Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Prato, Paolo. “Selling Italy by the Sound: Cross-Cultural Interchanges through Cover Records.” Popular Music 26 (October 2007): 441-62.

Despite a current lack of English-speaking musicians covering Italian songs, in prior decades (especially the 1960s) there was much covering of Italian music by non-Italians and non-Italian music by Italians. Many of these covers would maintain the music of the original song while changing the lyrics, either through approximate translation or a complete re-writing of the meaning of the original text. This brought about musical modernity for Italian canzone. A theory of “coverability” suggests that songs written in the classical and pre-rock veins are most easily covered because they provide recognizable structure and melody and are based in notation. In contrast, rock and roll is based in orality and performance, and songs like Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile and Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, which are defined by particular recordings, resist replication. The “cultural imperialism thesis” of Francesco Alberoni applies to these covers: songs from the USA and the UK are the most likely to be hits (and thus likely to be covered) in other countries, followed by those of other European countries, down to those countries whose songs are unlikely to be covered.

Works: I Dik Dik: Senza luce (442), Sognando California (442); The Rokes: Che colpa abbiamo noi (442); Patty Pravo: Ragazzo triste (443); Bing Crosby, Richard Tucker, and Gracie Fields: Come Back to Sorrento (452); Elvis Presley: It’s Now or Never (452), Viva Las Vegas (452); Al Hoffman, Leo Corday, and Leon Carr (songwriters) and Dean Martin (performer): There’s No Tomorrow (452); Lou Monte: Don’t Say Forever (452); Vic Damone and Frank Sinatra: I Have But One Heart (452); Stevie Wonder: Il sole è di tutti (457).

Sources: Procol Harum: Whiter Shade of Pale (442); Bob Lind: Cheryl’s Going Home (442); John Phillips and Michelle Phillips (songwriters) and The Mamas &The Papas (performers): California Dreamin’ (442); Sonny and Cher: But You’re Mine (443); Ernesto de Curtis: Torna a Surriento (452); Eduardo di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi: ’O sole mio (452); Teodoro Cottrau: Santa Lucia (452); Salvatore Gambardella: O’ marinariello (452); Stevie Wonder: A Place in the Sun (457).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Nathan Landes

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