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You silly Italians with your love of English-language songs even though you have no idea what they mean! You crack me up. I love you. You make me warm inside, even as I chuckle sardonically each time I hear a DJ attempt to translate a song title – half the time, you dorks are wrong. I also laugh when you claim that everything in Italy is better and that nothing America makes is any good – which is why your favorite movies come from Hollywood, your sneakers are Nike, and Nirvana is your favorite band. But I digress.
I’m fascinated by the pervasiveness of English-language music around the world. How did we get the monopoly on far-reaching tunes? Why aren’t English speakers more open to embracing music from other cultures? It’s not as though other countries don’t produce amazing music – yet, at music stores back home, “World Music” is usually banished to a single lonely shelf.
I can’t enjoy a song if I don’t understand the words is a common argument. Certainly, there’s something to be said for being able to “get” all facets of a song: every once in a while, my Italian friends will ask me to translate a song for them and in the 60s and 70s, many chart-topping American songs were covered by Italian singers to make them more accessible to Italian audiences. But – and feel free to argue with me if I’m wrong – in the end, it’s the beat that makes the music, so usually, it goes like this:
My friends: I’m honey, honey, honey, honey.
Me: What the hell are you singing?
My friends: I’m honey?
Me: It’s “I’m horny”, not “I’m honey.”
My friends: Oh. I’m horny, horny, horny, horny.
Me: Do you even know what that means?
My friends: No.
Me: Do you want to know?
My friends: I guess. Sure. Whatever.
You can protest all you want, but I don’t believe for a second that if you heard a fantastic song in another language that you wouldn’t love it. To test my theory, I present you with Ten Italian Songs You Would Love if You Knew They Existed. The older songs are songs my parents raised me on and the more recent ones are songs I’ve come into contact with since I’ve been living in this crazy boot.
The reason you will love these songs is because I love them and you and I – we always agree.
I’m in Vienna and hungover but it’s Friday and I promised you (or mainly myself) to pop out an Old Man Antonio fix on this holiest of days so:
OLD MAN ANTONIO: Liv, I’m going now.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: I’m tired. I’m going straight to bed.
ME: No partying tonight?
OLD MAN ANTONIO: Hah! Where? This town is dead.
MAFALDA: I’m going to the Penelope Club.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: To do what?!
MAFALDA: Drink, dance.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: But you’re old like me. Why the fuck do you want to do that?
MAFALDA: It’s fun. I may be old but I’m not dead. I can still go out and enjoy myself. The Penelope Club is nice.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: You mean The Prostate Club.
November 4, 2011 in Old Man Antonio
OLD MAN ANTONIO: All men cheat on their wives.
ME: Is that so.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: Yes. In fact, there is only one woman a man will never cheat on.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: Yes. A pumitrozzola.
ME: A what now?
OLD MAN ANTONIO: A pumitrozzola. It’s a portmanteau. PU – puttana*- MI – mignotta* - TRO – troia* – ZZO – zzoccola* – LA – latrina*. A woman who is a pumitrozzola will never get cheated on.
*whore, whore, whore, whore, whore
ME: So men should marry whores?
OLD MAN ANTONIO: That’s not what I’m saying.
ME: That’s exactly what you’re saying.
November 2, 2011 in Uncategorized
A few months ago, I was interviewed by Blog Expat for their Expat Interviews feature; a lovely time was had by all. Answering the questions made me reflect deeply on my years living abroad – how did I get here (Ryan Air)? What advice would I give other expats (stock up on Jell-O)? But the question I had the toughest time answering was: What is the biggest myth about your adopted country? Now that was a real head-scratcher; a real Sophie’s Choice of a question. In the end, I went with perhaps the largest myth I encounter: Italy is paradise; nothing bad ever happens there; it’s beautiful delicious dreamland; how dare you complain about anything if you live there? Right… if you’re just on vacation and don’t have to deal with bills, work, garbage build-up, and the giant, unreliable pain in the ass that is the Italian public system.
But I digress. While I greatly enjoyed getting that off my chest, I soon realized that I was still unfulfilled. Had I really done enough? This ring. This watch. There are more Italian myths I want to bust for you. Here. Take my hand. Take a breath. And prepare to get your cultural preconceptions rocked.