Italian entertainment: Tu vuò fa' l'americano
- WTI Magazine #137 Mar 20, 2021
What comes to your mind if we say: “Tu vuò fà l’americano”? Maybe the Cuban singer Pitbull dancing his “Bon Bon” song surrounded by sexy girls; or the fun video of the song “We no speak americano” of the Australian music duo Yolanda be Cool; or, maybe, a Neapolitan guy playing the piano accompanied by 5 other musicians, with jazz and swing rhythms.
Well, the name of that guy was Renato Carosone, an incredible artist who died exactly 20 years ago and March 2021 celebrates the centenary of his birth with the release of an Italian movie about his wonderful life. “Carosello Carosone” starts in New York with a young Renato who, in 1958, is struggling with the songs which will be performed during the glorious concert at the Carnegie Hall. In this exact moment he begins thinking about his whole life.
Carosone was born in Naples in 1920 and, since his childhood, he revealed a strong passion towards the piano. At the age of seventeen, he joined an art company which set sail for the eastern Africa, at that time a colony of Italy, and unexpectedly he remained there for almost 10 years. The African period was very productive for Renato, not only from the sentimental point of view (at Massaua he married Lita, a Venetian dancer) but also from the artistic one, assimilating African melodies and rhythms.
Once back in Italy, the great artist put together the famous “Trio Carosone”, with the Dutch guitar player Peter Van Wood and the Neapolitan drummer Gegè Di Giacomo. The success of the band grew year after year, accompanied by continuous group changes and enlargements. But the great commercial success firstly came with the song “Maruzzella” in 1954 and “Tu vuò fà l’americano” (1956) and “Torero” (1957), composed with the songwriter Nisa.
The end of 1957 and the beginning of 1958 constituted a particularly important period for the celebrated artist: after a tour in Europe, Renato and his band landed for the first time in America. They started the concerts in Cuba, then Caracas and Rio the Janeiro, and finally on January 6th the group performed at the Carnegie Hall in New York. This event represented a sort of rarity, since the music hall had always exclusively hosted classical music concerts, with the only exception of Benny Goodman and his jazz in 1938.
And here the movie starts: the actor who plays Renato Carosone is Eduardo Scarpetta II, famous for the lead role in “l’Amica geniale”, the Italian version of “My Brilliant friend”. It will be released on the National Italian TV on prime time.
So what is the meaning of “Tu vuò fà l’americano”? This boogie woogie song reflects a specific period of the history, the post-World War II, and a particular process which became popular in Italy in that moment: the Americanization. But the song presents this American influence in a satiric key, since the Neapolitan guy described by Carosone, who drinks whishy and soda, who dances the rock ‘n roll, who plays baseball and who smokes Camel cigarettes, in reality could not afford all these passions without the economic support of his family.