Lucio Battisti

By Francesco Ciabattoni (Georgetown University) (from “Italy’s Cantatutori in the 1980s”, in La memoria delle canzoni. Popular music e identità italiana, ed. by Alessandro Carrera, Puntoacapo, 2017, pp. 155-156)

Lucio Battisti (Poggio Bustone, Rieti, 1943 – Milan 1998), who as early as the 1960s became synonymous with Italian musica leggera, possessed a versatile voice, capable of velvety undertones as well as of a screamer’s grit.

Battisti and lyricist Mogol (Giulio Rapetti) signed together some of the most significant Italian pop songs of the 1960s and 70s, changing the course of Italian canzone. While some of their songs were interpreted by successful singers such as Mina, Ornella Vanoni and Patty Pravo, Battisti’s own, peculiar voice, with falsetto overtones, immediately became a trademark of his style. His songs about love and solitude in the changing rules of Italian society  embodied the lifestyle of urban Italians after the economic boom. Often criticized by the left for the lack political commitment in their songs, Battisti and Mogol have been the most famous pair of the Italian canzone and their songs have become part of the DNA of most Italians.

After the end of the long collaboration with lyrics wizard Mogol, the 1982 LP E già (Numero uno) features lyrics written by Battisti’s own wife Grazia Letizia Veronese. The soft arrangements, the generous use of synthesizers and the dreamy tone of the texts give this album a newwave sound that departed from Battisti’s usual style. Some critics greatly applauded this album’s “revolutionary import” – especially in the use of electronic sounds, but the songwriter abandoned synth-pop in Don Giovanni (1986), whose lyrics, written by Pasquale Panella, support traditionally melodic rock arrangements and ironically portray the figure of the artist amidst wordplay and disconcerting rhymes. L’apparenza (1988) continues the Battisti-Panella pairing with a turn toward a more hermetic style, while Mogol began writing for Riccardo Cocciante, a Vietnamese-born Franco-Italian, whose fame was then tied to love songs such as “Bella senz’anima,” “Primavera,” and “Margherita” (Anima, 1973 and Concerto per Margherita, 1976).

Translated songs: