Sunday, May 29, 2011

A childhood memory...

There's a song my Grandfather would sing to me, usually while we were working outside together in the garden; It was about a donkey pulling a cart and when we got to a certain part, I got to hee-haw and make donkey noises. There were also parts where you pointed to your face and tapped your chest, and all manner of involvement which makes the song fun for kids.

I've always wanted to sing this song to my kiddo, but although I know how to pronounce the main words and the chorus, I couldn't remember the whole thing, and with the Sicilian language, the spelling isn't so intuitive. Being the Queen of Google searches, I've been astonished to not have found this song over the years with a quick 'net search. The song was even used in the Godfather movies, and more than once! He sings it while waiting at Ellis Island and it's used again in #3.

Today, I was determined!!! Kiddo lo0o0o0o0o0oves Eh Cumpari, and I've got him bopping to Mezza Luna Mare (it's such a bright and happy song, who cares that it's one big dirty joke? lol), but I've always wanted to sing the donkey song with him.

I finally found it: 'U sciccareddu! Sometimes called U sciccareddu Siciliano, aka The Donkey Song!

I'm sharing the lyrics here. There are variations ranging from a different word here or there to entirely different or additional verses:

'U sciccareddu
Avia 'nu sciaccareddu
ma veru sapuritu
a mia mi l'ammazzaru,
poveru sceccu miu.

*Chi bedda vuci avia,
paria nu gran tenuri
sciccareddu di lu me cori
comu io t'haiu a scurdari. (2 v.)

E quannu arragghiava facia
hee-haw, hee-haw, hee-haw
sciccareddu di lu me cori
comu io t'haiu a scurdari. (2 v.)*

Quannu 'ncuntrava nu cumpagnu
subito lu ciarava,
e doppu l'arraspava
cu granni carità.


Purtannulu a bivirari
virennu l'erba vagnata
lu mussu 'nzuccaratu
di 'nterra 'ncelu spincia.

Chi bedda vuci avia
paria un gran tinuri
sciccareddu di lu me cori
campa tu e cu mori mori. (2 v.) 

What does it all mean? It's something along the lines of: I had a little donkey, it was really funny (awesome?) I've killed my poor ass. What a beautiful voice he had, like a great tenor. When he sang he went: he-haw, he-haw, he-haw.. My donkey love, I will never forget you. Ah, the triple meanings.

There's a youtube video of a mom and little boy singing the song and doing the gestures. I came across it when I did a search for the song. I'd feel strange posting that here, even tho it's exactly what I've been talking about in this post. When I saw the video, the memories flooded back. I don't just mean thinking about my Grandfather in general, I mean very specific memories of being 2 years old and out in the garden, singing this song, gathering vegetables, trimming plants, weeding, and doing the things that make family a Family. I feel incredibly blessed to have had that growing up: A sense of Heritage, both mundane and magickal. When I head back outside with kiddo tomorrow morning to work on the labyrinth, I'll finally get to teach him this song and I can already feel Gramps smiling on the endeavor. It feels like that tingle of Magic. That, I think is the main difference with "Strega" and Wiccans: In general, Wiccans have their mundane life and then they have their magic life: It's more compartmentalized/they have to work harder for it, like learning another language. Italians are a magickal people: it's our native tongue. The magic is so well woven into the fabric of every day life that it's inseparable- you don't have to think about it because it's always there and always in use. Even with most being Catholic (and you know I maintain that Catholicism is just repackaged Roman Paganism) they have a magickal flow to life: The intergration is nearly seamless: Their religious life isn't confined to an hour on Sundays- it's how you plant the garden, it's the art of cooking, it's knowing the times to honor different aspects of life, it's the thousands of little traditions that are so ingrained that though many have lost the origin of the practice, they know to do it because they know it works and because there is a certain respect for who and what came before. Italians, as a people, are lucky to have that bond of Heritage and Tradition. Italian-Americans who have it are luckier still that it was brought here across the ocean.

Here's a youtube video of the song. Aside from the one of the mom and her son, this is my favorite, because someone got their Zia to sing it on camera. It's not a professional, it's not a group crooning at a festival, it's just the family sitting around the table and singing one of the songs, recording it so they'd have it always. She also does the donkey part right: Funny, not operatic! It's a very dramatic song and then suddenly the singer busts out with donkey sounds! It's supposed to be funny, not some Pavoratti-esque thing. Ah, the ego. Get it out of the way and make with the funny! Italians know that humor is part of magic too! Enjoy! Back tomorrow, perhaps with more songs, perhaps with a labyrinth update- it's as much a surprise to me as it is to you!

I've changed my mind. They have 1400 hits, I think they're ok with people watching it/ Here's the Mom and Son:

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