[music:] Lucio Dalla, Il giorno aveva cinque teste (1973)
It’s amazing to see how fans of italian music from the sixties and the seventies seem to know everything about forgotten, obscure beat or prog acts, and keep posting their lost albums all around the blogosphere, while they totally disregard the work of one of our greatest musical geniuses, which stays up there with Franco Battiato and Lucio Battisti.
Lucio Dalla, born in Bologna in 1943, began as a clarinet player in jazz band, at the end of the fifties. In 1963, while playing in the backing band for the popstar Edoardo Vianello, he met Gino Paoli, who picked him up and helped him kicking off a solo career.
After some 7″, in 1966 he released his first album, 1999: a collection of beat-psych tracks, which also contained an italian version of James Brown’s It’s a man’s, man’s, man’s world, whose lyrics were written by Sergio Bardotti and Luigi Tenco.
His first real masterpiece came in 1970 with Terra di Gaibola (“Gaibola’s land”), but it’s with his participation in the following year’s Sanremo festival with 4/3/1943 – he came third – that a mass audience noticed him. The song became almost immediately a standard (among many others, Chico Buarque recorded it as “Minha história” in his 1974 Construçao), and was then included in the interlocutory LP Storie di casa mia (“stories from home”, 1971).
And then came 1973. Lucio Dalla had recently begun to hang out at the bookshop in Bologna where Roberto Roversi, the owner and one of the most important italian poets of the past century, used to gather with his fellow writers Pier Paolo Pasolini, Francesco Leonetti, Franco Fortini. Dalla and Roversi decided to start writing together, infusing civil poetry into a yet unheard popular song form which encompassed pop, rythm’n’blues, progressive rock, jazz, folk, musique concréte, contemporary classic elements. The first output of this dreamy collaboration was Il giorno aveva cinque teste (“the day had five heads”).
Never had high and engaged culture managed to deal such effectively with pop music, not giving up profundity and its experimental attitude; never had pop music attempted to such extent to bring to light the very roots of power, rage, pain, spirit, love, joy, without losing its entertaining qualities. Try listen to “L’auto targata “TO”, “La bambina” or “La canzone d’Orlando”, and when you’ll feel that shiver down your back, you’ll get it. Obviously the lyrics are crucial here; anyway you’ll also find some examples of Dalla’s legendary scat singing and “fake english”, namely in “Pezzo zero”.
Here is the tracklist:
01, L’auto targata “TO” (“the car tagged “TO”)
02, Alla fermata del tram (“at the tram stop”)
03, È lì (“it’s there”)
04, Passato, presente (“past, present”)
05, L’operaio Gerolamo (“working man Gerolamo”)
06, Il coyote (“the coyote”)
07, Grippaggio (“seizing”)
08, La bambina (l’inverno è neve, l’estate è sole) (“the baby girl (winter is snow, summer is sun)”)
09, Pezzo zero (“track zero”, also released as the b-side of a 7″ featuring “Anna bell’Anna” in 1974)
10, La canzone d’Orlando (“the song of Orlando”)
After two other milestone releases such as Anidride solforosa (“sulphuric dioxide”, 1975) and Automobili (“cars”, 1976), Dalla and Roversi parted their ways. Lucio has been writing himself the lyrics to his songs since then, beginning with the incredible Come è profondo il mare (“how deep is the sea”, 1977), perhaps the most important record in the history of italian pop-rock.
He has released more than thirty albums to date, selling millions copies and achieving a worldwide success with songs such as Caruso, Ayrton, Canzone (“song”).
It would possibly take an entire blog to tell all the lives of Lucio Dalla – for instance, he has been a nominee for the best actor award in the 1967 Venice Film Festival for his role in I sovversivi, by the Taviani brothers, and has been experimenting with opera and film and tv scores. Pay a visit to his official website Pressing Line (in italian) to know more about his recent projects.
[edit: I have just noticed (via Martini & Jopparelli) that a song by Lucio Dalla, “Ulisse coperto di sale” (“Ulysses covered in salt”, from Anidride solforosa) has been recently sampled by the mighty Timbaland for his “Indian Carpet”. Read the whole story.]