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Dice che era un bell’uomo e veniva, veniva dal mare.
Parlava un’altra lingua però sapeva amare.
(He says he was a handsome man and he came, he came from the sea.
He spoke a different language, but he knew how to love.)
4/3/1943 is the song that first made Lucio Dalla the successful singer we know. Presented at the Sanremo Festival in 1971, it was not Dalla’s debut song: he had already been performing since the ’60s but had encountered many obstacles because he was both unconventional and a musician ahead of its time. His performance at Cantagiro 64 remains legendary: every time, Dalla was welcomed by a constant cascade of thrown vegetables.
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Ma l’impresa eccezionale, dammi retta, è essere normale.
(But the real achievement, I’m telling you, is to be normal)
During the late 1970s, Dalla increased both sales and critical success. In 1979 his new album, Lucio Dalla, was a hit: it remained on the charts for a year and a half and sold more than a million copies, driven by songs like Stella di mare, Anna e Marco and Cosa sarà; the record ended with L’anno che verrà: an anomalous song in the Italian canon that combined prophetic taste, social satire and also a certain fondness for nonsense.
E si farà l’amore ognuno come gli va,
anche i preti potranno sposarsi ma soltanto a una certa età.
(and we’ll all make love as we please,
even priests will marry, but only at a certain age.)
This line can sum them all up, and underlines the demand to be able to live life – and not only sexual life – freely, without having to answer to anyone.
Te voglio bene assaje,
ma tanto tanto bene sai.
(I love you very much,
I really love you, you know)
The song won a platinum disc and the Tenco plaque as the best song of the year. Having had a huge success all over the world, it was recorded by many artists, including Michael Bolton, Lara Fabian, Mina, Julio Ilglesias, Pino Daniele and especially Luciano Pavarotti, who approached pop music thanks to Caruso, boasting dozens of versions translated into as many languages and selling almost 40 million copies. And yet Dalla, a Northerner, did not feel like singing in Neapolitan, so he asked his colleague Peppino di Capri for advice. The answer was the only possible one: “Don’t worry, it will be a worldwide success”. Caruso‘s notoriety is, in fact, second only to the equally famous Nel blu dipinto di blu, the most well-known Italian song in the world.
Amore mio non devi stare in pena
Questa vita è una catena
Qualche volta fa un po’ male.
(My love, you don’t have to worry
This life is a chain
Sometimes it hurts a little.)
Written by Ron in 1990 and published in the album Cambio, Attenti al lupo (Beware of the wolf) represents Dalla’s pop and humorous self-deprecating phase. A pressing rhythm, assonances and timeless images. A song that is also a nursery rhyme, but behind the apparent lightness lurks a deep meaning that has to do with growth, death and the anguish of separation. Life is indeed a chain, a cycle in which the strongest eats the weakest, but, although the wolf can hide behind the corner, the acceptance of life and its inexorable circle emerges. It is precisely by crossing the forest of life, a symbol of existence, that we reach the song’s protagonists’ carefreeness, by making love “in a sea of cicadas”.
Lontano si ferma un treno
ma che bella mattina, il cielo è sereno
Buonanotte, anima mia
adesso spengo la luce e così sia.
(A train stops far away
What a beautiful morning, the sky is clear
Good night, my soul
I’ll turn off the light now, and so be it.)
A heart attack, in fact, took him away from us, as a songwriter, poet, and musician, on a peaceful morning on 1 March 2012.
Thank you, Lucio.