Pino Daniele, the “Soundtrack” of Neapolitan Life

January 16, 2015 / Local Interest
Napoli, Campania

Wrapping a gift box, Neapolitan jeweler Enrico summed it up: “Pino Daniele is Naples. Naples is the real artist, the mother of all; he’s an expression of her. And only in Naples could the Piazza del Plebiscito gathering happen. Without the ‘tam-tam’ of the social network – a spontaneous union of napoletani for our Pino.”

How not to share in Naples’ final tribute to the songwriter-poet/singer who lauded his Naples in a mixture of traditional Neapolitan music, blues and rock? On January 7th, I joined the napoletani for their addio to Pino Daniele in Piazza del Plebiscito. 

Napul e' mille cullur

There’d been a funeral in Rome hours prior – where the Neapolitan singer had died of a heart attack at the age of 59 on Jan 4 – but “his” Naples merited the final addio, over 100,000 joining for a leave-taking as it should have been: all united in singing his songs after the funeral Mass.

Heading into Piazza Plebiscito in the late afternoon, I stopped in front of Café Gambrinus bordering the piazza where three guitarists had linked up to strum his songs. Two young women with strong melodic voices led the guitarists from one Pino Daniele song to another and fans enroute to the funeral paused to join in a song or two, many misty-eyed.  

Song before

I reached the piazza center – already crowded – about an hour before the funeral Mass on an open stage: Pino Daniele’s last public appearance. Around me, napoletani of all ages, reminisced, telephoned far-off friends, took selfies – and spontaneously broke into song, with “Napul’e’”, a header. Some held up favorite Pino Daniele records; a young man lifted high a guitar in homage and teens stretched out blue and white Naples soccer team scarves over their heads.   

I chatted with a blond young woman, Angela, next to me and after an hour of standing with barely enough room to turn around, told her I thought I’d head to a cafe’ to watch it all on a TV. She replied with a smile, “Ma perdi la napoletanita’.”  I knew she was right: I’d miss the “Neapolitan-ness”, or that indescribable, indefinable essence of being a Neapolitan.

I stayed.  

As we waited, those around me told me why they’d come. Mario, age 22 (from a town 2 hrs away): “I’ve listened to his music all my life. I had to come.”
Carmine (from Naples), age 25 “I’ve been standing here for two hours. It just wasn’t possible to say ‘addio’ from home: I needed to be here.”
Fabrizia (with her boyfriend- from Naples), age 28 “He’s accompanied us all as we grew up: the soundtrack of our lives.. For all. Of all ages.”

No view of the stage from my spot but I knew his coffin was heading up the steps to the altar when thunderous applause broke out, followed by shouts of “Pino, Pino, Pinu, Pinu” trailed by the soccer stadium refrain, “ale’ ooooo, ale’ ooooo, ale’…

And later, as the Mass ended, all joined in song, the young of today, the young of yesterday, the guards in front of Palazzo Salerno on the piazza, a stooped elderly lady in a wheelchair, embracing older couples, hugging younger ones, the emergency rescue volunteers in front of the ambulances.

All ages here

Tears slid down cheeks and umbrellas opened as a few raindrops trickled, scenes in perfect harmony with the song everyone sang together, “Quanno chiove” (in napoletano, ‘When it rains”). Voices joined in other favorites: “Voglio o Mare,” “Amore Senza Fine,” “Yes I Know My Way,”  “A Testa in Giu’.”

That piazza was Pino Daniele’s that night – and so was all of Naples. And it always will be.

www.pinodaniele.com, and videos to some other favorites such as “Anna Verra’,” “Nun me Scoccia’,” “I Say I’ Sto Ccà,” “Na Tazzulella ‘e Cafe’,” and a version of “Je so Pazzo” with Pat Metheny.

Tears run down

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Music stores tributes

Equestrian statue and crowd

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

41 Responses to “Pino Daniele, the “Soundtrack” of Neapolitan Life”

  1. Patrizia Carroll

    Thanks, Anne, for writing such a lovely article on Naples farewell to Pino.

    Reply
  2. Ann Krapf

    Anne, Thank you for letting us in to see the private, very personal side of Italy that most tourists will never get to experience. Thank you also for the links to his songs to let us get to know his music.

    Reply
  3. Leslie X.

    And such a well written article with so much thought. You really brought me back to the life that I had Naples. Thank you for this beautifully written piece.

    Reply
  4. Nancy Mazza

    Again, Annie, I thank you so much for this beautiful, personal story. I had not heard the news of his death yet. I was fortunate to see him last year when he came to SF Jazz. The auditorium was filled to capacity with Italians. He has been a big part of so many lives for so many years. Thank you for standing in such crowded conditions for so long to get this story.

    Reply
  5. Rosemary Johnson

    I will have to check out the music of this beloved man! Thanks for the article!

    Reply
  6. Sandie Potter

    Anne
    What an elaborate farewell to such an extrordinary man. We had not heard of Pino before and enjoyed hearing his music. Thank you for sharing this story with us.

    Reply
  7. Stephanie Webb

    I must check out this beloved musician of Naples! Thank you for givimg us a glimpse into this gentleman’s life and those who loved him.

    Reply
  8. Art Berman

    Wonderful story, Anne, on this slice of Neopolitan life. I loved the YouTube links.

    Reply
  9. Katie Larsh

    Thank you, Annie for sharing this moving story of this singer, songwriter, Pino Daniele and how he touched the people of Naples! I loved listening to him on the youtube you attached! Thank you. Love keeping in touch with Italy through your beautiful vignettes the background stories that make each place come alive.

