Chillo è nu buono guaglione

Pino Daniele, 1979

Chillo è nu buono guaglione
fà ‘a vita ‘e notte sott’a nu lampione
e quando arriva mezzanotte
scende e va a faticà’.

Chillo è nu buono guaglione
ma che peccato ca è nu poco ricchione
ha cominciato col vestito della sorella pe pazzià’

Chillo è nu buono guaglione
e vo’ essere na signora
chillo è nu buono guaglione
crede ancora all’amore

Chillo è nu buono guaglione
sogna la vita coniugale
ma per strada poi sta male
perché si girano a guardare.

Chillo è nu buono guaglione
s’astipa ‘e sorde pe ll’operazione
non ha alternativa, solo azione decisiva.

E mi chiamerò Teresa
scenderò a far la spesa
me facce crescere ‘e capille
e me metto ‘e tacchi a spillo.

Inviterò gli amici a casa
a passare una giornata
senza avere la paura
che ci sia una chiamata.

E uscire poi per strada
e gridare “so’ normale!”
e nisciuno me dice niente
e nemmeno la stradale.

Chillo è nu buono guaglione
e vo’ essere na signora.
Chillo è nu buono guaglione
crede ancor all’ammore.

He's a Good Guy

Translated by: Francesco Ciabattoni

He’s a good guy,
he makes his living under the street lamp
when midnight comes
he goes off to work.

He’s a good guy
what a shame he’s a bit of a queer
he started out for fun with his sister’s dress.

He’s a good guy
who wants to be a woman
he’s a good guy
and still believes in love.

He’s a good guy
and dreams about married life
but he feels bad in the streets
because everybody turns around to look at him.

He’s a good guy
he’s saving money for the surgery
he has no alternative, only a decisive action.

My name will be Teresa
I’ll go out in the street to go shopping
I’ll let my hair grow
and wear high heels

I’ll invite my friends over
and spend the day
without being afraid
that the police might come for me.

And I’ll go out in the street
and cry out “I’m normal!”
and nobody will say a thing
not even the police.

He’s a good guy
who wants to be a woman,
he’s a good guy
who still believes in love.

By Anthony Deldonna (Georgetown University)

The follow up to his debut, the eponymous Pino Daniele landed in 1979 and contained some of his most thoughtful songwriting along with a new distinctive sound. This approach emerges in the opening, pronounced rhythmic groove of “Chillo è nu buono guaglione.” The repetitive percussion sets the mood as the nimble bass line oscillates between e minor and b minor, contending with the recurrent, winding guitar part, more rhythmic than melodic. The distinctive club feel of the groove, akin to the four on the floor of disco, finds its full expression in Daniele’s narrative of a “good boy” on the streets of Naples. Each strophe is front loaded with the refrain, yet beginning on an anticipation mimicking the syncopated groove of the accompaniment while also underlining the rhythmic tension. Daniele unfolds the narrative in his characteristic and hard-edged vocal style, telling us about the good boy who works at night, comes to terms with his sexuality and ultimately decides that he wants to live freely and openly as a woman. Never one to spare details, Daniele tells us that the “good boy” is saving his money for “the surgery” and shifting to the downbeat for the first strophe lacking the hook, declares that his new name will be “Teresa,” amounting to a forceful declaration of her new identity. Teresa will embrace this new life openly, asserting to all, even the police, that she is “normal.” The highly controversial topics of homosexuality, prostitution and transgenderism (bear in mind that it is 1979) mark completely new ground for the canzone, traditionally given over to themes of natural beauty and love, loss, and some form of longing, often for the city itself. Yet, Daniele places us in the same city memorialized in earlier songs, however, focused on the changing social morays of urban life. Even today, it is well-known that after midnight in the Piazza Plebescito, many “nu buono guaglione” head to work under a lamppost, often the exterior lights of the Teatro San Carlo, dressed as women.