Fabrizio De André

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Fabrizio De André
Fabrizio De André 1977.jpg
Background information
Birth name Fabrizio Cristiano De André
Born (1940-02-18)18 February 1940
Origin Genoa, Italy
Died 11 January 1999(1999-01-11) (aged 58)
Genres Folk rock, Folk music, Chanson, World music
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, classical guitar
Years active 1958–1999
Labels Karim, Sony BMG, Ricordi
Website fondazionedeandre.it

Fabrizio Cristiano De André (18 February 1940 - 11 January 1999) was an Italian singer-songwriter. Known for his sympathies towards anarchism, libertarianism and pacifism, his songs often featured marginalized and rebellious people, gypsies, prostitutes and knaves, and attacked the Catholic Church hierarchy hypocrisies.[1] Artistically active for almost 40 years and the author of thirteen studio albums, he is renowned for the quality of his lyrics and often considered a poet. He contributed to the valorization of the languages of Italy, most notably Ligurian and, to a lesser extent, Sardinian, Gallurese and Neapolitan. Following his early death several streets, places, parks, schools and public libraries were named after him.[2][3][4][5][6]

Biography[edit]

De André was born in Genova (Genoa), welcomed into the world by Gino Marinuzzi's "Country Waltz" on the home gramophone. Twenty-five years later, Fabrizio De André would set his "Waltz for a Love" to Marinuzzi's waltz tune.

When war broke out, the De Andre' family had to seek refuge on a country farm near Revignano (a little town near Asti), in Piemonte. Fabrizio's father, who was an Antifascista pursued by the police, joined the partisans. In 1945 the De André family moved back to Genova. His father became an important member of Genova's upper class, CEO, and, then, chairman of Eridania, a sugar's factory.

Fabrizio went to primary school, first at the Marcellian Sisters' School and, later, at the Cesare Battisti public school. He went on to the Liceo Classico "Cristoforo Colombo"; after his final examination, he enrolled in the Law School at the University of Genoa, though he did not graduate (he gave up when he had only a few exams left). De Andre' first played the violin, then the guitar, and joined a number of local jazz bands (jazz was his "first love").

First recordings[edit]

In 1960 De André recorded his first two songs, Nuvole barocche ("Baroque Clouds") and E fu la notte ("And There Was Night"); in 1962 he married Puny Rignon, a Genoese woman nearly ten years older. That same year the couple had their first and only son, Cristiano, who would follow in his father's footsteps and become a musician and songwriter as well.

In the following years De André wrote a number of songs which made him known to a larger public, soon becoming classic hits: La guerra di Piero ("Peter's War"), La ballata dell'eroe ("The Hero's Ballad"), Il testamento di Tito ("Titus's Will"), La Ballata del Michè ("Mike's Ballad"), Via del Campo (literally "Field Street", a famous street in Genoa), La canzone dell'amore perduto ("Song for Lost Love"), La città vecchia ("Old Downtown"), Carlo Martello ritorna dalla battaglia di Poitiers ("Charles Martel on His Way Back from Poitiers", written together with actor Paolo Villaggio, one of De André's closest friends), and La canzone di Marinella ("Marinella's Song").

Volume 1[edit]

Volume I

De André's first LP, Volume 1, was issued shortly after (1968), followed by Tutti morimmo a stento ("We All Died Agonizingly") and Volume 3; both LPs soon reached the top of the Italian hit-parade. The former contained a personal version of Eroina ("Heroin") by the poet Riccardo Mannerini, entitled Cantico dei drogati ("Canticle of the Junkies").

La buona novella[edit]

In 1970 De André wrote La buona novella ("Glad Tidings" - a literal rendition of the etymology of gospel), a concept album based on Christ's life as told in the Apocrypha. The album was very controversial, especially the song Il testamento di Tito ("Titus's Will"), in which one of the thieves crucified with Jesus violently refutes the Ten Commandments. He had written a number of songs (like Preghiera in Gennaio, "Prayer in January", and Si chiamava Gesù, "His Name Was Jesus") in which he showed a Christian-like open-minded spirit and in the meantime invited the audience in his own delicate way to think about the manipulation of the church.

