ITALY AND THE WORLD LOSE A GREAT MUSICIAN
January 9, 2015
The world lost a great singer-songwriter this week: Pino Daniele (March 19, 1955-January 4, 2015). Born into a blue collar Neopolitan family and a self-taught guitarist, Daniele creatively debuted in the Italian music world in 1977 with the album Terra mia, which proved to be a successful mix of Neapolitan tradition and Blues.
He called his music “taramblu”, a mix of tarantella, blues and rumba. His lyrics also attracted critical praise: written and sung in an intense Neapolitan, they contained strong though bitter accusations against the social injustices of Naples, as well as Italian society in general, and included melancholic personal themes. Several of the later songs are characterized by a free intermingling of English, Italian and Neapolitan passages.
From the Huffington Post:
“What distinguished Pino was also his grand achievement to bring his city to world attention through his flawless compositions, but more importantly, his particular ‘Pino blend’ with a sophisticated mixture of black American influences, modern jazz, blues and the Arabic sources, he managed to have an enormous following of the fans in Italy. It could be said that he brought to the fore a gusto of the masses, hidden in their psyche….
From the very first note, you could hear Pino’s soul in his music: free, rebellious, ‘counter’ yet … full of respect for his roots, devoted to the Napolitan tradition of expression, perhaps deeper than any other Italian musician in his generation….
To me, Pino is the soul of Napoli and will remain so, in a sense that he enriched the city with an enormous songbook which will always be identified with its not so easily discoverable identity.
He was the voice of Napoli for four decades, and will remain so.”
Listening to Pino Daniele’s music, even when he sang in pure Neopolitan dialect making the words almost incomprehensible, gives me insight into the chiaroscuro of Naples. His best pieces are pure art, shedding light where there was none before. His music defines the very reason I continue to return to Naples, year after year.
Pino Daniele died at age 59 this week, apparently of heart complications.
Poet Allen Ginsburg said “You must create your own culture in your heart.” That’s exactly what Pino Daniele did.
Adieu to a musical master.