Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Monday, March 08, 2010

Rita Pavone is Awesome!

I was perusing the internet tubes and I found this video of Rita Pavone singing "Il geghegè" from a 1966 Italian TV show and I found that was quite taken with the raw energy and powerful stage presence of the singer. (This video is awesome!) I immediately started searching for other videos by Rita Pavone, and found a treasure trove of awesomeness, especially "Your Baby's Gone Surfing" (Go Rita GO!) Datemi Un Martello, Just Once More, Lui [ 2 ], Eyes Of Mine and this song from the film "La Figlia Americane".

I'm surprised that I have never heard of Rita Pavone, because she was certainly famous in her day. According to Wikipedia, "in 1965, Pavone participated as a musician guest in The Ed Sullivan Show, becoming a frequent guest there until 1970. [...] in the United States Rita Pavone sang alongside Diana Ross and The Supremes, Ella Fitzgerald, Tom Jones, Duke Ellington, Paul Anka and a number of singers of the era. It is said that Elvis Presley made a painting of her after she went to Memphis and he met her at a recording studio. Barbra Streisand recorded a duo with her. Pavone sang at Carnegie Hall in New York city during this era."

Rita Pavone also wrote and performed the School House Rock inspired song in this delightful animated video called, "My Name is Potato". The animation was done by Guido Manuli, who also worked on Bruno Bozetto's film "Allegro non Troppo". (I love the evolution sequence in that film.)

I was curious as to what the lyrics in the potato song meant, but this was all I could Google on the subject:

Tu sei la patata oggi rinomata l’accento un po’ straniero dell’americano impero.
You are a potato - today famous - foreign accent from the American empire.
Tu non sei un’animale non mangi la carne ne’ erba ne’ uova tu nutri soltanto di terra sola.
You aren't an animal, don't eat meat nor grass, nor eggs - You live only off the dirt.
Tu sei la patata se ti parlo la tua voce mi risponde stranamente con l’accento straniero.
You are a potato - If you speak your voice responds strangely with a foreign accent.
Potato potato potato.

Rita Pavone seems to have spent a signicant portion of her early career dressed as a boy on a TV show called "Gian Burrasca", playing a male character that always got into mischief and then sang songs about how much he loved his mother, which is a common Italian trope. [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ] (I actually found these videos kind of annoying.)

Because Rita is dressed as a boy in "Viva La Pappa Col Pomodoro", I thought that was merely a continuation of this theme - but I grew curious about it because it is kind of a happy little song that blatantly features Rita awesome dance moves (Ha! Watch this!), and it was apparently about a father figure ('Pappa Col Pomodoro') and not a mother figure.

I was wrong, though. It seems that the title of the song, "Viva La Pappa Col Pomodoro", roughly translates to "Long Live the Mushy Tuscan Tomato Soup Dish That is Made Out of Stale Bread," but upon translating the song it doesn't really seem to be about food at all. (This is how to make La Pappa Al Pomodoro, by the way.) [ 2 ]

As near as I can figure, the lyrics of the song roughly translate to 'history has taught us that people that are hungry start revolutions against dictators', which seems to me to be a very strange message considering the upbeat tempo and enthusiastic dance moves that accompany the presentation.

Along the same lines, Rita Pavone was in a 1967 film called the La Feldmarescialla ("The Girl Field Marshall") in which she seems to be playing a happy, singing Nazi. I can only find three clips, "Rosamunda/Un, Due, Tre (Se Marci Insieme a Me)", "Non Dimenticar le Mie Parole" and "Pippo Non Lo Sa". If you wait until after the brief song "Rosamunda" on this clip, she sings "Un, Due, Tre" while marching along with whole platoon of Nazis. (It's pretty remarkable.) If you listen close, it actually sounds like the back-up singers are Alvin and the Chipunks. (I kid you not!)

"Rosamunda" is sung to the tune of "Roll Out the Barrel".

Rita la Zanzara ("Rita the Mosquito" 1966) [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 ]
Non Stuzzicate la Zanzara (Don't Sting The Mosquito" 1967) [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 ]
Little Rita Nel West ("Little Rita in the West" 1968) [ 1, 2, 3 ]

I found two entire Rita Pavone movies, Rita la Zanzara ("Rita the Mosquito"):

"Rita, a vivacious co-ed is in love with her music teacher, a man who leads a double life - bespectacled professor by day and composer of rock songs by night. Will Rita win his heart?" IMDB

And Non Stuzzicate la Zanzara ("Don't Bother the Mosquito"):

"Rita, a vivacious co-ed flees her boarding school with her music teacher, who is also engaged to her. She wants to take part in a singing contest but her father who is dead against it has her kidnapped. He finally gives in when his wife threatens to sing in the contest herself." IMDB

Both of these films were directed by Lina Wertmüller. (I have seen some of her films, including Swept Away.) They also star famous italian film star Giancarlo Giannini sporting a really frightening hairdo.

Although I am sure that my good friend Sleestak would disagree, I would say that Rita Pavone gives Hayley Mills some real competition in the overwhelming, outright-prolonged cuteness department.

Here are some pictures that I found of Rita Pavone. (I like the picture of Rita with the giant cake best! This picture gives you an idea of her height.) If you want to see more of her videos, I have made a Giant HTML Jukebox with 176 Videos of Rita Pavone!

You can also visit Rita Pavone's website.

Rita Pavone is awesome!

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At Mon Mar 08, 04:57:00 PM, Blogger sunshine said...

She is very awesome!
She's got some wicked dance moves!!


At Mon Mar 08, 09:38:00 PM, Blogger Tengrain said...

She's as cute as a bug's butt, and I mean that in a good way.

Freckles. Sighhhhhhhhhh,



At Tue Mar 09, 01:58:00 PM, Blogger Sue J said...

Who IS this Rita Pavone?

At Tue Mar 09, 09:49:00 PM, Blogger Matty Boy said...

And music by Nino Rota! Never to be missed!

At Fri Mar 12, 01:29:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Sunshine: Yay! Rita Pavone is the ginchiest! :o)

Tengrain: Freckles are awesome! :o)

Sue J: Oh, Sue J... You don't know after all of those YouTube videos? ;o)

Matty Boy: Wow! Nino Rota composed the music for two of Franco Zeffirelli's Shakespeare films, and for the first two films of Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy!

At Sun Mar 14, 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Distributorcap said...

i bet she is friend with Rula Lenska

At Sun Mar 14, 07:39:00 PM, Blogger ZIRGAR said...

She's no Suzi Quatro, but she's okay, I suppose. lol

At Sun Jun 26, 12:53:00 PM, Blogger lulu said...

I'd like to leave the link of a blog written in ENGLISH about RITA PAVONE...

At Sun Jun 26, 12:54:00 PM, Blogger lulu said...

there's another blog about RITA PAVONE in ENGLISH:


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