Non al denaro non all'amore né al cielo[edit]

In 1971 he wrote another celebrated concept album, Non al denaro non all'amore né al cielo ("Neither to money, nor to love, nor to Heaven"), based on Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology; in an interview the LP was introduced to Fernanda Pivano, the first Italian translator of the "Anthology" and one of Cesare Pavese's most intimate friends. Fabrizio De André's name began to be associated with literature and poetry, and some of his songs found their way into school books.

Storia di un impiegato and Canzoni[edit]

In 1973 he wrote his most "political" album, Storia di un impiegato ("Story of an Employee").
The following year, De André issued Canzoni ("Songs"), a collection of his translations from Georges Brassens, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. The album also included a number of his old songs from the 1960s.

Volume 8[edit]

In 1975 De André (who in the meantime had divorced his wife Puny and begun a relationship with the folksinger Dori Ghezzi) wrote Volume 8 with another famous Italian singer-songwriter, Francesco De Gregori. With this album, he broke with "tradition" in order to find a new approach to poetry and music. The lyrics show how deep the influence of modern poetry is on De André's work. 1975 marked a real change in De André's life: he began to perform in a series of memorable concerts (after his first performances of the early 1960s, he had always refused to appear in public, except for a couple of TV broadcasts) and planned to move to Sardinia with his new love. For this purpose, he purchased the Agnata homestead near Tempio Pausania in the northern part of the island, where he could devote himself to farming and cattle breeding.

In 1977 the couple had a daughter, Luisa Vittoria (nicknamed "Luvi"). The following year De André issued a new LP, Rimini. Most songs included on this album were written together with Massimo Bubola, a young singer-songwriter from Verona.

Concerts with PFM and kidnapping[edit]

1979 was another milestone in De André's life. The year began with a series of distinguished live concerts from which a double LP was compiled; De André was accompanied by one of the most renowned Italian progressive rock bands, Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM); the albums were released as In Concerto (1979), and In Concerto - Volume 2 (1980). At the end of August, however, De André and Ghezzi were kidnapped for ransom by a gang of bandits in Sardinia and held prisoner in the Alà dei Sardi mountains. The couple were released four months later with a ransom reportedly being paid. As De André stated in some interviews, he was helped by his father to find the money and had to start a tour shortly after the release of the "Indiano" album in order to repay him. When the bandits were apprehended by the police, De André was called as a witness before the Court. He showed compassion for some of his kidnappers, since he had been well treated by his "guardians" and declared his solidarity with them. "They were the real prisoners, not I", he said. He said he understood they were driven by need, but he did not show any compassion for the higher echelon of the group that organized his kidnapping, since they were already rich.

This incident, and the hard life of the Sardinian people, gave him inspiration for his following album, released in 1981. The album is untitled but, due to the image of Native American on the cover, the mass-media called it "The Indian". In De André's poetical vision, the American Indians merge with the poor Sardinian shepherds as an allegory for the marginalization and subjugation of people who are "different". The song Hotel Supramonte, is dedicated to the kidnapping and to Dori Ghezzi, who was with him during those days. The album also contains one of his most famous songs, Fiume Sand Creek ("Sand Creek River"): in De André's unique, allusive way it tells the story of the massacre of defenseless Native Americans by US Army troops on 29 November 1864.

Crêuza de mä[edit]

In 1984 he turned to his native Genoese dialect; in collaboration with former PFM member Mauro Pagani he wrote one of his most celebrated albums, Crêuza de mä ("Path to the sea", the term "Crêuza" actually means a narrow road bordered by low walls, typical of Genoa and Liguria in general). The songs are a tribute to the traditional music from the Mediterranean basin. The album was awarded several prizes and was hailed as "the best Italian album of the 1980s".[citation needed] David Byrne named it as one of his favourite albums, and Wim Wenders said that it was this album that introduced him to the music of De André, whom the director names as one of his favourite artists.[7] As Pagani has repeatedly stated, De Andrè wrote the lyrics for the album, while the music was almost entirely Pagani's.

