Newspaper Articles

Italian Pop Wins for None
by James M. Long
February 6, 1968
The Arizona Republic
Phoenix Arizona

ROME (AP) - The swinging singers of one of Europe's biggest pop tune festivals have turned down the American-led wave of protest songs and gone back to that good old theme of love, love, love.

It was a full turnabout from last year's show when the three-day San Remo songfest thundered with complaints against the bomb and racism and pleas to stuff the cannon full of flowers.

There wasn't a howl of protest in any of the 24 songs in this year's festival, which ended Saturday night after attracting as much attention in Italy as a national election.

There were other big losers beside the protest songs. There wasn't a real miniskirt on any of the women singers. More gowns touched the floor than the knees.

A good many newspapers said that much itself was one of the big losers in this melodic land of "O Sole Mio." One newspaper headlined: "The songs are mediocre." That was about the highest praise given.

The blame couldn't really be put on the singers. Not even swinging Nino Ferrer of France could push into the finals a song whose chorus went: "The king of England is waging war by land and sea against the king of Peru. And Mrs. Pina has poisoned her next-door neighbor with strychnine."

For all their find close harmony, American mamma Barbara Cowsill and five singing children had equally no chance with a tune whose words went: "Bartolomeo bored 1,112 holes in a straight line down a piece of iron."

The great Louis Armstrong sweated his way into the finals, but far short of victory, as he horse-voiced his way through a love lyric he said he had tolled mightily to learn in Italian. He could have spared the effort. Hardly anyone could understand a word of it, but the crown hailed him as a living legend of the days of jazz.

The 36 professors of music who made up the orchestra rose to their feet and played the music for him standing, in an unprecedented tribute. Satchmo was led away in tears of emotion.

Most of the big-name foreign singers in the festival failed to get as far as the finals.

That is not unusual. Italians almost always win their at-home festival. But this year there was a difference. Winning first place with a tune called "Song For You" were Sergio Endrigo and soft-voiced Roberto Carlos of Brazil. Although Endrigo is Italian, he was born at Pola, now Yugoslavia.

For the three night the festival held top spot on Italian TV, streets in the major cities were almost deserted as families stayed home around their sets. After the first night, Italian newspapers gave more space to the song show than they did to three votes of confidence that night in parliament which saved the Italian government.

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