Friday, October 10, 2008

Thoughts of Francesco Guccini, Italy's Bob Dylan

Francesco Guccini was born in 1940 in the village of Modena. He was displaced with his family for a few months during the war. From the late sixties until even the present, Guccini has loomed large on the Italian musical scene. He is compared to Bob Dylan in America. Both have songs of literary as well as musical value. Both also have influenced other musicians. The Modena City Ramblers as well as I Nomadi were spinoffs of Guccini, and performed some of his songs.

Although Guccini's lyrics seem left of centre in their orientation, they have a soulful quality that escapes dogmatism.

I fell in love with the song in this posting without knowing what it was about. The song is about a railroad worker in the nineteenth century who revolted unsuccessfully against the railroad in which he was employed. I was able to get a sense of the song from a somewhat surrealistic computer generated translation of its lyrics.

The impression I got from the translation was of a worker who felt angry and threatened by the novel invention of the railroads and the turbulence they inflicted upon the order in his daily struggle for sustenance. I feel much the same about some of the inventions that have revolutionised our century.

Listening to music in Italian is for me like going to Prospect Park and gazing into the pond there, attempting to penetrate the reflections from the water with a steady gaze. Sometimes I get a flicker of colour. Sometimes I can even see an entire fish or a submerged turtle or frog. But most of what goes on beneath the water is beyond me. So too is music in Italian for me. I catch fleeting glimpses of its musical and linguistic beauty. But much of its full range of emotion and meaning is beyond me.

I hope you, my readers enjoy this music as much as I have. Francesco Guccini has made great contributions to Italian music. It is fitting that he should come to the attention of Anglophone listeners

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