Sunday, April 24, 2022

Music on My Mind


Tria Marrano, "Maramao Perché Sei Morto". (You can find the English translation of the lyrics here.) This is a slightly modernized version of a song that comes up in Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna. The original foxtrot was composed in 1939, and became one of the most famous songs of Italian Swing. The story goes that Panzeri and Consiglio, the composers, were inspired by lyrics that had been recorded in an incident from 1831, in which a crippled man went through Rome singing the chorus and was arrested on the charge of mocking the recent death of the Pope (Pius VIII). The story that the song tells is of a cat who has died; the title means precisely that, "Maramao, Why Have You Died?" What it has to do with the Pope is somewhat obscure, although one of the lines is "Bread and wine you did not lack." Nobody knows how this chorus originated, but it's often thought that it was originally a nursery rhyme. In any case, when the version by Panzeri and Consiglio came out, sung by Trio Lescano, Panzeri was accused by the Fascists of writing the song mocking the death of one of Mussolini's relatives. Panzeri denied it, saying that the song had been written before the death, but the Fascists censored it, anyway. Thus it became famous as an anti-censorship song.

Probably the most famous version is that of Nicola Arigliano, which is pretty swingin'.