Canzone #6: “Albachiara” by Vasco Rossi (1979)
I have no idea how to explain Vasco Rossi.
I think he’s one of those phenomenons that can only really be understood if you’re Italian. Perhaps. He’s the Italian equivalent of certain kinds of British humour (Withnail & I, for example, or The League of Gentlemen). If you’re not British, you probably won’t get it, so you probably won’t like it. All right, Vasco Rossi is a singer-songwriter, not comedy, and music is supposed to more universal than comedy, but that’s the best analogy I can think of. To an outsider, he looks a bit like a wild-eyed, middle-aged mechanic having a go at karaoke. In other words, if you don’t understand Italian, you may not understand his appeal. It took me a while to properly appreciate him – his talent as a songwriter, his importance as the “rebel” of Italian popular music.
I like Vasco Rossi, but I don’t like Vasco Rossi like the Italians like Vasco Rossi. Italians love Vasco Rossi. Especially Italian men of a certain age. But he has plenty of female fans too. Valeriano once gave me a mix CD of Vasco Rossi songs – all of them were about women. Songs like “Silvia” and “Jenny e’ pazza”. Some of them are love songs, while others are more like portraits – scenes in the life of a teenage girl, or reflections on a woman’s nervous breakdown.
I think “Albachiara” was the first song I heard by Vasco Rossi, and it’s still my favourite. An anthemic tribute to a girl chiara come l’alba, fresca come l’aria (“clear like the dawn, fresh like the air”). Self-conscious, shy, studious. Day-dreamer. Masturbator. “Albachiara”was apparently inspired by a teenage girl Vasco often used to see in the street. When the song became a success and she found out that she was “Albachiara”, she was more embarrassed than pleased…
E quando guardi con quegli occhi grandi
forse un po’ troppo sinceri, sinceri
si vede quello che pensi,
quello che sogni….
Qualche volta fai pensieri strani
con una mano, una mano, ti sfiori,
tu sola dentro la stanza
e tutto il mondo fuori