Two-fer Tuesday: Getting Lost With Zucchero

Some songs transport you to a time and place deep within your memory bank. Other songs just take you on an out of body experience, returning you to the now only when you're fully cleansed.
  |   Comments

My fellow BBS writer, Josh, shared his "let me lose myself" song the other day and it was a wonderful choice for many reasons. I love Shelby Lynne. Always have. But when I want to get lost, when I need to escape, when I need to cleanse my soul of all the travails of this world, I need to look no further than one beautiful and heartwrenching song from the one man I would likely stalk if given the chance (also if I weren't lazy about such things) and if I were in Italy: Adelmo Fornaciari, henceforth known by his sweeter moniker, Zucchero (Sugar).

The song? "Miserere." The song was originally recorded with opera stars Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli and is the last track on Zucchero & Co., an album I've owned for many years (and have, in fact, owned several copies). I was initially entranced by the lead song, "I Lay Down," in which Zucchero teams up with the inimitable John Lee Hooker (not long before his death). It's a hauntingly beautiful piece and one I replayed endlessly when I first got the disc. And then one day, I simply let the entire album play through and found treasure after treasure. "Miserere" stopped me dead in my tracks. It wound itself around my heart and then became part of my blood, coursing through my entire being. At that moment I realized I had MY LOST SONG. Whenever I need to step outside myself and find clarity, this is my song. Whenever I need to remove myself from the pressures of life, this is my song. I need to lose myself for an hour? This. Is. My. Song.

 

Sometimes I weep. Openly and unabashedly weep with relief that my burdens have disappeared. Sometimes I find my cheeks hurt from grinning so much. I don't know what comes over me. I don't force anything. I simply let it happen. Whatever needs to occur... does. I emerge cleansed and refreshed and ready for the world once again. Whatever was before no longer carries the same weight it had before. I don't know the record number of times I've listened in one session, but I do recall more than a few times when hours had passed without me realizing. While the video only includes Pavarotti, who is wonderful here, the album has the version with both Pavarotti and Bocelli. The added depth with the extra voice is quite pleasing. What strikes me most about this particular video, though, is the interaction between Zucchero and Pavarotti. They obviously hold each other in great esteem and there's a gentle playfulness that could seem out of place in this song, but ultimately feels quite perfect.

When I want to go a different direction and get my blood pumping, get ready to hit the road and have some fun, I often like to play the track just before "Miserere," "Diavolo in Me," which Zucchero recorded with Solomon Burke. It's a fantastic dance tune with a gospel-infused intro. Burke as preacher asks God to "sanctify, sanctify, sanctify our souls. Sanctify." And from then on out, it's an absolute romp. Because that video really doesn't exist (nothing online does justice to Burke's role), that is NOT the next song included. Nope. But there is one better, I believe.

Sexy, slightly disturbing (sexy dancing zombies, anyone? Zucchero as plantation owner?), and infectious rhythms immediately take you to the steamy swamps where the hot not-quite-living draw you into sensuous writhing and wriggling. If all zombies were like this, being undead-ish would be infinitely more appealing. "Baila Morena" makes me move, baby.

 

Make what you will of the imagery, or better still, close your eyes and just listen. Cellular movement! Brownian motion. I can listen for hours. Or I can line up more of his dance music and keep the party going.

Anyone really looking to get to know what Zucchero is about would do well to start with Zucchero & Co. It features many wonderful guest performers: the previously mentioned Hooker, Pavarotti, Bocelli, Burke, as well as Jeff Beck, Macy Gray, Sting, Miles Davis, B.B. King, Cheb Mami, Eric Clapton, and so many others. The recordings were amassed over a 16-year period, providing beautifully archived tributes to those who had unfortunately passed before the album was released (and now some who have passed on since). Zucchero is a man of musical passions and he follows his heart wherever it takes him, which makes him the perfect person to lead me on my way to "lost."

I hope your day starts off refreshed and re-energized. And I hope you've discovered one of the world's greatest musical treasures! Here's "Bacco per Bacco," which I love for the gorgeous dancers and that smooth voice!

And one last one because I can't resist the kids. That's exactly what my son would do. In fact, it's exactly what he does when he has good music in hand. "Kilo" is just plain cool.