The “Night before the exams” by Antonello Venditti makes 40

The “Night before the exams” by Antonello Venditti makes 40

Legend has it that the three songs came out to him one after the other, the day he set foot inside the Roman house he had just purchased in Trastevere, at the suggestion of Lucio Dalla. Antonello Venditti had met him on the Comasina road, the state road that connects Milan to Como, in the darkest moment of his life up to that point, alone and desperate in the Lombard capital after the end of his marriage to Simona Izzo: “I met Lucio Dalla dangling on a jeep who told me: ‘I found you a home in Rome’. I rushed back to the capital and, taking advantage of the fact that I was separated, I used all means to seduce the lady who owned the house.

They worked well and the price dropped a lot,” he would recall years later in interviews. In that house in the shadow of the Torre degli Anguillara, in the district considered the cradle of the purest and most true Romanism, the Roman singer-songwriter, 34 years old at the time, only had a .piano.

And the 1983. Rome is experiencing a magical moment, with the city team, led by Baron Nils Liedholm, who thanks to the exploits of striker Pruzzo, Bruno Conti, Carlo Ancelotti, Paulo Roberto Falcão and Agostino Di Bartolomei dominates the championship and is about to bringing the scudetto back to Trigoria forty-one years after the first victory. An atmosphere of joy and euphoria that contrasts with Antonello’s black mood. A round of suspended and rarefied piano chords and here comes the first of the three songs: “Being together with you was a game / okay you won and everything else is life”. We need a friend. The friend was Lucio Dalla, a saving elf. “Everything else is life” is a quote from Maurizio Costanzo, who thus closes the episodes of his “Costanzo show”: the journalist has just started a relationship with Izzo herself and the news, learned from the gossip columns, does not leave Venditti indifferent .

Another round of chords, this time more melancholy, suggestive. The proximity between the apartment and the Folkstudiothe basement in via Garibaldi where his artistic life began ten years earlier, a few meters away, unlocks memories in Antonellone’s mind: “I remember four guys with guitars and a piano on their shoulders / like the pines of Rome, life doesn’t break them / this night is still ours”.

Maturity has supported her for a while, but in this phase of her life and career Cicalone, as his classmates called him at the time of Folkstudio due to his incessant chatter, is preparing to take an exam no less demanding: put (his) pieces back together and move on. The four boys he sings about in “.Night before exams“I’m him, Giorgio Lo Cascio, Francesco De Gregori and Ernesto Bassignano. They started out together, then life made them take different paths. The iconic incipit of the song, which turns forty this year (Gazelles and Thunderboltstwo heirs of the great Capitoline songwriting tradition, will sing it in the evening of the covers of Sanremo Festival, while Venditti has announced a concert-event scheduled for May 19th at the Verona Arena), is a flashback, a psychological point from which to start again: the beginning of a flow of thoughts which, as in a self-analysis, leads Antonello towards the exit from the tunnel. “The lights come on here on stage / but how many friends I have around / that make me want to sing / perhaps changed, certainly a little different / but with the still desire to change”, the singer-songwriter resumes, now speaking in the present tense.

Suddenly the worst seems to be over. “Ci would like a friend” and “Notte prima degli exami”, which will become a true generational anthem, are the first pieces of an album, “Heart”, which will mark the rebirth of Venditti and his consecration. When thirty years later in an interview on Il Sole 24 the journalist asked him “When did you become Antonello and say: ‘Yes, people hear me, there is no longer a filter’?”, Venditti will reply: “With ‘Heart’”.

However, we didn’t talk about the last song born on that magical day, the result of an unrepeatable alignment of stars. She began like this: “Tell me what makes us feel like friends even if we don’t know each other…”. The answer? Venditti finds it right around him, outside that Trastevere apartment: it’s Rome. “Thanks Rome” will become the anthem of the home triumphs of the Giallorossi, up to the victory of the Scudetto and the celebrations at the Circus Maximus. Antonello years later will say: “It was a homecoming. The concert at the Circus Maximus in ’83 was a blessing. I felt part of this city”.