07. Canzoni Diverse: A Semiotic Approach to Luigi Tenco’s Songs

LUCA MARCONI


 

1. Flo Sandon’s, “Estasi”

 From: “Estasi” / “Ancora ci credo”. Durium A 10194, 1957, 78 rpm.

 

Flo Sandon’s: voice; orchestra conducted by Federico Bergamini.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

Flo Sandon’s (1924-2006) was one of the most famous singers in Italy in the fifties: she sang the winning songs at the Sanremo festival in 1953 and at the Naples festival in 1960. “Estasi” (Ectasy) was sung by herself (and, in another version, by Fiorella Bini) at the Sanremo Festival in 1957; some of its lyrics were quoted in the Adornian book Le canzoni della cattiva coscienza as prototypical examples of  the lyrics in the gastronomic Italian love songs of the 1950s.


 

2. Gino Paoli,  “Un uomo vivo”

From: “Un uomo vivo” / “In un caffè”. Ricordi SRL 10-177, 1961, 45 rpm.

 

Gino Paoli: voice; orchestra conducted by Gian Franco Reverberi.

 

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Discogs

 

The Italian cantautore (singer-songwriter) Gino Paoli (born in 1934) made his debut with releases on Ricordi label in 1959, and in 1960 published his important love song “Il cielo in una stanza” which, sung by the famous Italian singer Mina, was a big hit in Italy.  He participated for the first time in the Sanremo Festival singing another love song written by himself, “Un uomo vivo” (A man alive), where the dramatis persona talks about his love as a phenomenon which made him understand his own identity.


 

3. Sergio Endrigo, “La brava gente”

 From: “La brava gente” / “Espoirs de Printemps”. Tavola rotonda T70011, 1961, 45 rpm.

 

Sergio Endrigo: voice.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

Sergio Endrigo (1933-2005) was one of the Italian cantautori who made their debut between 1959 and 1961 with releases on Ricordi or Tavola Rotonda, an associated label. In his song “La brava gente”, the dramatis persona rejects any conformist approach to love by telling his counterpart that “la brava gente non saprà mai le parole che intreccio per te” (decent people will never know the words I weave for you).


 

4. Luigi Tenco, “Mi sono innamorato di te”

From: Luigi Tenco. Ricordi MRL 6023, 1962, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Luigi Tenco: voice; orchestra conducted by Giampiero Boneschi.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

“Mi sono innamorato di te” (I Fell in Love With You) is one of the six love songs published in Tenco’s first album, where the dramatis persona talks about his love as a complex and imponderable phenomenon set in concrete space-time coordinates not devoid of shadows and contradictions.


 

5. Domenico Modugno,  “Libero”

 From: “Libero” / “Nuda”. Fonit, SPM. 1, 1960, 45 rpm.

 

Domenico Modugno: voice; Orchestra del Festival di Sanremo, conducted by Cinico Angelini.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

“Libero” (Free), which came second at the Sanremo Festival, was one of the first diaristic songs published in Italy before Tenco’s songs.


 

5a. Domenico Modugno,  “Libero”

From the film Sanremo, la grande sfida, directed by Piero Vivarelli, 1960

 

 

A video with the live performance of this song at the Sanremo Festival.


 

6. Luigi Tenco, “Il mio regno”

From: Luigi Tenco. Ricordi MRL 6023, 1962, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Luigi Tenco: voice; orchestra conducted by Giampiero Boneschi.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

“Il mio regno” (My Kingdom) was the first diaristic song published in a record made by Luigi Tenco (1938-1967), and it is one of the three diaristic songs published in his first album.


 

7. Luigi Tenco, “Il tempo passò”

From: Luigi Tenco. Ricordi MRL 6023, 1962, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Luigi Tenco: voice; orchestra conducted by Giampiero Boneschi.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

In this diaristic song, just like in “Io sì” and another later love song by Tenco, “Lontano lontano”, the passing of time implied by the lyrics is musically signified by setting each verse a minor second above the previous one.


 

8. Luigi Tenco, “Come mi vedono gli altri”

From: Luigi Tenco. Ricordi MRL 6023, 1962, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Luigi Tenco: voice; orchestra conducted by Giampiero Boneschi.

 

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Discogs

 

The diaristic song “Come mi vedono gli altri” (How Other People See Me) is the last track in Tenco’s first album: the song and the album end on the repeated words “rimanere deluso” (to become disillusioned) gradually fading.


 

9. Luigi Tenco, “Io sono uno”

From: Tenco. RCA Italiana S 3, 1966, 33⅓ rpm; TV appearance on the RAI TV show Incontro con Luigi Tenco, November 1966.

 

Luigi Tenco: voice; Ruggero Cini: arrangement and orchestration

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

The diaristic song “Io sono uno” (I Am One Person), in the musical style of Italian “beat”, was published in Tenco’s third album, the last one published before his death.


 

10. Fausto Amodei, “Ballata dei dittatori”

From: Le canzoni di Fausto Amodei 2. DNG GEP 80002, 1963, EP.

 

Fausto Amodei: voice.

