June 20, 2021

Call me Battiato


In 1984, the Eurovision Song Contest came as a surprise. On the Italian side a different song was presented; a song that kept the rhythmic drive of the techno-pop of those times but with a peculiarity: it lacked a catchy chorus. It was played by a very special couple.


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The woman, dark, with a deep timbre, went by the name Alice and had experience in musical competitions. He had made himself known at the Castrocaro festival, winning the first prize, and had also participated in the Sanremo festival with worse luck. Beside him, a lean man with plastic glasses and a certain humor in his expression, in a soft voice intoned a letter that had to do with trains in the desert. It moved with Mediterranean elegance, a heritage of centuries that carried its long bone structure and little chicha.

The song was titled “I treni di Tozeur” and the man was Franco Battiato. It was then that that music geek who over time turned out to be a well-liked thug came into our homes. Very few peña knew Battiato in Spain. The G-Men, at that time a group unknown to the general public, talked about him at the Rowland bar, they had even winked at the B-side of their first single that went unnoticed until producer Paco Martín arrived and converted ” Venezia “a success. Yes, the one with the striped sweater. One of these days I will talk about Paco Martín, how he managed to transform the usual four chords into a hundred gold records. But today we have to talk about Battiato.

I was saying that from then on, from his participation in the Eurovision contest, the name of Battiato began to hit the radio stations hard. In a short time his songs would sneak into our lives and into trendy nightclubs. Between the songs of Michael Jackson, Kool and The Gang and Madonna, his “Centro Di Gravità Permanent“, a crazy lyric song where an old Breton woman appeared with a hat and a rice paper umbrella. The matter got complicated with the Ming dynasty and then came the rampage when Battiato took to saying that he could not stand the Italian new wave Seen like this, the lyrics of the song are a hooligan even though its origin was much deeper.

Because “Centro Di Gravità Permanent” had to do with the teachings of George Gurdjieff, the mystical guru of Russian origin who spoke of reorganizing life from our permanent centers of gravity. It seems that the subject of yore was one of the many jokes in the form of a bet that Battiato scored. He did it to show that he was capable of hitting the charts with an electronic song. For him, doing these things was easy. As easy as sewing and singing without losing your permanent center of gravity.

Because art is either easy or it is not art and Franco Battiato was, above all, a great artist. Although that night, at the Eurovision Song Contest, his song did not win, he was in fifth place, during the summer of 1984 it reached the top of the radio formulas of the time.

They also say that when Battiato was already a successful artist, at the end of one of his concerts in Spain, and with the public asking for the encore shouting Franco! Frank! He came out on stage and said: “Please, in Spain call me Battiato.”

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