Canzone #4: “Lilly” by Antonello Venditti (1975)
This rather bleak song about a heroin-addicted young woman was put to brilliant use in the second season of Romanzo Criminale (watch the scene here, but beware of spoilers and drug use)
“Lilly” must have seemed pretty radical when it was first released. Lou Reed may have been singing about heroin in the late 60s, but culturally, 1960s New York and 1970s Rome were decades apart. Singing about sex and/or drugs in Catholic Italy was controversial, even if the lyrics were vague. “Lilly” never directly mentions heroin, but the topic is clear.
Quattro buchi nella pelle
carta di giornale
nuda e senza scarpe
bianca, e non in ospedale
senza denti per mangiare
una montagna di rifiuti
nessun latte ti potrà salvare…
While reading about Antonello Venditti, I found this entertaining bit of trivia on Wikipedia:
In October 2009 Venditti was criticized for asking, during a concert in Sicily, “Why did God create Calabria?” and declaring that “there is really nothing” in Calabria. Calabria is a region in South Italy. In the past it was colonized by the ancient Greeks and became the cradle of Magna Graecia, but now it is also the base of the modern crime organization ‘ndrangheta. Venditti later made peace with Calabria over a cup of good coffee at his house in Rome with the mayor of Reggio Calabria, Giuseppe Scopelliti.
Antonello Venditti – anti-drugs, anti-Calabria. Also, further proof that coffee is the answer to everything.