae.


Monti di Mola © 1990 Fabrizio De André/Mauro Pagani

"Monti di Mola" takes place on the Emerald Coast of Sardinia. De André called the song a metaphor showing the impossibility of reaching one's dreams in a society that has become bureaucratic and standardized, where the imagination of the culture can't expand to accept "impossible dreams" that are on the verge of coming true. The song is in the Gallurese dialect.







In the Mountains of Mola, early morning,
a donkey mare, white of coat, was pasturing.
In the Mountains of Mola, early morning,
a sturdy young dark-haired man was cutting branches.



And their eyes met searching for water water water water,
and water dripped from their snouts
along with the drool ool ool.





And the donkey mare, she had eyes the color of the sea,
and to him from her nostrils issued the Northwest Wind
and she brayed, enchanted, ea ea ea ea.
He replied to her, mispronouncing, ae ae ae ae.




“Oh my beautiful one, moon donkey,
my beautiful one, cushion of wool,
oh my beautiful one, white fortune.”




“Oh my handsome one, you make my eyes sting,
oh my handsome one, carnival of kisses,
oh my handsome one, you sew up my heart.”





Deep love for the first time,
the bee sucks all the honey from this myrtle.
Young love of all the hours,
of moss is the clapper of this heart.





But no one can do anything in Gallura
that doesn’t come to be known in an hour,
and on the scene an ugly old woman
hidden in the branches,
crying and watching,
says to herself, foaming at the mouth,




“Lucky her, mamma mia, what a handsome man.
Lucky her, young and dark-haired.
Lucky her, I die alone.




"Lucky her, I remember it well.
Lucky her, more than one time.
Lucky her, twisted old age.”





Deep love for the first time,
the bee sucks all the honey from this myrtle.
Young love of all the hours,
of moss is the clapper of this heart.





The entire countryside got decked out for the wedding,
the same parish priest entered in his vestments.
But they didn’t manage to marry, the donkey and the man,
for in the documents they turned out to be first cousins.



And she brayed, enchanted, ea ea ea ea.
He responded to her, mispronouncing, ae ae ae ae.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


It took six years after the tremendous success of Creuza de mä for De André to release his next studio album, Le nuvole (The Clouds). In the meantime, he and Mauro Pagani explored several avenues of musical collaboration which did not come to fruition. De André had this to say about Le nuvole: "I realized that people are just pissed off, and since Le nuvole is a symbol of this dissatisfaction, the transference, the intermediary for this general discontent, I would say that the album was welcomed almost as a banner, like an emblem of the anger in the face of a nation that is going to the dogs, and certainly not through any fault of the citizens." Additionally, Mauro Pagani said the album was a fantastic description of Italy in the 1980s, with parallels to Europe in the early 1800s: "Italy in the early 1980s was like Europe in 1815: the Congress of Vienna, the fall of the Napoleonic empire, the sharing of the goods among the winning powers, social classes built on wealth instead of aristocracy, a society of fake Christianity . . ." The title of and inspiration for the album came from the comedy of the same name by Aristophanes, whom De André greatly admired.
Back to Album List         Back to Song List