Volare (Nel blu dipinto di blu): Domenico Modugno

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5 Comments on “Volare (Nel blu dipinto di blu): Domenico Modugno”

  1. im6 Says:

    And just like that, it’s 1958 on my computer. Love this song. Now to go listen to “Al Di La” (see below).

    …the biggest hit of the summer of 1958 — and, indeed, the whole year — was not an export, but an import; “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu,” better known as “Volare” (“Flying”) by an artist with the unmistakably Italian name of Domenico Modugno.

    “Volare” was the most successful foreign-language hit in U.S. history, but its success inspired imitation, and for a few years international sounds were a regular part of the pop mix. Italians continued to lead the way; Connie Francis recorded an album of Italian favorites in 1959 that was so popular she recorded five more in the next four years, as well as collections of Spanish, German, and Yiddish songs. Emilio Pericoli’s “Al di là” reached the top ten in 1962 and the number one hits of 1963 included the Singing Nun’s French “Dominique,” and Kyu Sakamoto’s Japanese “Sukiyaki.”

    The uniqueness of this breakthrough is underlined by how unusual the song was considered even in Italy. Modugno was an actor, songwriter, and radio personality whose voice was considered rather rough and unsophisticated — in Italian terms, he was an urlatore, or “yeller,” rather than a great singer. As for the song itself, co-writer Franco Migliacci was inspired by a Marc Chagall painting of a hovering figure with a blue face, and imagined someone daubing himself blue and flying through space. With that unlikely base, they wrote a soaring paean to freedom, and Modugno set the Italian pop world on its ear by winning the prestigious San Remo Festival as both singer and composer. He went on to perform the song as Italy’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, taking third prize and inspiring covers throughout Europe in various languages.


    • katry Says:

      That article was really interesting. It is easy to remember rock and roll and doo-wop, but I also remember singing along to Volare, and I still remember a good part of it. I really liked Sukiyaki as it has such an unusual sound.

      Once I listened to it, I remembered Al- Di- La. I also remember Connie Francis Italian songs.

      I went hunting as I generally do for the original singer. I didn’t remember Domenico Modugno which is a bit odd given his success with this song. The first clip I found was on You Tube. Domenico was singing on the Ed Sullivan show. I wanted that one, but YouTube thwarted me.

      To think it took until 1958 before a foreign language song had success here.

  2. im6 Says:

    Speaking of Italian hits, I love, love, love Ms. Dusty’s cover of this one, Here’s the original (which ain’t bad either 🙂 ):

    • katry Says:

      I love the full orchestra opening. I can hear Dusty in my head singing this song, and I did sing along in English while this was playing. I never knew the song’s origins. Thanks!!

  3. Bob Says:

    Thanks for the memory. This was one of my favorite songs when I was a kid.

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