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Musica (ep. 1) Italians copy it better - The 60s

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

Pasta, pizza and....Music? You all know about Italian food and monuments but what about its music? Enough with Pavarotti and 'Volare', in Italy you will find much more than that!

In this column of 'extra' you will find out curious facts about Italian music and the relationship that Italians have (and had) with this art form and with their international counterparts!

Ancient History

Music is everywhere, and in Italy it is an integral part of society. Going back to more than 2000 years ago, Southern Italy was under the direct control of Greeks, and at the time the beautiful open air theatres were displaying tragedies and comedies with live-music that resounded across those ancient cities. Changing the rulers the music remained more or less the same. Latins were music lovers, and so are Italians today. With a hugh leap forward to modern days, the first Italian song that hit the world was 'Nel blu dipinto di blu' (1958) sung by Domenico Modugno, at the time the Italian language was still known, to the majority of the world, thanks to the 'opera'.

Anni '60

That new Italian song, along with the 'Festival di Sanremo', a music festival broadcasted nationwide on television, opened the way to a new era of music that prepared Italy for the 60s revolution. Many music festivals started around that time across italy : 'Castrocaro', 'il Cantagiro', 'Festivalbar', and more. The change in the attitude towards the music of those years was also clearly shown by the numbers of records sold. The newborn music industry skyrocketed from 18 million of 7" records sold in 1959 to over 44 million ten years later. The age of the buyer was fairly low, and among students and youngsters, many decided to start a band or to sing.

Authors such as Fabrizio De Andrè, and Francesco Guccini led the songwriting folk movement of the 'cantautori', while others like Edoardo Vianello embodied the summer party attitude with a new genre called "canzoni da spiaggia" (summer songs).

In those years other singers such as Caterina Caselli and Adriano Celentano followed the trend proposed by the international surge of rock'n'roll and pop music. That period brought a series of interesting linguistics exchange in music, international artists such as the Rolling Stones and David Bowie released Italian versions of their songs :

'Con le mie lacrime' (Rolling Stones - As tears go by [1966]), 'Ragazzo solo, ragazza sola' (David Bowie - Space Oddity [1969]). From the Italian side, many other translations were made, for instance, Caterina Caselli in 1966 released a 7" with 'Tutto nero' her own version of 'Paint it black', and the band 'i Cuccioli' released 'Tu non sai', in homage to 'The kids are alright" by the Who. What started as a commercial experiment brought to an entire movement of English-isation of the Italian panorama comparable to the attack of the clones!

In the next article, we will discover new Italian artists, and how they reinterpreted various hits from the world!

In the meanwhile here's a nice tracklist of music from the 60s!


Luigi Tenco Mi sono innamorato di te (1962)

Françoise Hardy Quelli della mia età (1963)

Rita Pavone Il ballo del mattone (1963)

Edoardo Vianello Tremarella (1964)

The Rokes Chiama me (1965) Francesco Guccini Noi non ci saremo (1965) Rolling Stones Con le mie lacrime (1966)

Fabrizio De Andrè La ballata dell'amore cieco (1966)

I Cuccioli Tu non sai (1967) Caterina Caselli Insieme a te non ci sto più (1968)

Dik Dik Sognando la California (1969)

Equipe 84 Tutta mia la città (1969)

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