Je so pazz’

Pino Daniele (1979)

Je so’ pazzo, je so’ pazzo
e vogl’essere chi vogl’io
ascite fore d’a casa mia.

Je so’ pazzo, je so’ pazzo,
c’ho il popolo che mi aspetta
e scusate vado di fretta.

Non mi date sempre ragione,
io lo so che sono un errore
nella vita voglio vivere almeno un giorno da leone
e lo Stato questa volta non mi deve condannare
pecché so’ pazzo, je so’ pazzo
ed oggi voglio parlare.

Je so’ pazzo, je so’ pazzo,
si se ‘ntosta ‘a nervatura
metto tutti ‘nfaccia ‘o muro.

Je so’ pazzo, je so’ pazzo
e chi dice che Masaniello poi negro non sia più bello?
E non sono menomato,
sono pure diplomato
e la faccia nera l’ho dipinta per essere notato.
Masaniello è crisciuto, Masaniello è turnato.

Je so’ pazzo, je so’ pazzo,
nun ce scassate ‘o cazzo!

I'm Crazy

Translated by: Francesco Ciabattoni

I’m crazy, I’m crazy
and I wanna be who I wanna be,
get out of my house.

I’m crazy, I’m crazy
I got the people waiting for me
and so excuse me, I’m in a rush

And don’t just tell me that I’m right
I know I’m a mistake
but I want to live at least one day as a lion
and this time the State can’t condemn me
because I’m crazy, I’m crazy
and today I’m gonna speak up.

I’m crazy, I’m crazy
if my nerves get tense
I’ll push everyone’s face into the wall.

I’m crazy, I’m crazy
and who says that Masaniello
isn’t more handsome as a black man?
I’m not crippled, I even got a degree
and I painted my face black just to be noticed more
Masaniello has grown up, Masaniello is back
I am crazy, I am crazy
so don’t fuck with me!

By Francesco Ciabattoni (Georgetown University).

Is Pino Daniele’s “Je so pazz” an Italian-style blues, a Neapolitan rock or a jazz song one of Italy’s best sounding dialects? Be that as it may, Daniele’s unique pastiche of styles, languages and themes cannot fail to cause us to fall in love with his characters and stories, as if we were watching a show of Commedia dell’arte right under Mount Vesuvius. But who is the character singing this song? Many websites post claim it is the last speech of Masaniello, the leader of the Neapolitan revolution against the Spanish rulers of 1647. Many websites even post the alleged “ultimo discorso di Masaniello” to which Daniele’s lyrics seem akin. Unfortunately, not a single website bothers citing the source of the speech they report and attribute to Masaniello. However, a text attributed to Masaniello does indeed exist and resonates with Daniele’s obsessive refrain “I am crazy”:

“Amice miei, popolo mio, gente: vuie ve credite ca io sò pazzo e forse avite raggione vuie: io sò pazzo overamente… facite come a Masaniello: ascite pazzi”

(My friends, my people: you believe I am crazy and maybe you are right: I am really crazy… do like Masaniello: go crazy).

This speech, in Neapolitan dialect just like Daniele’s song, is found in Luciano De Crescenzo’s ‘Così parlò Bellavista,’ published just two years prior to Pino Daniele’s hit […]. If, then, Pino Daniele received an inspiration from that text, it was an inspiration from Luciano De Crescenzo’s pen, not Masaniello, a distinction of which the songwriter was probably more aware than can be said of many of his internet fans!

By Anthony DelDonna (Georgetown University).

How does one write about a song such as “Je so pazzo;” a song that has been discussed at length, interpreted, and misinterpreted repeatedly since its release in 1979? Very carefully. As noted in the above commentary, the most basic introductory question concerns the music itself, namely what is it? The phrase that is often referenced, “Taramblù” —a portmanteau of “tarantella” ad “blues.” attributed to Daniele himself—remains only a partial explanation. “Je so pazzo” like so much of his music is a broad sampling of his influences, musical, cultural, and literary. The opening solo guitar riff segues into the downbeat of the pronounced swing rhythm that pulsates throughout the song along with the heavy backbeat (on two and four). Together with the repetitious hook and basic three chords (Em-C7-B7 with an added single Am7), these qualities also point directly to rock and the often invoked blues of the American past. Yet it is the piercing melody of harmonica, accordion and whistle that surfaces prior to and between the verses that ground the listener in Naples. Daniele’s vocal delivery matches the swing of the accompaniment: laid back, measured, and always perfunctory. The striking non conformity of the music (singing about contemporary Naples in distinctive American idioms and influences) finds its counterpart in-the evocation of Masaniello. The enduring symbol of populism (not the ‘brand’ that permeates contemporary politics), Masaniello embodied individuality and upending of the status quo. This is the core message of Daniele’s song and his music: “I am crazy” because I will speak the unspoken, the taboo, and not conform. Daniele’s individualism and rebelliousness extend to his musical influences, transcending a single tradition, style, influence, interpretation or model of what ‘Neapolitan’ music should be. The message is aptly summed up by the last line, “Je so’ pazzo, je so’ pazzo nun ce scassate ‘o cazzo!”