 

Lyrics

Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana

 

“Ballata dei dittatori” (Ballad of the Despots) is one of the first Italian open letter songs with  Boris Vian’s “Le deserteur” as their model. It was written and sung by Fausto Amodei, one of the members of the Cantacronache.


 

11. Luigi Tenco, “Cara maestra”

From: Luigi Tenco. Ricordi MRL 6023, 1962, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Luigi Tenco: voice; orchestra conducted by Giampiero Boneschi.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

“Cara maestra” (Dear Teacher) is the first Tenco’s open letter song, published in his first album, where there were no other songs of this kind. Its musical style is similar to Boris Vian’s “Le deserteur” and its dramatis persona ironically asks public figures (a teacher, a priest and a mayor) the reason for certain incongruities between what they preached and what they practiced.


 

12. Luigi Tenco, “Ragazzo mio”

From “Ragazzo mio” / “No, non è vero”. Jolly Hi-Fi Records J 20235, 1964, 45 rpm.

 

Luigi Tenco: voice; orchestra conducted by Giampiero Boneschi.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

This open letter song is the A-side of Tenco’s first single released on Jolly, a label of the company SAAR, which had launched Adriano Celentano and Tony Dallara, two of the most successful Italian rock’n’roll singers (in Italy called urlatori, yellers). Its dramatis persona addresses the contemporary young man and offers him advice (recalling Dylan’s “Look Out Kid” in “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, and Celentano’s “Ciao ragazzi”).


 

13. Riky Maiocchi, “Uno in più”

From: “Uno in più” / “Non buttarmi giù”. CBS 2388, 1966, 45 rpm.

 

Riky Maiocchi: voice.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

This is one of the most famous “open letter songs” which appeared during 1966 following Tenco’s footsteps; it was the first song of the tendency in the style of Italian bitt called linea verde (green line) by its deviser, Mogol. Besides, it was the first song written together by himself and Lucio Battisti to be published in a record. Battisti sung it in his first album (Lucio Battisti, Ricordi SMRL 6063), published in 1969.


 

14. Luigi Tenco, “Io lo so già”

From: Luigi Tenco. Jolly Hi-Fi Records LPJ 5045, 1965, 33⅓ rpm.

 

Luigi Tenco: voice; Alberto Baldan Bembo: arrangement; orchestra conducted by Ezio Leoni.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

In this open letter song, the sound and groove aimed at a young audience derived many of their stylistic elements from covers of post-rock’n’roll American hits sung in Italian, such as Celentano’s “Stai lontana da me” (Stay Away From Me) and “Pregherò” (I’ll Pray, cover of “Stand by Me”), Rita Pavone’s “Cuore” (Heart) and Petula Clark’s “Quelli che hanno un cuore” (Those Who Have a Heart).


 

15. Adriano Celentano, “Stai lontana da me”

From: “Stai lontana da me” / “Amami e baciami” / “Sei rimasta sola”. Clan Celentano ACC 24001, 1962, 45 rpm.

 

Adriano Celentano: voice; Gianni Dall’Aglio: drums; Gino Santercole: guitar; Nando De Luca: keyboards; Natale Massara: sax; Detto Mariano: arrangement.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

This song was a cover, with Italian words written by Mogol,  of “Tower of Strength,” co-written by its first singer, Gene McDaniels, and Burt Bacharach, which reached No. 5 in the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1961, and won McDaniels his second gold record. “Tower of Strength” reached No. 49 in the UK Singles Chart, losing out to Frankie Vaughan’s chart-topping version. “Stai lontana da me” (Stay Away from Me) was one of the first cover of post-rock’n’roll American hits sung in Italian which obtained great success in Italy in the 1960s.


 

16. Rita Pavone, “Cuore”

From: “Cuore” / “Il ballo del mattone”. RCA Italiana PM 453232, 1962, 45 rpm.

 

Rita Pavone: voice; orchestra conducted by Luis Enriquez (Luis Bacalov).

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

“Cuore” was a cover of the song “Heart! (I Hear You Beating)”, which, sung by Wayne Newton, reached the No. 65 in the US top 100 single chart in 1963. The version sung in Italian by Rita Pavone (seventeen-year-old then) sold a million copies in 1963, spending nine weeks at number one in Italy.


 

17. Petula Clark, “Quelli che hanno un cuore”

 From: “Quelli che hanno un cuore” / “È finito tutto”. Jolly Hi-Fi Records J 35045, 1964, 45 rpm.

 

Petula Clark: voice; Ezio Leoni: producer; orchestra conducted by Tony Hatch.

 

Lyrics

Discogs

 

Dianne Warwick’s original recording of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” (Bacharach-David) hit the Top Ten in the United States, Canada, Spain, The Netherlands, South Africa, Belgium and Australia in January 1964. Cilla Black’s version was a UK No. 1 hit in 1964. Clark reached No. 7 in France with “Ceux qui ont un coeur” in the spring of 1964, then No. 5 in Italy with “Quelli che hanno un cuore” that September. The producer of the Italian cover, Ezio Leoni, directed the orchestra and was the producer in Tenco’s “Io lo so già,” published in 1965.