So, let’s try something new here. One of my secret passions is international music because of the way it opens up our ears, and (if you want to be poetic about it) binds us all together in the universal language of really good music.
Kind of makes you feel like the “Happy Hands” performance to The Rose from Napoleon Dynamite, with all the uplifting hand gestures. But, today, all our uplifting will come from the great country of Italy.
Musica italiana is my first world music love, on account of the fact that I studied in Firenze (Florence) for a semester in college. I loved being immersed in the beautiful language and culture. I lived with a wonderful host family and made some fabulous Italian friends. Through our relentless pursuit of higher culture through clubbing, I was introduced to a variety of Italian musical artists. My Italian teacher Vittoria also used popular Italian music to teach us verbs and expressions and such.
So, without further ado (senza aspettando di piÃ¹):
(And look! All files are now direct links to mp3s via EZArchive. So right click and save target as. No more Savefile!)
“Per La Vita Che Verra,” Jovanotti
Jovanotti is a little bit of a mixed bag in Italian hipster circles because he has a sordid history as an Italian rapper, but he has lately expanded his reach into all different kinds of musical styles, and he holds a special place in my heart. I attended a Jovanotti concert in Bologna and met him after the show in 1999 when I was studying there. His pop songs “Per Te,” “Raggio di Sole,” and “Stella Cometa” were used in my Italian class to teach me the language. This song, from the 1997 album L’Albero, shows Jovanotti’s fusion with African sounds, with swelling vocals and chants all throughout this song. It is about “For the life that will come,” talking about his future with his woman. Musically, very rich & soaring, with lyrics that are (as my friend Massi once said) molto bello.
“(Storia di un) Corazon,” Jovanotti and Jarabe de Palo
This one is a two-for-one, you get your Spanish and you get your Italian in one smooth dose. “History of a heart,” this has lines in Spanish by Jarabe de Palo, singer/songwriter from Barcelona, alternating with the same lines in Italian by Jovanotti. This sounds like something you would dance around to in a Cuban plaza on a Friday night, drums pounding. From the 2000 album Il Quinto Mondo.
“Sempre di Domenica,” Daniele Silvestri
From the Putumayo Euro LoungeCD, this fast-paced track by Rome native Daniele Silvestri should be the soundtrack to walking down a busy street in a bustling Italian city, dark sunglasses on, looking molto italiano. You will be piÃ¹ ganzo (cooler) *just* for listening to it.
“Sotto Le Stelle Del Jazz” and “Elisir,” Paolo Conte
Aahh, Paolo Conte. The gruff, smoky, imitable Italian legend who sings with a smile on his face. You can hear it in almost every song. Paolo Conte always makes me think of my Italian host sister Elena putting on the record in the apartment where we lived (near Santa Croce church and Michelangelo’s house) and dancing around while she dusted and cleaned. She’d sing too. It was a beautiful thing. You’ll want to do a little two-step too when you listen to Paolo Conte, with his jazzy piano, playful raspy vocals, and Italian scatting. Buy The Best of Paolo Contehere.
“La NoyÃ©e” and “Quelqu’Un M’a Dit,” Carla Bruni
Here’s another two-for-one: Carla Bruni is Italian but sings mostly in French. She’s on my Italian list by a generous extension of today’s theme. The first song (“Drowned woman“) makes me feel like I am floating away on a soft river, eyes half closed (but sleepy, not drowned). Originally written by Serge Gainsbourg, this is a beautiful simple melody that will stick in your head. Quelqu’Un M’a Dit (“Someone told me“) is the lovely title track from the album of the same name, which I very highly recommend. It has been getting a lot of attention in the music world, and rightly so – I think it is a great album. Who knew a supermodel could sing so well? She also writes many of her songs. Not too shabby.
Join me next Wednesday for music from another part of the world, and if I have enticed you into my world of Italian music and you would like further translations of any of these lyrics, please let me know. I am a word-o-phile, so for me, knowing the what the lyrics mean help me to enjoy the song more. It is just too long to post here.
Tante buone cose to you all.