Dubbed a Communist and a Gay man by my father, Lucio Dalla and his music was strictly forbidden in our house. To think of this today, it sounds impossible, yet growing up in a small village in Northern Italy in a conservative Italian family, this was the norm. I still remember like it was yesterday when my father stormed my middle school and removed me from the classroom because he discovered that the day before the class was “exposed” to a re-run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar”. As he dragged me off, his last words to the staff were “God Damn Hippies”, and I would never see my classmates again. What was the result of this strict censorship on me? Clearly the absolute need for me to chase every Communist idea, every profane form of art, and an endless curiosity for all that was forbidden, bottom line I CONSUMED Lucio Dalla’s albums, and this one is a Giant of an album.
To my American friends, what can I say? Some say that Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan are poets, well, Lucio Dalla for us Italians who grew up during the 70’s is simply the movie of our life and each song paints in infinite details what daily life was for a lot of us. Take track 1 from Side B “Anna e Marco”, at one point the lyrics go
“… poi c’e qualcuno che trova una moto, si puo’ andare in citta’… “
“… and then someone finds a scooter, we can go to the city… “
Innocuous words, yet anyone who grew up in the desperation that was Italy’s suburbs or countryside KNOWS how you simply had nothing to do all day, immense spans of time filled with boredom … poi c’e qualcuno che trova una moto, si puo’ andare in citta’… and 3 of us would climb on top of a 50 cc Ciao and like circus clowns would sputter towards the city, filled with immense joy and the thought that we may meet a girl, or at worst have a gelato.
Lucio Dalla’s 1979 Self-titled release is a memorable record, and will remain such for the rest of my life, and each song will continue to hold a special meaning for most Italians who grew up listening to it. Apart from wonderful melodies, magnificent arrangements by the master Gian Piero Reverberi, the true strength of this record are the lyrics and the way they capture a small insignificant moment, or a giant concept like the future (L’anno Che Verra), or better yet life itself (L’ultima Luna).
I have been listening to this record for over 40 years I do not recall a single time when I skipped a song, interrupted it, or not liked it. Each time it evokes happiness, sadness, love, pain and joy and emotionally for me this record is forever in my Top 10 and musically easily in my Top 100.