Bartali

Tomorrow the Tour the France 2008 will kick off in Brest, in the French region of Brittany. Never mind the drugs and the scandals and the politics of Le Tour – it is a grand sporting event with a rich history and it has been an inspiration for generations of artists and musicians.

One of the great songs about the Tour de France is Bartali by Paolo Conte. Typically, the song is not really about the Tour as such: Conte isn’t that kind of songwriter. He uses the figure of cycling champion Gino Bartali, a national hero, to tell a little story about a man and his female companion, somewhere on a mountain top. Then go to the cinema, go yourself!

Here’s the lyrics, with a translation which may not be totally flawless. Feel free to comment.

Farà piacere un bel mazzo di rose
e anche il rumore che fa il cellophane
ma un birra fa gola di più
in questo giorno appiccicoso di caucciù

I’d love a nice bouquet of roses
And the sound of the plastic wrapper as well
But a beer is the tastier option
On this day as sticky as rubber

Sono seduto in cima a un paracarro
e sto pensando agli affari miei
tra una moto e l’altra c’è un silenzio
che descriverti non saprei

I am sitting on a milestone at the mountain top
And I am thinking of my everyday affairs
Between one motorbike and the next one there’s a silence
I wouldn’t know how to describe to you

Oh, quanta strada nei miei sandali
quanta ne avrà fatta Bartali
quel naso triste come una salita
quegli occhi allegri da italiano in gita
e i francesi ci rispettano
che le balle ancora gli girano
e tu mi fai – dobbiamo andare al cine –
e vai al cine, vacci tu

Oh, how many roads under my sandals
How many didn’t Bartali pass
That sad nose like an ascent
Those happy eyes of an Italian on an outing
And the French, they respected him
Even though he twisted their balls
And you make me – we have to go to the cinema –
Then go to the cinema, go yourself

è tutto un complesso di cose
che fa si che io mi fermi qui
le donne a volte si sono scontrose
o forse han voglia di far la pipì.
E tramonta questo giorno in arancione
e si gonfia di ricordi che non sai
mi piace restar qui sullo stradone
impolverato, se tu vuoi andare, vai…

It’s a whole complex of things
Which made me stop here
Sometimes women are bad-tempered
Or have a need to go and have a pee
Today the sunset is coloured in orange
And is full of memories you don’t know about
I like to stay here on the dusty road
If you want to go, then go

e vai che io sto qui e aspetto Bartali
scalpitando sui miei sandali
da quella curva spunterà
quel naso triste da italiano allegro
tra i francesi che si incazzano
e i giornali che svolazzano
C’è un po’ di vento, abbaia la campagna
e c’è una luna in fondo al blu…

Then go while I stay here and wait for Bartali
Stamping my feet in my sandals
From behind that bend he will appear
That sad nose of a happy Italian
Amidst the French who are getting angry
And the newspapers which are fluttering about
There’s a little wind, the countryside barks
And in the distant blue there is a moon

Tra i francesi che si incazzano
e i giornali che svolazzano
e tu mi fai – dobbiamo andare al cine –
e vai al cine, vacci tu!

Amidst the French who are getting angry
And the newspapers which are fluttering about
And you make me – we have to go to the cinema –
Then go to the cinema, go yourself!

(Dedicated to the last great Dutch radio sports commentator, Jacques Chapel, who died today, aged 62)

(pictured is Gino Bartali. Source: Wikipedia)
Advertisements

One Comment

Comments are closed.