Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Can't Live Without Them: Dean Martin: "Return To Me" and "Volare"

The accordions and girls are there, and Dean steps in, as into a comfortable pair of slippers, and sings. Or: he sounds a little more awake and lively, stopping all of a sudden to sing in his native tongue, to get his roots into the song and the song into its roots, words that blend and blur (to my ear) wonderfully, the way olive oil and garlic and parmesan and pasta do - words such as these:

"Penso che un sogno cosi non ritorni mai piu/Mi dipingevo le mani e la faccia di blu
/Poi d'improvviso venivo dal vento rapito/E incominciavo a volare nel cielo infinito"

The sky is blue and his heart has wings; his heart has wings because she has indeed come back to him. "Te amo" he sang in the first, and now his love is like a brave warm wind that can carry them both. As someone who has flown over an ocean to be with the one I love three times, I know (despite the dull practicalities of flight) how he feels - to fly, to get to what is real, to get away from the earthbound, to return to someone (though there was never any problems or quarrels, of course).

Of course, when Martin sings about getting away from disillusion, you have to wonder - in this time of existentialists and bohos and so on - how much "Volare" spoke to general post-war feelings that NOW was the only time, the past being a nightmare, the future all but unknowable. To live for the present is close - very close, in fact - to not actually existing in ye olde time-space continuum at all. To be and not to be; that is the Dean Martin $64,000 question, ultimately. And while the song is mainly about the blue in the air and blue paint making the narrator invisible, Domenico Modugno's Eurovision hit (my parents' song, by the way) is, I am guessing, a little bit more romantic - whereas Martin sings it with a nonchalant lightness that treads next to romance, yes, but you know that his ultimate wish to be off the earth, in the clouds and sky so blue is not just a lyric.

"Return To Me" is far more earthbound, Martin's warmth sounding like a man sitting on a chair on the street or perhaps standing underneath her window, longingly singing for her return - he is persuasive and there is no doubt she will return - it is as sweet as a Baci chocolate, complete with a message of love's durability inside. (It was co-written by Carmen Lombardo, so Canada once again sneaks in here, with no one noticing.)

I must note that these songs coincide with the height of what I guess might be called Italophilia in the UK; a mania happily shared by my husband's parents as well as my own. Even though I grew up as (and still am) a Francophile by nature, it is hard to resist anything Italian; not even Virgil himself could have written better lyrics here, and I am sure he would have taken more time to write them than their authors did. Rock, as previously mentioned, still rolled along, but the Vespa scooters, cappucino machines and pizza parlors would remain, along with the sense of blissful nothingness that just skirts something a little strange and unknown, but also warming as a June sky.

1 comment:

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, likes Miss Lena, 'nother Dino-riffic musical reflection. Know that your Dino-prose is bein' shared this very Dino-day at ilovedinomartin...