[Monday Notes no.168] Vasco Rossi is one of the Italian singer-songwriters who most divides the audience: many love him, just as many dislike him. In fact, his music has characteristic features, unique in some respects, which can support opposing opinions and reviews. I have tried to analyze his song Va bene, va bene così, highlighting some of its peculiarities.
Among the elements that divide the opposing factions of admirers and detractors, in first place are definitely the lyrics. In fact, Vasco Rossi’s songs, especially those from his early days, recount the 1980s in an unusual way. The Emilian singer-songwriter recounts the degradation of a generation devoid of values, which grew up in the consumism of the 1980s but repudiates it and seeks solace in highs and drugs.
From this point of view his most important songs are Bollicine, Siamo solo noi, Fegato spappolato, just to name a few. Using his own words, Vasco Rossi tells of a “generation of stoned, which no longer have saints or heroes.”
In addition to the effectiveness of his lyrics, Vasco Rossi’s success is also a consequence of his undoubted charisma and ability to hold the stage like few others in Italy. However, his music also has some noteworthy characteristics, particularly a great melodic sense; moreover, Vasco has been able to surround himself with first-rate musicians.
This is certainly a note of merit, not least because in the 1980s, with the spread of sequencers and midi keyboards, many musicians produced albums full of electronics, which today sound completely outdated and almost make one smile. Instead, Vasco Rossi produced real acoustic rock, played with extreme skill by his musicians.
We analyze his song entitled Va bene, va bene così, in particular the version released on the 1984 live album of the same name. The song has an extremely banal harmony, based essentially on the classic II V I sequence. However, the song is remarkably well done, thanks to some special features.
The song opens with a very effective and elegant guitar arpeggio, which continues as Vasco Rossi sings the first words of the song, almost spoken. Here is the sheet music for the verse of Va bene, va bene così.
The refrain is equally simple, moving in fact on the chords of the scale: Dmaj7, Em7, F#m7, Gmaj7. The melody goes up an octave, reaching the highest notes.
At the end of the first chorus we expect the second verse, as in the vast majority of songs. Instead we can hear a beautiful soprano sax solo. Here is a transcription of it.
Vasco Rossi is therefore great at enhancing the musicians who accompany him, giving them more space than in most pop bands. The soprano saxophone in particular is often present in his more melodic songs.
Va bene, va bene così is a love song, although the lyrics still have that disenchanted and somewhat decadent flavor typical of so many of Vasco’s songs. On the finale, on the other hand, we can appreciate another of the most typical features of his music: the strong rock feel.
Not being suitable for the song itself, Vasco Rossi and his band relegate the rock part to the finale, with a real reprise at minute 3’35”. The song is practically over, but it reopens to give space once again to the musicians, again with a soprano sax solo, this time more incisive and less dreamy than in the beginning.
Va bene, va bene così is certainly not an original piece, if we just look at its melody and chords. However, Vasco Rossi and his band have managed to give it a distinct character and make it interesting. Not surprisingly, other singers including Mina have chosen to reinterpret this song, thus paying homage to the singer-songwriter from Zocca.
Until next Monday!