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!
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