Marcello Ad-Lib

Marcello Ad-Lib

When I racked my brain to find what to put in the playlist of Rome, I realized a few things :


1) There are not that many songs about Rome that I know AND that I would advise people to listen to. I mean, however snobbish it may seem, I’m not ready to go with Dany Brillant, recent Renaud or Nana Mouskouri.


2) Like any Italian city, Rome is obviously musical, but to my mind it is even more cinematographic. There’s History everywhere you may look at, and stories happening all the time. One moment you feel like you’ve been transported into a living cliché and the other, actual life is going on. There’s this anecdote I just find so revealing : the construction of a new underground line has been going on for years and years. It is deeply needed as you will see when you experience the trafic there ; but the problem is : if you happen to find something historically meaningful on a building site, you’ve got to stop all the work for the potential ruins or remnants to be protected. Now, I let you imagine the situation in a city like Rome…

Anyway, I opted for three approaches :

  • Songs about Rome (which is kind of the deal)
  • Songs only mentioning Rome but that are too good not to be picked
  • Songs issued from the soundtracks of some major movies shot in Rome

Songs about Rome

a) Granted, that’s not what you would call unexpected, but honestly, there’s no way it can be left out.
Week-end à Rome by Etienne Daho

b) And right after, because I know Hervé would never forgive me for making him wait any longer :
Foule romaine by Jean-Louis Murat

c) Speaking about Wait… If you want to get away from the clichés, trust the guy to shade a very original light on one of the most famous monuments in the world.
In the Colosseum, by Tom Waits

d) To keep the balance, let’s go back to the ultimate cliché : sweet, verging on the sirupy, that would make you nauseous in any other circumstance but that you just can’t resist when you’re in the mood for it.
On an evening in Roma by Dean Martin

e) I hesitated before picking that one : not a big fan of the interpretation, not even of the song, but la rue du Babouin is an actual street in Rome, with a statue that got mossy over time, looking like fur, hence the name. Maybe you’ll come across it (best clue : don’t look for it!!)
La rue du babouin by Françoise Hardy / Maurane

f) Not one of my faves either, but it’s in keeping with the oversweet tone so far, plus I’ve spent hours sitting on the Spanish Steps. It used to be quite a seedy area, now it’s mainly a must-see place, populated with rose vendors stalking honey-mooners. And yet, it is still a great place to relax, marvel at the colours of the buildings, do some intense people-watching or have a drink from the fountain downstairs.
Two anecdotes about the place, I let you choose which is the classiest :
the poet Shelley lived in the building at the bottom of the steps
I once saw a limo driving down to the center and people rushing to it. That was Sylvester Stallone. Still don’t know how the driver managed his way out in the tiny streets without hurting anyone…
Spanish Steps by Toto

g) More nostalgic and because I think this is an underestimated artist.
Le plan de Rome by Nino Ferrer

h) To conclude : imagine a celtic folk group wandering in Rome, that should sound like this :
When I paint my masterpiece by Bob Dylan and the band

Songs only mentioning Rome but too good not to be picked up

a) Peach Trees by Rufus Wrainwright

b) Daddy’s Car by the Cardigans

c) Dear God Please Help Me by Morrissey

d) Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day by Morcheeba

e) Curiosity by Iggy Pop

f) Rome by Phoenix

g) When the Earth Moves Again by Jefferson Airplane

h) Sergio Leone by Jackson Browne

Soundtracks from movies in/about Rome

a) Keith Jarrett – The Köln Concert – in Caro Diaro (by Nanni Moretti)
If you have an opportunity to see this movie, the first part is set in Rome, mainly up and down on a vespa. It is beautiful, often hilarious and very moving.
This particular passage is a tribute to Pasolini. I admit it’s not the funniest extract.

b) Nino Rota – La Dolce Vita by Fellini
You probably have seen this scene from la Dolce Vita which has made the Trevi Fountain so famous. Anita Ekberg bathes in the fountain and is calling at Marcello Mastroïanni.
Like most of Fellini’s movies, the music is by Nina Rota.

c) Nel blu dipinto di blu Volare (Domenico Modugno) in To Rome with Love by Woody Allen

d) Prospero’s Curse by Michael Nyman in The Belly of an Architect by Peter Greenway

e) Alessandro Ciccognini : The main theme of the movie The Bicycle Thieves by Vittorio de Sica

As a bonus : this was also shot in Rome in the lovely neighbourhood of Trastevere. Lior Shoov plays the hang on the street, which is perfect because there can’t be a decent play-list without Lior Shoov in it.
The video is bad quality, the sound even more and it’s quite old so she has evolved a lot since then.
But it’s in Rome : no cheating.

Rédaction : Justine Keiss, intervenante d’anglais à 2089

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