Football is an important part of the life of many Italians. You read the news in the newspapers, you follow the games on TV. We get excited and beat down, fight with our colleagues and friends, make bets, and harbor hopes. And we have been doing it for decades, because football, for better or for worse, is one of the most representative faces of us and of Italy.
It is therefore inevitable that, over the years, some songwriters have tried to put our passion into music. To grasp the most poetic or intense aspects, and to put them on a pentagram. In reality, however, the football songs are fewer than one would expect. Perhaps because it is not easy to remain detached and at the same time be able to grasp the magic and emotion of those moments.
FROM GREAT BRITAIN TO ITALY
If you can console us, this difficulty is not only for Italian. Even in Great Britain, the home of both football and pop music, significant football tracks are quite a few. Much more often, fans adapt pieces of love or any other subject by turning them into the anthems of their teams (as in the case of You’ll Never Walk Alone, Blue Moon, or others). Of course, someone has tried to write pieces about football, but the results do not always live up to expectations.
However, if one searches the archives carefully, one can find something valid in Italy. These are pieces that perhaps make football a metaphor for life, or that celebrate its festive atmosphere. Songs were written mostly by songwriters, people who do not feel at all uncomfortable looking for poetry in the little everyday things. Here they are, then, with a quotation of their most significant verses and a few notes on their history.
Francesco De Gregori – The footballing lever of the 1968 class
Nino, don’t be afraid to take a penalty kick
The most beautiful song that has ever been written in Italy about the game of football is probably Francesco De Gregori’s La Leva della classe ’68. Not surprisingly, it is used every time you want to tell about this sport, beyond cheering and money. Little Nino who doesn’t have to be afraid to take a penalty kick is the symbol of all the players who wear studded shoes and start running after a ball. Of all the hopes and fears that chase us on the grass.
The song was written in 1980, and in fact tells of a 12-year-old boy, born in 1968. It was included in the eighth album of the Roman singer-songwriter, Titanic, where it actually represents a moment of leisure from what in other ways would seem like a concept album. The central theme of that record is in fact the story of the ocean liner that sank in 1912. An ocean liner that becomes the metaphor of the drift towards which modern society seems to be heading, confident towards the future but for this very reason unable to foresee its own ruin.
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The story of Nino, on the other hand, for this very reason may well be within that record. Because if adults face ruin, there is however a new generation – born not by chance in 1968 – which is preparing to face the challenges of life. And maybe, if he can understand what are the “details” with which “a player is judged”, he will be able to guide us towards a better future.
Nino understood from the first moment,
the coach seemed happy
and then he put his heart inside his shoes
and ran faster than the wind.
He took a ball that seemed bewitched,
next to his foot remained glued,
entered the area, threw without looking
and the goalkeeper let him pass.
But Nino, don’t be afraid to take a penalty kick,
it’s not from these details that you judge a player,
you see a player by courage, altruism and imagination.
Ligabue – A life as a midfielder
The role of the hard worker
If De Gregori’s little Nino represented the youngsters of the new generation who must go beyond the failures of their fathers, Ligabue’s median instead represents adult men who do their part without getting too noticed. Strongly autobiographical, the song was inserted by the Emilian singer in his album Miss World.
The album, released in 1999, was the first of its unreleased after the unexpected success of Happy Birthday Elvis, four years earlier. In between had been the double live Up and Down from a Stage. And then the film Radiofreccia, which had engaged Ligabue for several months. Miss World was therefore the first real musical exam after the boom. And A life as a median became – paradoxically – its symbol. Because it was strange that a singer who had managed to break through and even makes a critically acclaimed film would come out immediately calling himself the opposite of a champion.
A life as a midfielder,
born without good feet,
working on the lungs.
A life as a midfielder,
with specific tasks,
covering certain areas,
there in the middle.
As long as you have some, stay there.
The midfielder is what Ligabue thought he was, both on the football pitch and on the music field. One who struggles, who recovers balls, who does the “dirty work” but who does not have the air of a champion, does not have the flicker and perhaps not even the ability to collect applause as a number 10 does. Yet he is one who wins ” in case the World Cup ». Like Lele Oral. And like Ligabue himself, who after so much apprenticeship had managed to breakthrough.
