Fabrizio De André


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

Fabrizio De André (18 February 1940 - 11 January 1999) was an Italian singer-songwriter. In his works he often told stories of marginalized and rebellious people, prostitutes and knaves, and attacked the Catholic Church.[1] In Italy and in the rest of world he is considered a poet because of the quality of his lyrics. He was an atheist.[2]

Contents

Biography

De André was born in Genova, 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 the war broke out, the De Andre' family had to seek refuge in a country farm near Revignano (a little town near Asti), in the Piemonte. Fabrizio's father, who was an Anti-fascista pursued by the police, joined the partisans. In 1945 the De André family moved back to Genova. 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 of the University of Genova; but he did not graduate (he gave up when he had only a few exams left). De Andre' played the violin first, then the guitar, and joined a number of local jazz bands (jazz was his "first love").

First recordings

In 1961 De Andre' 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 the 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 closest friends), and "La canzone di Marinella" ("Marinella's Song").

Volume 1

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

In 1970 De André wrote La buona novella ("The Good News" - 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 together 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

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

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

In 1975 De André (who, meanwhile, 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 broadcastings), and planned to move to Sardinia with his new love. To this purpose, he bought the Agnata homestead, near Tempio Pausania, in the northern part of the island, devoting 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

1979 was another milestone in De André's life. The year began with a series of famous live concerts from which a double LP is 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, a most striking episode occurred: De André and Ghezzi were kidnapped for ransom by a gang of bandits in Sardinia and held prisoners in the Alà dei Sardi mountains. The couple was released four months later; ransom was reportedly paid; as De André states in some interviews he was helped by his father in finding the money, and had to start a tour shortly after the release of the "Indiano" album to repay him. When the bandits were apprehended by the police, De André was called as witness before the Court. He showed compassion for some of his kidnappers, since he was well treated by his "guardians" and declared his solidarity with them. "They were the real prisoners, not I", he said. This declaration is a good example of De André's viewpoint and approach.[citation needed] 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 dramatic episode, and the hard life of the Sardinian people, gave him inspiration for his following album, released in 1981. The album is untitled, but, from the image of a Native American appearing on the cover, the mass-media call 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 album 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

In 1984 he turned to his native Genoese dialect and wrote, in collaboration with former PFM member Mauro Pagani, one of his most celebrated albums, Crêuza de mä ("Path to the sea", the term "Crêuza" actually indicates 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 an unending series of prizes and was greeted as "the best Italian album of the 1980s". It was named by David Byrne as one of his favourite albums. Wim Wenders said that it was the album that introduced him to the music of De André, who the director names as one of his favourite artists.[3] As Pagani has repeatedly stated, De Andrè wrote the lyrics for the album, while the music was almost entirely Pagani's.

1990s

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 triumphal live concerts followed, from which a double LP, 1991 Concerti ("Concerts 1991"), was drawn. 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 started a new tour of theatre concerts and a new song collection, called M'innamoravo di tutto ("I Used to Fall in Love with Everything", a quote from one of his older songs, Coda di Lupo - Wolf's Tail), was issued. The Anime salve concert tour went on up to the late summer of 1998, when De André stopped at the first symptoms of a serious disease, 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 an immense crowd of about 20,000. He rests in the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, in the De André family chapel.

Discography

Albums[4]

Compilations & Lives

  • In Concerto - Arrangiamenti PFM (1979)[5]
  • In Concerto - Arrangiamenti PFM Vol. 2 (1980)[5]
  • 1991 Concerti (1991)[5]
  • Mi innamoravo di tutto (1997) (anthology)
  • De André in concerto (1999)[5]
  • Da Genova (2000)[6]
  • Peccati di gioventù (2000)[6]
  • Ed avevamo gli occhi troppo belli (2001)[5]
  • Fabrizio De André in Concerto Volume II (2001)[6]
  • In direzione ostinata e contraria (2005)[6]
  • In direzione ostinata e contraria 2 (2006)[6]

Singles

  • Periodo Karim (1961-66)
  • Il pescatore (1970)
  • Suzanne/Giovanna d'Arco (1972)
  • Una storia sbagliata/Titti (1980)

Novels

Notes and References

External links


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