Monday, March 4, 2013

Remembering Lucio Dalla

Lucio Dalla was born on March 4, 1943 in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Dalla belonged to a genre of Italian songwriters known as “cantautori,” whose lyrics gave voice to the aspirations and frustrations of a postwar generation seeking societal change. But Dalla’s popularity spanned decades as he participated in the San Remo Festival of Italian song, a popular competition. Widely respected as one of the fathers of contemporary Italian popular music, Lucio is remembered as a national poet of rare sensibility.

His birthday ‘March 4, 1943’ became the title of one of his first hits, in 1971, after the original name, “Baby Jesus,” was censored. His lyrics were eclectic, ranging from the lives of ordinary people to his love for the sea and his passion for cars. He wrote about the environment and religion and, of course, he wrote about love. Dalla’s first musical passion was opera, which was sparked when he played a role in Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” when he was 7, according to an article Mr. Dalla wrote in 2009 for the Milan daily Corriere Della Sera. He was then enraptured by jazz, and learned to play the clarinet. He also played saxophone and piano.  At 16 he performed with Chet Baker, the American jazz trumpeter, whom he credited as one of his main influences. He hit his stride in 1971 with a series of albums that sold well and drew critical acclaim. One of his best-known songs, “Caruso,” sold millions of copies and has been recorded by a long list of singers including Julio Iglesias, Luciano Pavarotti and Josh Groban. “Caruso” was a single on Mr. Dalla’s “Dall Ameri Caruso” album, a live recording of a 1986 tour that included the United States and Canada.

He also wrote music for films, as well as an opera, “Tosca. Amore disperato” (Tosca. Desperate Love), which was inspired by Puccini’s opera and had its debut in Rome in 2003. Lucio appeared in over 20 film and TV appearances including two Euro-westerns: “A Fistful of Songs” (1966) and “Litte Rita of the West” (1967).

Dalla died from a heart attack on March 1, 2012 in Montreux, Switzerland at the age of 68. Today we remember Lucio Dalla on what would have been his 70th birthday.

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