06. A Portrait of the Author as an Artist: Ideology, Authenticity and Stylization in the Canzone d’Autore

JACOPO TOMATIS


 

1. Gianni Meccia, “Il pullover”

From “Il pullover” / “S’è fatto tardi”.  RCA Camden CP 103, 1960, 45 rpm.

 

Arrangement: Ennio Morricone.

 

Lyrics

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

“Il pullover” – released in December, 1960 – was one of Gianni Meccia’s big success, a few months after “Il barattolo”. The lyrics was written by professional lyricist and producer Franco Migliacci, who also wrote the lyrics for Modugno’s “Nel blu dipinto di blu”. Meccia was launched by Italian RCA as the first “cantautore” (singer-songwriter) in September, 1960. “Il pullover” (The Pullover) provides a valuable example of what being a cantautore meant for RCA marketing managers: the lyrics is witty, but innocuous. The musical arrangement was scored by Ennio Morricone (see also A Conversation with Ennio Morricone*).


 

2. Gino Paoli, “La gatta”

From “La gatta” / “Io vivo nella luna”, Ricordi SRL 10114, 1960, 45 rpm.

 

Arrangement: Gian Piero Reverberi.

 

Lyrics

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

Gino Paoli was the most successful cantautore of the 1960s: his public image as a bohemian (he was also a painter) had a great impact on the Italian audience, and contributed to affirm an ideology of the cantautore as a poet, and an artist. This song was one of his earlier success, in 1960. “La gatta” (The Female Cat) perfectly shows how Paoli – and the early cantautori – succeeded in mixing up American musical influences and French inspiration. The lyrics emulates Brassens’ “Auprès de mon arbre”, dreaming of a romantic past when the singer lived “in an old attic near the sea”, while the chords loop is a typical teen-pop loop of the so-called “milksap” period, in Philip Tagg’s terms (I vi ii V, in C).


 

3. Gino Paoli, “Il cielo in una stanza”

From “Il cielo in una stanza” / “Però ti voglio bene”. Ricordi  SRL 10116, 1960, 45 rpm.

 

Arrangement: Gian Piero Reverberi.

 

Lyrics

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

“Il cielo in una stanza” (The Sky in a Room) was interpreted by Mina in the same 1960, with a different arrangement by Tony De Vita. The great success of her version consecrated Paoli as a successful author and singer-songwriter (see Prato for Mina’s version)


 

4. Luigi Tenco, “Ciao amore ciao”

From “Ciao amore ciao” / “E se ci diranno”. RCA Italiana PM 3387, 1960 45rpm.

 

Arrangement: Gian Piero Reverberi.

 

Lyrics

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

Tenco performed this song at the 1967 Sanremo Festival, together with his girlfriend, the French pop singer Dalida. After being excluded from the final, he committed suicide. The song sounded as a clear attempt to deal with a serious theme (emigration) using a popular musical language (see also Marconi)


 

5. Fabrizio De André, “Preghiera in Gennaio”

From Volume 1. Bluebell BBLP 39, 1967, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Lyrics

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

The opening song of Fabrizio De Andrè’s debut lp is dedicated to Luigi Tenco, and openly treats the “taboo” topic of suicide.


 

6. Francesco De Gregori, “Rimmel”

From Rimmel. RCA TPL1 1107, 1975, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Lyrics

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

Rimmel, released in 1975, became the greatest hit of the year and consecrated the new cantautori of the 1970s as popular artists.


 

7. Francesco Guccini, “L’avvelenata”

From Via Paolo Fabbri 43. Emi Italiana 3C064-18188, 1976, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Lyrics

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

In 1976, Guccini released this “Embittered Song”, in which he harshly took fun of music critics, and affirmed the right of the cantautore to define himself, denying his political role.


 

8. Eugenio Bennato, “Cantautore”

From La torre di Babele. Ricordi SMRL 6190, 1976, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Lyrics

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

In a similar way, Edoardo Bennato composed this funny “ode” to the cantautore, in which he parodically praised the cantautore’s power and infallibility. This live performance is introduced by the cantautore Lucio Dalla.


 

9. Lucio Dalla e Francesco De Gregori, Banana Republic

Live film concert; directed by Ottavio Fabbri.

 

Credits: Lucio Dalla: voice, clarinet, piano, alto sax; Francesco De Gregori: voice, acoustic guitar; Gaetano Curreri: polimoog; mellotron; solina; Franco Di Stefano: drums, percussions; Fabio Liberatori: minimoog, Fender Rhodes; Marco Nanni: bass, backing vocals; Giovanni Pezzoli: drums, percussions; Ricky Portera: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals; Ron: piano, backing vocals;  George Sims: acoustic guitar, backing vocals

 

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

In 1979, Francesco De Gregori and Lucio Dalla joined together for a rockstar-like  stadium tour. The tour was also recorded in a live lp, Banana Republic (RCA Italiana PL 31466, 1979).


 

10. Fabrizio De André and PFM, “Avventura a Durango”

From Fabrizio De André in concerto vol. 2. Ricordi ORL 8431, 1980, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Credits (for the complete album): Fabrizio De André: voice, acoustic; Roberto Colombo: polimoog, backing vocals, Fender Rhodes, percussions, minimoog; Franz Di Cioccio: drums, percussions; Lucio Fabbri: violin; Franco Mussida: backing vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Flavio Premoli: minimoog; micromoog; Yamaha piano; Elka strings. Arrangements: PFM.

 

Lyrics

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

In 1979, Fabrizio De André toured with PFM, the most famous Italian progressive rock band. The PFM re-arranged several De André’s songs: these versions are still very popular, and De André had often used the same arrangements in his following tours. “Avventura a Durango”, written by De André with his collaborator Massimo Bubola, is an Italian cover of Bob Dylan’s “Romance in Durango”.


 

11. Le luci della centrale elettrica, “La gigantesca scritta COOP”

From Canzoni da spiaggia deturpata. La Tempesta LTD-019, 2008, cd.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

A good example of contemporary canzone d’autore: Vasco Brondi – aka Le luci della centrale elettrica (The Electric Plant Lights)– debuted in 2008, and won the Tenco Prize for the best debut album, produced by C.S.I.’s guitarist Giorgio Canali. Brondi mixes up influences both from the classic cantautori and the 1990s italian indie rock.

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