January 11, 2006

Wednesdays are for World Music

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 più):
(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 più 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 Noyée” 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.

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  • What great tracks! I especially like “La Noyee.” I also highly recommend all the Putamayo CDs for those of you who like International Music (especially Samba Bassa Nova and French Cafe, my two favorites).

    Kristy — January 11, 2006 @ 4:47 pm

  • Great idea for Wednesdays . . . I’ll be a regular attendee.

    I looked at my site earlier today and realized that I needed to get my ass out of North America. My plan is to post once a week about Brazilian music, which has become another obsession.

    Keep on.

    Jennings — January 11, 2006 @ 6:27 pm

  • Carla Bruni is amazing…the whole CD is really really beautiful, which is a little surprising considering her job history..

    connor — January 12, 2006 @ 11:59 am

  • hello from Italy! congrats on this excellent post! it’s the first i’ve read of any mp3blogger being interested in the Italian music scene. however, since you know the local artists so well already, do check out some other interesting bands – like Baustelle, Amari, Afterhours or Subsonica. you never know… you might want to do a second episode ;-) keep up the great work!

    pelice — January 16, 2006 @ 11:40 am

  • FYI, Record Brother had some great vintage international garage-rockin’ albums up for complete dowload, including an Italian Beat ’60s, Mexican Rumble and Japanese Garage-Psych of the same era. Some of the covers of popular songs of the day are in English, some in the native languages, and lots of original stuff too.

    Dan Aloi — June 27, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

  • Baustelle: romantico a Milano
    The best italian song (and video) of 2006

    Anonymous — October 17, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

  • I don’t know if you will read this but a grest italian rap/funk “Spaghetti Funk” as they cll it is Articolo 31. two great songs are
    Senza dubbio and Come Una Pietra Scalciata (Con Bob Dylan)a Bob Dylan cover.

    Anonymous — January 26, 2007 @ 9:46 pm

  • you should check out “gli amanti di roma” by gianmaria testa, and “estate” by negramaro

    Anonymous — February 14, 2007 @ 11:26 pm

  • Yeh, actually nice tracks!! Keep on keeping on! Thanks for such good stuff!

    Sitora Nekto — April 6, 2007 @ 12:08 pm

  • being an italian abroad, I’m glad you did an entry like this – people should start getting into international music more, even when it is sung in a foreign language… sometimes makes you want to learn it to understand everything ;)

    also wanted to give my two cents like a few people here, and suggest Verdena and Prozac+ .. as pelice very well put it, you might want to do a second part to the post someday ;)

    alice tragedy — April 14, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  • Hi, I see your Blog and I like it. I write in http://canzoniitaliane.blogspot.com/ if you right I’d like to exchange our links. Plese contact me in a Blog comment, I’m waiting you!! (I write also in others blogs…=.

    BlogmasterPg — August 30, 2007 @ 10:04 am

  • if you want to hear something great (from italy) listen to “afterhours”..(these two cds: “hai paura del buio?” and “quello che non c’è”)


    Anonymous — September 12, 2007 @ 6:18 pm

  • Just loved it! It feels strange to find your music in a foreign blog… I’m not posting some advise for italian music, because it’s too personal (and even ’cause actually everyone seems too interested in proposing just their favourite ones, instead of the better). I suppose that’s your job to find out artists, so they can reach their importance for you (as I did with JB, the reason that I’ve been wisiting your blog for quite a time).
    Bye ;)

    And you said you studied in Florence (my beloved Firenze, even if I’m not fiorentina!), so you may like to read it in italian too…
    Adorabile! è davvero strano trovare la propria musica su un blog straniero…non ho intenzione di postare consigli sulla musica italiana, perchè la musica è troppo personale ( e anche perchè tutti sembrano troppo interessati nel proporre i loro artisti preferiti, invece che i migliori…). Penso che il compito di ognuno sia scoprire gli artisti in modo che possano acquistare maggiore importanza per chi li scopre (come ho fatto io con Jeff Buckley, che è l aragione per la quale visito il tuo blog da un po’).
    Magari ci si risente… ^_^

    Anonymous — October 3, 2007 @ 7:26 am

  • Hello,
    Last Christmass in italy I saw a music Clip and i don’t remmember the name of the song nor the artits.
    the clip was like “alice in wonderland” .

    Can some one help me to find it?

    eran — December 9, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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