On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Lucio Battisti – Il mio canto libero (1972)
Time to leave the US, dear reader, and we’re returning to Europe. After crossing the Atlantic and reaching mainland Europe we make our way down to Italy. Today’s guest was a hugely influential artist in Italy in the late 1960s and 1970s with a career stretching across more than 20 years. Lucio Battisti had already enjoyed success in the 1960s but we pick up his story in 1972 when he was working in collaboration with lyricist, Mogol. One of their most famous compositions has landed a place on our list – Il mio canto libero.
Il mio canto libero translates as My Free Song and Mogol took inspiration for this from the end of his marriage and his subsequent relationship with a younger woman. The song itself speaks of two lovers, with Lucio Battisti being the narrator addressing his partner. Their love is shared and glows bright but the world around them is not a kind one, uncompromising and changing complexion, as the lovers enjoy their blissful youth. Our narrator beseeches his lover though to keep what they have going, their young love is giving way to their respective maturity, but he assures her he will be by her side throughout so long as she desires this. As the world and time turns, our lovers go from young and free, to adult and more at the mercy of the world’s constraints, but it isn’t all bad though. The narrator closes the song with the consolation that he can now rediscover his lover once more and that new emotions are to be embraced, rather than feared.
It’s always good to visit different countries and although we have been to Italy previously on our journey, it feels like a while since we did so. I wasn’t familiar with Lucio Battisti or his work but Il mio canto libero is a sumptuous piece with Battisti’s vocals well supported by a group of musicians which sounds like a whole orchestra behind him at times. Special mention also goes to Nora Orlandi who provides some beautiful accompanying vocals. By the 1980s the shy Battisiti had retreated from the public eye, releasing his music but doing few interviews or live shows. A very private man, Battisti died in 1998 at the age of 55 in a hospital in Milan with cancer said to be the cause. A huge outpouring of grief followed in Italy.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
The Kinks – Days (1968)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Carly Simon – You’re So Vain (1972)