Fabrizio De André, 25 years without our fragile friend

Our fragile friend evaporated in a red cloud 25 years ago. It’s been a quarter of a century Fabrizio De André he has walked the flowery path that leads to a world, if there is one, where there are no seasons and where those who live on the hill live, incorporeal, those who reside in that place called goodbye. With him are the player Jones and Ella and Kate “both died by mistake, one from abortion, the other from love”the fisherman who has “a furrow along the face like a kind of smile” and the drowned people who populate his ballad, the bomber eu Dria of Creuza de Ma, Teresa who has crooked eyes and looks towards the sea and the lifeguard’s daughter. But there are also Marinella, Bocca di Rosa and Maria in the carpenter’s shop. There are the last and the first, a single family as it was at his concerts. There are occasions, and this is it, that make us count the wrinkles of the soul as well as those of the face. It was January 11, 1999 when Faber fell asleep forever. It was August 1998 when he began to have the first symptoms of an illness that had been eating him up inside for some time: he struggled to hold the guitar, he had pain in his chest and back. The concerts stop, it’s time for tests: they diagnose him with lung cancer. At the end of November he was hospitalized and on December 25th, Christmas Day, he was allowed to spend Christmas with his family. He died on January 11, he was 58 years old.


The ballad of Michéthe sad story of a suicide for love, is from 1960 and Fabrizio De André he always considered it his first official song. The debut album comes a year later: it is a 45 rpm single that contains Baroque Clouds and And it was the night. Success came in 1964, exactly sixty years ago, with Marinella’s Song, still considered an immense love song today while hiding the story of a murdered woman: it was inspired by an article in a newspaper. The first album arrives, a sort of summary of the previous songs, entitled All Fabrizio de André. Together with Luigi Tenco (to whom he dedicated the immense Prayer in January) Bruno Lauzi, Gino Paoli and the never-rediscovered Umberto Bindi are the soul of the Genoese school of singer-songwriters. Always on the uncomfortable side of life, Faber rewrote and disseminated Georges Brassens, Edgar Lee Masters and the apocryphal Gospels. An anarchist, Faber, with a big heart. When he and Dori Ghezzi were kidnapped in Sardinia he wrote Hotel Supramontea sad love song for a land and a people: “this station will also pass without harm”. Twenty-five years later we are still here feeding on his words, dreaming of “that thick air full of salt swollen with smells”to imagine that the “little girl with dewy lips” is now grown up and still lives in Via del Campo, to understand if Andrea, who got lost, now knows how to return. But above all we are the ones who are lost and don’t know where to go. Indeed we can find refuge and peace in that June ’73 where, dear Faber, we can do nothing but repeat ourselves “It was better to leave us than never to have met”.