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Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Rimmel"

Francesco De Gregori - "Rimmel" (1975)

In Italy, the call him 'The Poet Prince'



Italian singer-songwriter De Gregori was born in Rome in 1951. He was fascinated by American music, particularly folk rockers like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. As the 70s opened and James Taylor and Neil Young topped the charts he grabbed his guitar and began recording. His first few albums were moderately successful but the album Rimmel was a huge success. He began to include other instruments and write more love songs, including the title track "Rimmel". It's a ballad, sung to a former lover. Rimmel means mascara in Italian. It's hard to make out meaning in a poetic foreign language song, but it seems like he is sad that it is over, and perhaps she is sad as well.

The piano is a different instrument for De Gregori, but the song carries it well; makes it sound like a Billy Joel song from the same time period. There's also a quiet organ playing in the background, which along with the quiet background singers makes me think of Dylan. He ties the whole song together with his own simple acoustic guitar, another Dylonesque touch. Francesco calls the ex his Venus of Mascara, when she is standing in the rain, which gives you an idea of how creative his lyrics can be. This moment in the song comes when she asks him if he still has a photograph of her where she is smiling, but not looking. He responds yes, quickly and without thought, which leads to the last lines of the last verse, and the saddest couplet I've heard in a while. "/you said: 'it is all that you have of me,'/ it is all that I have of you." (De Gregori).

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