ogni tanto si fermano
e quando si fermano
sono nere come il corvo
sembra che ti guardano con malocchio
Certe volte sono bianche
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
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
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."
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
and the earth trembles
and the animals stay still.
Certain times they warn you with noise.
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.
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.
Fabrizio De André, the revered Italian singer/songwriter, created a deep and enduring body of work over the course of his career from the 1960s through the 1990s. With these translations I have tried to render his words into an English that reads naturally without straying too far from the Italian. The translations decipher De André's lyrics without trying to preserve rhyme schemes or to make the resulting English lyric work with the melody of the song.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Le nuvole - Clouds
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