    Reply
  10. What a tribute. As usual, always written in a way that allows me to feel as if I’m there experiencing it. Authenic, genuine, personal.

    Reply
  11. Jennifer Erdmanis

    Thank you Anne for a lovely poignant article with wonderful pictures.
    Naples is one of J&J’s favourite cities for its buzz and edginess, not to mention music and cuisine. You brought it to life, I can imagine scene at the Piazza de Plebiscito from your article. Vale Pino Daniele.

    Reply
  12. Bill Kreisher

    As always, Anne, you are a true messenger of Italy and it’s culture. This is good stuff that stirs the Italian in every soul. I also highly recommend Chris Botti in his collaboration with Bocelli as a contemporary equal to this task. Saw him recently in my home town of Boston. I’d highly recommend seeing him if you can. Ciao!

    Reply
  13. Peggy Hackney

    Your writing touched my heart, and I feel compelled to rush out to buy another album of his music! Thank you.

    Reply
  14. Aaron Tay

    I enjoyed that article you wrote and linked me to. I never heard of Pino Daniele before this but i’m sure he was well loved by Italy. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  15. Rose Murray

    Thank you for sharing Anne. What a wonderful article and tribute you have written in honor of such a talented and loved man.

    Reply
  16. Such a lovely article. Anne sure made one appreciate how loved Pino was by those of all ages and backgrounds…Ciao Pino!

    Reply
  17. Louis Sirianni

    Dear Anne

    I Like all your writing ……..and very much appreciated your being in Naples for Pino’s funeral.
    Reading your report I felt like I could have been there.

    Thank you
    Louis

    Dear Anne

    I Like all your writing ……..and very much appreciated your being in Naples for Pino’s funeral.
    Reading your report I felt like I could have been there.

    Thank you
    Louis

    Reply
  18. Glorianna Pionati, or Glory Ginday

    OH! Anne thank you for such wonderful coverage of Italian events that I miss so much. When I see your picture and read your words I feel as though I am there too. Much love from Morocco.

    Reply
  19. Col Begg

    Anne – Like Pino, you too have a special gift for communicating very special messages about a very special part of Italy … and many visitors to your wonderful Umbria are so much richer for that. xo

    Reply
  20. Katie B.

    Thank you, Anne, for this piece. I’ve heard the music, but I hadn’t really known the artist or his story. It’s lovely how the Italians are so passionate about their music…with good reason. You bring Italy to life for those of us who can’t always be there!

    Reply
  21. Anne, thank you for sharing your article about Pino Daniele, and his personal impact on Neapolitans! Best wishes for your US tour.

    Reply
  22. Thank you Anne for once again sharing such a wonderful personal story that portrays so eloquently an iconic Neapolitana singer. I only wish my Neapolitana mama could be here with me as I now listen to this sweet voice serenade me as I eat my antipasto before dinner with a glass of wine. Keep up the great writing and sharing of Italy we would never know about, without you stories, brilliant!

    Reply
  23. Mark & Kathleen Lomazzo

    Thank you Annie for introducing Pino Daniele’s music and artistry in this final tribute. This is the first occasion that we have had to listen to his music, and we were moved by his beautiful voice. We had never heard of Pino until this point.
    Mark & Kathleen

    Reply
  24. Anne Robichaud

    Thanks so much to each for your heartfelt comments. Rode along with Pino today to a restoration project his crew is doing in L’Aquila: Pino Daniele CD to keep us company all the way…..(Nancy M., how I wish I could have been with you in SF for that concert!)

    Reply
  25. Sandi Spector

    Annie, you manage to get the feeling & flavor like no one else. You make people want to be at a funeral for heavens sake! Looking forward to seeing you in CA

    Reply
  26. Anne,
    What a lovely remembrance of a man whose art was meaningful to so many. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  27. Lucy Smith

    What a clear window Anne provides of life in Italy! This story of Pino Danielle, an artist I was woefully unaware of until now, was superb. Thank you, Anne, for this close-up view of “being there”!

    Reply
  28. Susie Caskey

    As always Annie provides the story inside the story…I had never had the opportunity to hear Pino Danielle but the links to the music made it possible to quickly understand why he is so beloved! I may not understand the words but the soft tones and warm music are a universal language for all to hear and enjoy. Thank you for such a wonderful story.

    Reply
  29. Anne. To whatever you write or speak on you bring us the passion, the very heart of that subject…And Give US THE Feeling That Was Meat To Be IN That work!!!

    Reply
  30. Suzanne and Jack

    Dear Anne,
    I had not heard of Pino Daniele before reading your wonderful tribute to him and his music. What a delightful discovery for us. Thank you. Another example of how you introduce the wonders of Italy to us.

    Reply
  31. Gull-Britt Lundsröm

    As allways when you write Anne, it is so intresting.Even whithout the fhotos,you can see it in front of you.Thank you! I lissen a lot to his music.

    Reply
  32. Anna Retsker

    Thank you, Anne, for this wonderful story. What a great singer! I’ve listened to his music on the links you provided and liked it a lot! Please continue writing and discovering Italy for us! Anna

    Reply
  33. Robin Allen

    Loved the send on Pino, your really have a gift for sharing the personable, intimate sides of Italy in all you do!

    Reply
  34. Ann sage

    Wonderful description of the funeral and all the comments. Looking forward to seeing Anne in Texas…..Hope to be her town-to-town chauffeur!

    Reply

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