Fa L’Americano!

Italian language. Early 50’s pop-jazz music. Post-millennial dance beats. Genre-bending covers and remixes. Charlie Chaplin films. Affectionate homages. Cute girls in messenger-boy caps. These are a few of my favorite things.

Given that fact, I am pleased to announce that the following music video, to the best of my knowledge, the highest number density of “my favorite things” of any music video I’ve ever seen. Please check it out. You probably know the song already; it’s been on the radio for some time now. I’ve heard it. I liked it. But until a friend of mine sent me the video a few days ago, I had no idea I was actually in love with it:

The same friend, by the way, was corteous enough to send me the original song as well, which is Renato Carosone’s “Tu Vuo’ Fa L’Americano.” This also clears up an ambiguity about the lyrics. The song above is occasionally referred to as “Pa-Panamericano,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. But I’m quite sure that what he’s really saying is “fa l’Americano,” which is to say “Do the Americano,” as though it were some sort of dance move. It might sound like a “p” because they’ve clipped the track so that it comes in in the middle of the ‘f’ sound, but in fact it’s much more fun the real way. It’s a clever twist on the original lyrics, because the full form of the chorus, “Tu Vuo’ Fa L’Americano,” means something more like “you always want to make line an American,” or maybe more compactly, “you’re a Poser-American.” So the remix is a dance track exhorting you to dance like an American…or at least, like the stereotype of one!

A performance of the original song is below the fold, as well as my clumsy attempt to translate the lyrics.

Lyrics (to the original, not the remix, which has been rearranged somewhat)

You wear pants with a patch on the back

And a little cap with the visor tipped up

You’re prancing around Tuleto

Like a lady’s man trying to be seen

/

You’re such a poser American

Listen to me, who makes you do that?

You want to live your life in that way

But if you drink whiskey and soda

Your stomach will be upset!

/

You dance to rock and roll,

You play baseball,

But that money you use to buy Camels,

Who gives it to you?–Your mother’s purse!

/

Chorus:

You’re such a poser American

But you were born in Italy!

Listen to me

There’s nothing for it,

Okay, you Neapolitan?

You’re such a poser American

You’re such a poser American

/

How can whoever loves you understand you

If you speak nearly half American?

and when you’re making love under the moon

What are you going to say, “I Love You”?

/

Chorus

/

Whiskey and soda, rock and roll

You’re such a poser American…

/

By the way, thanks thanks to a pair of friends for helping with the translation. And if you’re reading this and think you can speak Italian, don’t feel bad if you can’t make out the words to this. I certainly couldn’t. Carosone was born and raised in Naples, and his dialect shows it. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much google work to find the lyrics written out, and once you see them you can hear them more clearly.

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About Colin West
Colin West is a graduate student in quantum information theory, working at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook University. Originally from Colorado (where he attended college), his interests outside of physics include politics, paper-folding, puzzles, playing-cards, and apparently, plosives.

One Response to Fa L’Americano!

  1. EJG says:

    Intriiiguing. The first version I heard was the Puppini Sisters’ version, but I like the sound of this better.

    I had no idea you liked genre-bending remixes! You should try these : http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/music/51259/anander-mol-anander-veig/ , esp #2, 4, 5, and 8.

    Also, next time we see each other we need to put “Big Argument about Translation” on the agenda.

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