Gianna Nannini and Edoardo Bennato – An Italian summer
The anthem of Italy ’90
Very often, music and football meet in the more or less official anthems of the various teams. We mentioned, in the beginning, some famous English songs, but also in Italy, we are not far behind. Sometimes traditional songs are used, other times pop pieces. Only in certain cases are the songs written specifically for the team.
For example, for some years Napoli has been using O ‘surdato’ nnammurato . Sampdoria instead relied on an old song by Rino Gaetano, But the sky is always bluer. Inter has gone from Amala to There is only Elio’s Inter and the Tense Stories. And then Rome with the songs of Venditti, from Rome Rome Rome to Grazie Roma, Milan, Juve, dozens of other teams.
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In addition to sports clubs, large events also have their own anthems. Surely you know the Champions League one and remember the ones from the recent World Cup, sometimes sung by stars like Shakira. But, if you are of a certain age, you cannot have forgotten the anthem of Italy ’90, the World Cup that took place in our country almost thirty years ago. The song was called An Italian Summer but is also known as Magic Nights. It was written by Giorgio Moroder for the music and by Gianna Nannini and Edoardo Bennato for the text. And it was the two of them who sang it.
chasing a goal,
under the sky
of an Italian summer.
And in your eyes the
will to win.
one more adventure.
Roberto Vecchioni – Lights at San Siro
Love in the Fog of Milan
Not always to sing about football you have to put into verse the run-up to a ball, the shot on goal, or the penalty kick. Sometimes it is enough to evoke the atmosphere of a stadium, without ever mentioning actions and players. This is what happens, for example, in Luci a San Siro, one of the most beautiful songs by Roberto Vecchioni. The title of which could refer to any glimpse of the homonymous Milanese district, but, due to some details (the grass, precisely the lights), everyone has always identified with the stadium of Milan and Inter.
In reality, the text evokes the Milanese fog, but it deals with something else entirely. It is the story of the pressures suffered by the young singer-songwriter by his record managers, who ask him to talk about “more fashionable” things in his songs, such as “about women for good morals” (but in the first version it was “about sex, prostitution »). And of the fact that then he remembers his youthful love for him, with which, aboard a Seicento, he went to play in the fog of San Siro.
My Milan, take me away, it’s so cold,
I suck and I can’t take it anymore.
Let’s make a change, take
that little bit of money, that little bit of celebrity,
but give me back my seventeenth century,
my twenties and a girl you know.
Milan, sorry, I was joking,
lights at San Siro will no longer turn on.
The song was released in 1971 on the Parabola album. That was the first record of a Vecchioni at the time not yet thirty, even if the singer-songwriter had been working in the record industry for some time writing the lyrics for many songs performed by others. Recorded with little means and in a hurry, it was still a very immature record in music and arrangements, but in which some pieces stood out that would have allowed Vecchioni to show off. Including precisely Luci at San Siro, his first classic.
Rita Pavone – The ball game
A teenager at the top of the charts
We close with a slightly older and certainly more disengaged piece, which however well captures the love of Italians for football. This is The ball game, written by Carlo Rossi for the words and Edoardo Vianello for the music. The song was conceived for Cocky Mazzetti, a Milanese singer at the height of his career. But what really brought her to success was Rita Pavone, a teenager practically caught out of nowhere.
Born in 1945, in those years the Turin singer was unknown to most. She was discovered, in 1962, at the Festival of the unknowns of Ariccia by Teddy Reno, who immediately made her debut on TV. Her appearances on the High-Pressure program convinced the record companies to have her record songs of her, the first of which was La Gioco di, Ballo. And surprisingly, the song, sung in a reckless way, jumped to the top of the charts.
do you always leave me alone on Sundays
to go and see the
don’t you take me once too?
From there, Peacock’s career would literally take off. Within a few weeks, they arrived Sul cucuzzolo, Like you, there is no one, The brick dance and Give me a hammer, all sensational successes. Finally, in 1964, she too became a television celebrity with Gian Burrasca’s Il Giorno, a series introduced by the song Viva la pappa col Pomodoro.
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