1990s[edit]

In 1989 De André married Ghezzi; the following year a new album was issued, Le nuvole ("The Clouds"), which included two more songs in the Genoese dialect, one in the Gallurese dialect of Northern Sardinia ("Monti di Mola") and one in the Neapolitan dialect, the highly ironic "Don Raffaè". A new series of well received live concerts followed, from which a double LP, 1991 Concerti ("Concerts 1991"), was issued. In 1992 he started a new series of live concerts, performing in a number of theatres for the first time.

De André's last original album, Anime salve ("Saved Souls"), was issued in 1996. Written in collaboration with Ivano Fossati, it represents a sort of "spiritual will", and includes songs such as "Khorakhané" (dedicated to the Muslim Roma people), "Disamistade" (a return to his beloved Sardinian themes, which has been translated into English and sung by The Walkabouts) and "Smisurata preghiera" ("An Infinite Prayer"), based on the Colombian writer and storyteller Álvaro Mutis's The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll. De André also sang a Spanish version of this song, Desmedida plegaria.

In 1997, he undertook a new tour of theatre concerts and a new song collection called M'innamoravo di tutto was issued ("I Used to Fall in Love with Everything", a quote from one of his older songs, Coda di Lupo - Wolf's Tail) . The Anime salve concert tour went on up to the late summer of 1998, when De André stopped after the first symptoms of a serious illness, which was later diagnosed as lung cancer.

De André died in Milan on 11 January 1999, at 2:30 am. Two days later, he was buried in his native town, Genoa; the ceremony was attended by a crowd of about 20,000. He is buried in the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, in the De André family chapel.

Fabrizio De André and faith[edit]

In the concept album La buona novella (The Good News) (1970), De André gives us the ultimate expression of his religious vision, making a clear humanization of the divine. In a concert at the Teatro Brancaccio in Rome in 1998, De André made the following statements about the album:[8]

« When I wrote La buona novella it was 1969. At the time we were in the very middle of the students' protests, and less attentive people, which are always the majority among us - comrades, friends, people of the same age as me - regarded that record as anachronistic. They told me: "What's this? We go fighting inside universities and outside universities against abuses, and you instead tell us the story, which moreover we already know, of Jesus Christ's preachings?" And they did not realize that the Good News was meant to be an allegory, it was an allegory that consisted in a comparison between the better and more sensible instances of the revolt of '68, and some instances, certainly higher from a spiritual point of view, but similar from an ethical-social point of view, raised by a gentleman, 1969 years before, against the abuses of power, against the abuses of authority, in the name of egalitarianism and universal brotherhood. That man was called Jesus of Nazareth. And I think he was, and remains, the greatest revolutionary of all time. When I wrote the album I didn't want to venture into roads or paths that would be difficult for me to travel on, such as metaphysics or even theology, first of all because I don't understand anything about those, secondly because I always thought that if God did not exist we should invent Him, which is exactly what Man has done ever since he set foot on Earth »

« Probably the characters in La buona novella lose a bit of sacralization, but I think, and I hope, particularly to the benefit of their better and greater humanization »

The attitude taken by De André against the political use of religion and the Church hierarchy is often sarcastic and highly critical about their contradictory behaviour, such as, for example, in the songs Un blasfemo, Il testamento di Tito, La ballata del Miché and the last verses of Bocca di rosa.[9]

« I feel myself religious, and my religion is to feel part of a whole, in a chain that includes all creation and so to respect all elements, including plants and minerals, because, in my opinion, the balance is exactly given from the well-being in our surroundings. My religion does not seek the principle, you want to call it creator, regulator or chaos makes no difference. But I think that everything around us has its own logic and this is a thought to which I turn when I'm in difficulty, perhaps giving the names I've learned as a child, maybe because I lack the imagination to find out other ones »

After the kidnapping, the religious vision of De André had a new development;

«While I was abducted, it helped me to find faith in men, just where there wasn't faith in God. I have always said that God is a human invention, something utilitarian, a patch on the fragility ... But, however, with the kidnapping something has changed. I've not changed my mind, but it is certain that today swearing at least embarrasses me. »[10]

