The day the music died (literally)

It was the year 2000 when I was introduced to the wonder that is Vinicio Capossela. A master like few the world has seen.

He is humble, his musicality original, raw, full of fire, his lyrics poems of the highest order. Above all, he reaches out and touches the human condition in a way that speaks volumes to me, walking that fine line between nostalgia and melancholy, verve and rhythm, yearning and desire, passion and soul. As I read somewhere, he is a visionary dreamer. And through him, we too dream.

Fuga dell’anima tornare a sud
Di me
Come si torna sempre all’amor
Vivere accesi dall’afa di Luglio
Appesi al mio viaggiar
Camminando non c’è strada per andare
Che non sia di camminar

(From Camera a Sud)
My translation: The South/The soul wants to escape, fleeing to the south/As one always returns to love/Made to feel alive by the heavy air of July/Hanging on to the journey/Walking aimlessly around/In streets that are made for walking

Those 20 years or so ago, together with some Italian and German friends, I formed a band in the city of Turin, just for the fun of it. And we would while away our Saturday afternoons rehearsing a variety of songs which we would then play for other friends in various gatherings over the years – from a cold night up in the mountains at the artist studio of another friend, with a crackling fire and copious litres of delicious Barbera to keep us warm, to the wedding of two of the band members on the French riviera down at Menton. And a lot of our inspiration came from Capossela. A lot of my knowledge of Italian came from him, too, that beautiful, rich, difficult to penetrate language that made you instantly wiser, just for having understood it.

Vinicio Capossela. Photo by Chico De Luigi

So when I found out, just mere hours before, that Capossela was headlining an event in Malta yesterday, I spent the afternoon cussing at myself, incredulous that once again I would have to miss a concert of this magnificent maestro (I was in Noto, Sicily earlier this summer just a couple of days before his concert there).

But the comedy (or should that read tragedy?) of errors that was to follow now makes me thankful I missed the pitiful scene. You see, the powers that be decided that Capossela’s concert had overrun its timeslot and should come to an end. Of course, this isn’t some trashy spectacle, there for the masses to enjoy. Capossela is niche in his own country of Italy, let alone in Malta, where niche takes on a whole new meaning (try shelf in the cupboard for size).

And so it was that Capossela’s stage was taken over by the police (no, not the trio, but the gun-wearing, baton-wielding types) and his concert brought to an abrupt end.

This all on the night called Notte Bianca or White Night, one night in the year when the capital city of Malta supposedly comes alive for a multitude of events. And he was a star guest. And I should add that this year, Valletta, the capital city, is the European Capital of Culture for 2018. I wonder which other city of culture saw police take to the stage to end an official concert? I’d wager the answer is none.

The festival organiser reports that the band “took it lightly”… I bet they did, in the kind of taking-it-lightly-and-writing-a-song-about-it way.

This all in the same week that the Prime Minister tweets about a dog being rescued at sea (and not about the human beings on the same boat), that the leader of the opposition talks about the potentiality of foreign teachers as some sort of threat, that the lynch mob on Facebook draws its talons because a foreigner (oh, the temerity!) had the cheek (their thoughts, not mine) to point out that there are some serious infrastructural problems with our roads. “Go back to your country”, they rage, and take glee as they see similar problems arising in Sicily, not realising that much of the infrastructural problems there are in fact a result of terrible corruption and wanton disregard (read mafia).

I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to write this. After all, those that think differently won’t read it, those that simply don’t bother, won’t either, and I’m certainly not going to inspire anyone with a single blog post… But the Capossela incident really got my goat.

The fact that I didn’t even know about the concert speaks volumes as to the marketing that went into it – zilch, it seems. How did it NEVER pop up on any of my feeds when I follow the guy on social media and play his music so often that my five year old (who can’t speak Italian) can sing his tunes?!

But write I must because my discomfort has reached levels so dire, so bleak, because of course, it is not the music that is dying, but our souls.

I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.

(with apologies to Radiohead)

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