Growing up in Italy is a bitter-sweet. Italy’s culture is strong, rich of an imagery that had thousands of years to mature. In particular, design, architecture, music, and movies are world class, as many have recognized.
While Italian design has world renown in cars, furniture, and – to possible parity with France – fashion, the other items are not widely accepted to be part of the Italian strengths. Architecture, for instance, is something that most people associate with past centuries, and they see no new contributions. Similar fate awaited the Italian movie industry, once leading the pack of avant-garde movie making. Today all the common man knows is Il Postino and Life Is Beautiful.
In music, though, Italy’s vitality is unprecedented. There is nothing that is more Italian to my senses than its music: melodic lines sung by artists that typically write their own songs, with minimal instrumental aide, but a lot of background chorus. When these songs start soaring, it feels as if the whole world revolved around a medieval piazza, with young folks flirting with each other and old folks staring gently.
One day the rest of the world will appreciate how much an Italian song is the musical rendition of a summer day. For now, Italian adore their music, and once in a while there is a crossover success, typically from Latino listeners.
One such success is Laura Pausini. Everyone used to listen to her songs back in the Nineties. A wonderful voice, she fits the category of Italian pop songs perfectly. Tra Te E Il Mare (between you and the sea) contains some of her later successes.
The title song, from what I can reconstruct, is a lyrical ballad in which Laura has to make up her mind about leaving her husband/boyfriend/lover. As usual with Pausini’s songs, the lyrics don’t make a lot of sense and are mostly there to generate a textual representation of the emotions evoked by the song.
Non posso piu’ decidermi tra te e il mare… I can’t continue having to choose between you and the sea. Trust me, it makes just as little sense in Italian as it does in English. But it’s a haunting melody, and Laura is convinced she makes sense throughout the song. Vivo di respiri che lasci qui I live off breaths you have left here.