The song is dedicated to the memory of Fabrizio's longtime friend Luigi Tenco, who had committed suicide in January that year, after taking part in the Italian Song Festival of Sanremo and failing to advance to the final competition. The lyrics deal with the theme of suicide and the Church's systematic condemnation of those who kill themselves.
The singer narrates the story of Jesus in an avanguardist way, saying that his goal isn't to glorify someone who he believes was "nothing but a man gone down in history as a god".[notes 4] While maintaining an atheist point of view, De André shows great respect and admiration toward the human figure of Jesus, who he defined "the greatest revolutionary of all history".
In this song, partly inspired by Genoan transvestite "Morena", De André expresses his sympathy to the lower social classes. Via del Campo was an infamous street of Genoa, known in the 1960s as home to prostitutes, transvestites and poor people. This composition features the music of an Enzo Jannacci song, "La mia morosa la và alla fonte", which De André erroneously believed to be a medieval ballad rediscovered by Dario Fo. Jannacci recorded the song himself for his 1988 album Vengo anch'io. No, tu no.
When the album was reissued in 1971 under the newly-born Produttori Associati label, the song, whose music is taken from the second movement Adagio of Joaquín Rodrigo's 1939Concierto de Aranjuez, was taken out of the album under request of Rodrigo himself, who did not approve the use of De André's lyrics with his music. The song was eventually replaced with "La stagione del tuo amore" ("The Season of Your Love"), which would be featured in every following reissue.
Possibly based on Brassens' song "Brave Margot" (1952), it is one of De André's most well-known songs and, as stated by the singer himself, the one that "resembles him the most".
The song tells the story of a foreign girl (Bocca di rosa, who is not a prostitute since -as the song states- she never asks for money), whose passional and libertine behaviour upsets the women of the small town of Sant'Ilario. Seeing her conduct as unacceptable, the women turn to the Police commissioner, who sends four gendarmes to put her on the first train out of town. All the men in town gather at the station to send her their regards to the woman who "brought love to the town". At the following station, she is greeted by even more people, including the priest, who wants her to be by his side during the subsequent procession, not far from the statue of the Virgin Mary, thus "carrying around town sacred love and profane love".[notes 5]
Bocca di Rosa's character was reproposed, with different connotations, in the novel Un destino ridicolo, co-written by De André and writer Alessandro Gennari.
According to newspaper Il Secolo XIX, the inspirer of the song died June 14, 2010, aged 88, in Sampierdarena hospital, in Genoa. De André's widow, Dori Ghezzi, and his longtime friend Paolo Villaggio both denied De André ever meeting her, despite the singer having stated otherwise to newspaper Repubblica in 1996.
"Bocca di Rosa" was re-recorded with different lyrics for the first reissue of the album. The fictional town of Sant'Ilario, named after an actual suburb of Genoa, was renamed "San Vicario". Also, after "polite pressures from the corps of Carabinieri", a line was taken out of the lyrics which criticized the law enforcement corps (with explicit mention of the Carabinieri). This "censored" version of the song would be featured in every following reissue. The original version was included in the posthumous2005compilation albumIn direzione ostinata e contraria.
The music for this song is taken from "Le verger de Roi Louis", composed by Georges Brassens with lyrics by Théodore de Banville. The main theme is the inevitability of death, which strikes without any warning, regardless of the identity of the victim, unstoppable.
"Carlo Martello ritorna dalla battaglia di Poitiers"
("Charles Martel Returns from the Battle of Poitiers")
The song is a parody of the Christian medieval tradition based on the historical figure Charles Martel.
Martel, returning victorious after the Battle of Tours, is "feeling love yearnings more than body wounds"[notes 6] and uses his position as king to obtain sexual favors from a beautiful peasant girl. Then, when the girl demands payment for her "services" afterwards, Martel quickly hops on his horse and rides away in a comical fashion.
The song imitates an ancient Occitanlyricgenre, the "Pastorela", which revolved around the meeting of knights with shepherdesses in bucolic sets such as brooks and stretches of water.
The idea for the song was born on a day of November 1962, when De André and Paolo Villaggio were at Villaggio's house in Genoa, both waiting for their wives to give birth. De André played the melody on a guitar and Villaggio, very fond of history, immediately thought of writing lyrics to it about Charles Martel. A week later, the lyrics were ready.
Several poetic licenses are used in the lyrics:
The song had been first released as the B-side of a single in 1963 and was re-recorded for the album with some differences, namely the marked Bolognese accent of the De André's interpretation of the girl and trumpetsolos between each verse.