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!
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