old frac

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Published May 19, 2012 by Tony

A Domenico Modugno Song

This is another song by the famous Italian singer Domenico Modugno, the writer of “Volare” (To fly). Entitled “OLD FRAC” is an old song but it’s always a pleasure to listen it, a song arranged later by other singers, but I’m proposing you the original version by the attached video. It is a melancholy poem whose words bring us back to old times, but through a timeless theme that unfortunately is still relevant: the suicide. The lyric masterfully composed, through a few words gives us the frames of some scenes while leaves much to the imagination. We can picture that man dressed in tailcoat, elegant and distinguished who is walking alone down the street late at night, was at a party or just been dumped by his woman. Sure he’s drunk, welcoming each object in its path by a simple bon nuit …. before reaching the bridge over the river. Whether for love or for bankruptcy, the next scene is clear: the top hat and tails floating in the water announce us his death, the death of a stranger who probably went away with the same discretion and elegance with whom he had lived.

In these cases, engaging in the translation of a lyric is always difficult, losing metric and rhymes. Therefore, consider it a simple literal translation and hear the song that is very beautiful.


Midnight is reached
noises are turned off
turned off even the last coffee’s sign
the streets are deserted
deserted and silent
that last carriage squeaking goes away
The river flows slowly
rustling under the bridge
the moon shines in the sky
sleeps through the city
only a man is going in a frac (tails)

He has a cylinder as hat
two diamonds for cuff-links
a stick of crystal
the gardenia as flagship
and on the candid waistcoats
a papillon, a blue silk papion

approaching slowly
with elegant gait
looking dreamy
melancholy and absent
don’t know from where comes
nor where he is going
Who ever is he
that man in frac

Buon nui, buon nui, buon nui, buon nui
good night
he is saying at anything
at the lanterns lit
at a rutting  cat
that stray goes away

And now it’s dawn
turn off the lights
wakes up gradually the whole city
the moon looks enchanted
surprise and pale
slowly fades into the sky and gradually will disappear

Yawns a window
on the silent river
and in the white light floating
a cylinder, a flower and a tail go away.

floating gently
let themselves rock
he goes down slowly
under the bridge to the sea
towards the sea
Who ever he will be
Who will ever be that man in frac.

Adieu, adieu, adieu, adieu, farewell to all the world
to the memories of the past
to a never dreamed dream
to a moment of love.