Discography[edit]

Albums[11][edit]

Compilations[edit]

  • Tutto Fabrizio De André (1966)
  • La canzone di Marinella (1968)
  • Nuvole barocche (1968)
  • Fabrizio De André (also known as the Black Anthology) (1976)
  • Fabrizio De André (also known as the Blue Anthology) (1986)
  • Il viaggio (1991)
  • La canzone di Marinella (1995, reissue)
  • Mi innamoravo di tutto (1997)
  • Da Genova (1999)
  • Peccati di gioventù (2000)
  • In direzione ostinata e contraria (2005)
  • In direzione ostinata e contraria 2 (2006)

Live albums[edit]

  • Fabrizio De André in concerto (1979)
  • Fabrizio De André in concerto vol. 2 (1980)
  • 1991 concerti (1991)
  • In concerto (1999)
  • Ed avevamo gli occhi troppo belli (2001)
  • In concerto volume II (2001)
  • Fabrizio De André e PFM in concerto (2007)

Singles[edit]

  • "Nuvole barocche"/"E fu la notte" (1960)
  • "La ballata del Michè"/"La ballata dell'eroe" (1961)
  • "Il fannullone"/"Carlo Martello ritorna dalla battaglia di Poitiers" (1963)
  • "Il testamento"/"La ballata del Michè" (1963)
  • "La guerra di Piero"/"La ballata dell'eroe" (1964)
  • "Valzer per un amore"/"La canzone di Marinella" (1964)
  • "Per i tuoi larghi occhi"/"Fila la lana" (1965)
  • "La città vecchia"/"Delitto di paese" (1965)
  • "La canzone dell'amore perduto"/"La ballata dell'amore cieco (o della vanità)" (1966)
  • "Geordie"/"Amore che vieni, amore che vai" (1966)
  • "Preghiera in Gennaio"/"Si chiamava Gesù" (1967)
  • "Via del Campo"/"Bocca di rosa" (1967)
  • "Caro amore"/"Spiritual" (1967)
  • "La canzone di Barbara"/"Carlo Martello ritorna dalla battaglia di Poitiers" (1968)
  • "La canzone di Marinella"/"Amore che vieni, amore che vai" (1968)
  • "Il gorilla"/"Nell'acqua della chiara fontana" (1969)
  • "Leggenda di Natale"/"Inverno" (1969)
  • "Il pescatore"/"Marcia nuziale" (1970)
  • "La stagione del tuo amore"/"Spiritual" (1970)
  • "Nuvole barocche"/"E fu la notte" (1971, reissue)
  • "Un matto (Dietro ogni scemo c'è un villaggio)"/"Un giudice" (1971)
  • "Suzanne"/"Giovanna d'Arco" (1972)
  • "La cattiva strada"/"Amico fragile" (1974)
  • "Il pescatore"/"Carlo Martello ritorna dalla battaglia di Poitiers" (1978)
  • "Una storia sbagliata"/"Titti" (1980)

Novels[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ The Observer, p.50 18 January 2009
  2. ^ RICONOSCIMENTI - Vie
  3. ^ RICONOSCIMENTI - Piazze
  4. ^ RICONOSCIMENTI - Parchi
  5. ^ RICONOSCIMENTI - Biblioteche
  6. ^ RICONOSCIMENTI - Scuole
  7. ^ "Wim Wenders su Fabrizio de André". YouTube. 2008-11-13. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  8. ^ Contained in the DVD of the show.
  9. ^ Livio Gatti Bottoglia, Non al denaro, non all'amore né al cielo, mensile Civetta, marzo 1999
  10. ^ Contained in L'amore sacro, l'amor profano – omaggio a Fabrizio De André, a cura di Piero Ameli, BURsenzafiltro, Bergamo, 2006. Allegato al DVD Omaggio a Fabrizio De André, concerto tributo registrato il 10 luglio 2005 all'Anfiteatro Romano di Cagliari. ISBN 88-17-01296-3.
  11. ^ (Italian) Discography of Fabrizio De André

External links[edit]