CDs were the new thing and some brave soul opened a CD-Only store in Boulder. I worked there. It was Christmas and busy. One day, someone came in to return a disc, complaining that although the cover and the box – those awful long boxes – and the label all said it was Baroque Christmas Carols, played on original instruments and sung by a choir of some sort, the actual music on it was anything but that.
Questa Sporca Vita Paolo Conte
Refund, no problem, but I was excited to hear what cosmic mistake had occurred. I put it on and heard a tinny piano intro and then, what to my Midwestern ears, sounded like drunken Romanians. Or Albanians. Or someone from someplace I had no idea of. I knew it wasn’t English, but I loved the music. I bought the disc and listened to it a lot. And not just at Christmas.
I could never figure it out or translate it, but I didn’t care. I loved the music. 17 years later, I was in a store and heard that piano, that voice. I learned that it was Paolo Conte. Italian. And, yes, probably drunk, but I could finally explore more by this maniac.
To this day, I still don’t know what he’s saying, but it doesn’t matter. It’s the same with all foreign music. I may be an ignorant American, but I love that untranslatable experience of not knowing.
La Fisarmonica di Stradella Paolo Conte
It’s the music, the human sounds that matter. Maybe his girlfriend left. Maybe he won the lottery. Maybe his hair went white. I’d rather not know. I just want to hear the music, the dream of the music. Straight, no chaser. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.