Sleutelwoorde

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O

So what do Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza and Elvis Presley have in common, except for the fact that they were famous singers who all died at the height of their careers, at a fairly young age?

O sole mio, of course. This well-known song, which literally translates into “my sunshine”, dates back to 1898. I believe there are very few people who can resist singing along to the refrain:

[Ma n’atu sole cchiù bello, oi ne’,
’o sole mio sta nfronte a te!
’o sole, ’o sole mio, sta nfronte a te,
sta nfronte a te!]

The lyrics translated into English on Wikipedia:

What a beautiful thing is a sunny day!
The air is serene after a storm,
The air is so fresh that it already feels like a celebration.
What a beautiful thing is a sunny day!

But another sun that’s brighter still,
It’s my own sun that’s upon your face!
The sun, my own sun, it’s upon your face!
It’s upon your face!

The glasses of your window shine;
A laundress is singing and she’s boasting it;
And while she’s wringing and spreading the clothes, and singing,
The glasses of your window shine.

[Refrain]

When night comes and the sun has gone down,
I almost start feeling melancholy;
I’d stay below your window
When night comes and the sun has gone down.

There were other great artists who also recorded the song, but Caruso and Lanza stand out in my mind because I grew up with the sound of o sole mio recorded on the old 78 rpm  and later the 33 rpm vinyl records in my mother’s collection.

Imagine my joy when, as a teenager, I discovered this version of the song recorded by my teen idol Elvis Presley: It’s now or never (note that the song starts with the refrain, which means that I didn’t have to live through the introductory verse before I could start swooning.  😀 )

It’s now or never,
come hold me tight
Kiss me my darling,
be mine tonight
Tomorrow will be too late,
it’s now or never
My love won’t wait.

When I first saw you
with your smile so tender
My heart was captured,
my soul surrendered
I’d spend a lifetime
waiting for the right time
Now that you’re near
the time is here at last.

[Refrain]

Just like a willow,
we would cry an ocean
If we lost true love
and sweet devotion
Your lips excite me,
let your arms invite me
For who knows when
we’ll meet again this way

[Refrain]

My ma was baie lief vir musiek en het gereeld die Readers Digest Music Collections van daardie jare aangekoop. Onder meer het ons ‘n versameling gehad van die legendariese ou sangers wat ‘n mens van weemoed tot selfmoord kon dryf op ‘n Sondagmiddag.

Ek sal nooit vergeet nie, toe my man die eerste keer by  ons gekuier het, het ek so oor die Sondagmiddagmaal vir my ma gevra of ons na ete ‘n bietjie na die plate kon luister. Onmiddellik het ons weer vasgeval in ‘n meningsverskil wat al jare lank geduur het, naamlik – wie het beter gesing: Caruso of Lanza? Dit het op ‘n entoesiastiese en hete bespreking uitgeloop wat beëindig is deur my man wat so ewe gevra het of dit dan nou huisvriende van my ouers is oor wie ons so stry.  (?!) Ter verduideliking moet ek sê, hy het in ‘n ander milieu grootgeword waar sport meer belangrik was. Hy kan tot nou toe nie verstaan waarom ek nie die reëls van rugby kan begryp nie.

Daar was ook ander sangers wie se musiek my ma vreeslik waardeer het, soos Dean Martin en Frank Sinatra, maar sy was veral vreeslik erg oor Slim Whitman, die treurmare van Country en Western in lewende lywe. Siende dat ek so baie van sy opnames gehoor het, ken ek tot vandag toe nog die lirieke van elke liedjie, dus was ek glad nie verbaas toe my dogter op ‘n jong ouderdom begin het om saam met die radio te sing wanneer die liedjies gespeel is nie.

So ‘n paar jaar gelede gesels ons as gesin weer so oor die Sondagmaal (my ma het toe nog by ons ingewoon) en ons praat van inhalige mense, en hulle kinders wat so baklei oor hulle erfporsies. My ma het heel dramaties verklaar dat sy tog niks besit wat haar kinders oor sal baklei as sy dood is nie. Dis toe wat my man afhaak en ‘n nuwe familiegesegde by ons versameling voeg: “Ja, as Ma doodgaan, erf ons net ‘n klomp Slim Whitman LPs en twee koekoekhoenders!”

Koekoekgroete en geniet die week.

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