Azzurro (Blue)

Azzurro is the kind of evergreen you are bound to hear whenever a group of Italians gather and sing, such as around a campfire or on a school trip. The melody is very simple and easy to follow, and its endearing lyrics are the sort of noncontroversial stuff teachers can manage.

Make no mistake, all of this didn’t happen by chance. In fact, the tune was composed in the year 1968 by the yet budding maestro Paolo Conte as one of his famous experiments in distilling folk and highbrow music together. The lyrics were written by Vito Pallavicini, who in those years was probably the hottest pop songwriter around, and the original performer came from superstar Adriano Celentano. The latter, by the way, was forced to record the production take even if he had a bad cold that day. This accident turned Azzurro in a rather intimate-sounding song, adding to its mystique instead of ruining it as everyone thought. On a linguistic note: in Italian the word ‘blue’ (that’s the meaning of ‘azzurro’) is not a synonym of sadness like in the English language. The correlation between the title and the malaise expressed by the protagonist is just a coincidence.

Italian lyrics

Cerco l’estate tutto l’anno
e all’improvviso eccola qua.
Lei è partita per le spiagge
e sono solo quassù in città,
sento fischiare sopra i tetti
un aeroplano che se ne va.

Azzurro,
il pomeriggio è troppo azzurro
e lungo per me.
Mi accorgo
di non avere più risorse,
senza di te,
e allora
io quasi quasi prendo il treno
e vengo, vengo da te,
ma il treno dei desideri
nei miei pensieri all’incontrario va.

Sembra quand’ero all’oratorio,
con tanto sole, tanti anni fa.
Quelle domeniche da solo
in un cortile, a passeggiar…
ora mi annoio più di allora,
neanche un prete per chiacchierar…

Azzurro,
il pomeriggio è troppo azzurro
e lungo per me.
Mi accorgo
di non avere più risorse,
senza di te,
e allora
io quasi quasi prendo il treno
e vengo, vengo da te,
ma il treno dei desideri
nei miei pensieri all’incontrario va.

Cerco un po’ d’Africa in giardino,
tra l’oleandro e il baobab,
come facevo da bambino,
ma qui c’è gente, non si può più,
stanno innaffiando le tue rose,
non c’è il leone, chissà dov’è…

Azzurro,
il pomeriggio è troppo azzurro
e lungo per me.
Mi accorgo
di non avere più risorse,
senza di te,
e allora
io quasi quasi prendo il treno
e vengo, vengo da te,
ma il treno dei desideri
nei miei pensieri all’incontrario va.

English lyrics

All year I look for summer
and then, suddenly, it’s here.
She left for the beach
and I’m up here, alone in the city.
I hear whistling above the roof,
an airplane taking off.

Blue,
the afternoon is so blue
and long for me.
I’m useless without you,
and so
I’m about to take the train to you
but the train of desires
in my thoughts goes the other way.

Like it was at the clubhouse
so many years ago,
with so much sun.
Those Sundays all alone
in the courtyard, strolling…
I’m even more bored than then
not even a priest to talk to..

Blue,
the afternoon is so blue
and so long for me.
I’m useless without you,
and so
I’m about to take the train to you
but the train of desires
in my thoughts goes the other way.

I’m looking for a bit of Africa in the garden
between the oleander and the baobab
as I used to do as a child
but there are people, so it’s not possible,
they are watering your roses,
and there’s no lion, who knows where he is…

Blue,
the afternoon is so blue
and so long for me.
I’m useless without you,
and so
I’m about to take the train to you
but the train of desires
in my thoughts goes the other way.