De Gregori Visits Casa Italiana at the Kick Off of His NY Debut
Monday, on the eve of his first performance in New York City, Italian singer-songwriter Francesco De Gregori was hosted by NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, for a conversation with Stefano Albertini, Clinical Associate Professor Of Italian at NYU and Director of Casa Italiana.
De Gregori's NY Debut
De Gregori’s concert, which took place on Nov. 7 at the legendary Town Hall venue in Midtown, is the second show of the artist’s United States debut, following an inaugural performance in Boston this past weekend. His American concert series is important not only because it is a long-awaited appearance on US soil, but also because is one that spans the culmination of his entire career.
“It’s a concert that is not representing just one CD, it’s not promoting one CD. When I do a concert normally I try to make a setlist, I try to play 20-23 songs that represent a part of my career that starts since I was 25 years old till now. I want to represent myself the way I feel, and I feel like a man who has written so many songs in his life that it’s not just a conventional thing….it’s my ambition,” said De Gregori as he addressed the crowd at Casa Italiana.
De Gregori and His US Models
In his conversation with Albertini, the musician discussed his deep and ongoing relationship with American music and culture. De Gregori, born in Rome in 1951, recounted his first experiences with American music, thanks to his older brother, who would play their grandfather’s guitar in the house let him listen to Elvis Presley in the 60’s. This is the point when De Gregori fell in love with instrumentation like bass and drums.
“Elvis is sort of a bridge between Italian and American music because one of his first songs that I heard was “It’s Now or Never,” that is the translation in English of an important song that is “O Sole Mio.” Maybe this has some kind of connection for what I am here for, Italian and AMerican music that sticks together,” mused De Gregori.
More than just American music, other aspects of American culture such as movies and cartoons also inspired the young De Gregori and greatly influenced his development since childhood.
De Gregori recounted, “My brother used to play cowboy songs, country songs, western songs, so this was my first impact with guitar. And this has strong relation with the movies I started to see at the time, John Wayne etc. And the comics like Superman, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck. These had been the first impressions of American culture in my life.”
De Gregori and Bob Dylan
De Gregori is often esteemed to the same level as Bob Dylan, one of the singer’s strongest musical influences. In 2015 he released an album De Gregori canta Bob Dylan – Amore e Furto, which immediately became the record of the week and hit the top of the Fimi/Gfk Chart.
“Well Bob Dylan, he created the revolution in the music of the world. And I think that I am not the only one who is so fascinated by him. Sometimes, I happen to listen to some songs by American artists and I think, ‘Oh this is just like Bob Dylan.’,” the artist remarked of the great American folk singer.
For De Gregori, these US performances signify not only a new platform to share his music, but also an emotional return to the origins of the trajectory of his remarkable career as a musician. “American music, I think the roots of my music are still with her, in part,” he said.