The average YouTube viewer spends about 15 minutes at a time on the site, a fact that YouTube is trying to correct by creating better algorithms that will produce more relevant associations, in the hope the user will be enticed to stay longer. I must have broken all YouTube viewing records on my last day off, clocking in excess of two hours on the site – it’s a lot of 3 minute clips.
It was entirely the fault of a certain Diego De Silva, whose latest book, “I am against emotions”, is a disquisition on broken hearts, psychotherapy and Italian songs from the ’70’s. A “Melancholy audio” list is even provided as an addendum for readers like me who decide to fritter an afternoon away taking a long jog down memory lane. Way easier than dusting off old 45’s in the attic, not to mention more comprehensive than any record collection I might have accumulated from that time.
Jumping from song to song (those algorithms were working very well for me), from grainy black and white tv clip to bad audio live recordings, what struck me, and what Mr. De Silva points out in his hilarious book where he is capable of writing three whole pages on the most inane song and making it read as if he were reviewing a Bach cantata, is that double entendres were simply not done in those days and the sexual meanings of the most innocuous songs were devoid of any metaphor.
We know that Italian males are supposedly Latin lovers and that Italian women are consummate flirts, and that prime time Italian tv is populated by scantily dressed girls, with sex and nudity par for the course when watching most Italian tv but I never noticed how much sex was exalted in those “ancient” times of my childhood. Let’s take Raffaella Carra’s hit “Tanti Auguri”, the theme of which is the celebration of those who have many lovers and “if one doesn’t work out, who cares? I will take another”. This is from the blonde next door who conducted family shows on Saturday night. And in a country where divorce wasn’t even legal – or maybe because divorce wasn’t legal, it concocted ways of working around bad marriages. I wonder if the Church was throwing daggers or turning a blind eye.
From the mindless hits I then moved on to the suicide love songs of Mia Martini (who did indeed commit suicide) and Riccardo Cocciante I loved so much. I was barely 13. What did I know of “being ravaged for a whole night by a bastard who will not call in the morning?” (the essence of “Minuetto”). For that matter, what did I know about broken hearts and being abandoned and endless anguish other than what I had gleaned from “Little Women”?
On approaching hour two of this downhill run, I finally found the strength to hit the off switch – I was close to suicide myself or, at least, to a good cry for all those unhappy souls who were the soundtrack of my childhood. At 13, I discovered the Beatles and it was on to British and American rock from there, by way of punk. I never looked back until now and who knew that those inoffensive looking performers I admiringly watched on Saturday night were as unself-conscious about sex as Mick Jagger?
Watch until the end for a little surprise