Its author has recently defined it as “awkward”. If it really were so, who knows how many singers would be willing to give up part of their own repertoire just to make room to a piece like “La Donna Cannone”. Because, if the secret for a good song is that of creating an indissoluble harmony between lyrics and music, here we are close to perfection. It’s not so easy, even for singer-songwriters, to tell a love story with a few, simple graphic details, without falling into the dullness trap or, worse, plunge into sweetness (just like Venditti, who shared with De Gregori his beginnings). In fact, the images the lyrics suggest couldn’t find a better exaltation than the one of this melody, able to evoke the darkest sky and the dizziest flight with the same effect.
According to the artist’s official website, the piece may have taken inspiration from news item: a circus was going out of business when the fat woman, its greatest highlight, escaped to follow a great love of hers. Through De Gregori’s lyrics, freed of “freak” stereotype, she tells her elopement in the first person, giving voice to a boundless desire of love, tenderness and, above all, a normal life, far from those who exploit differences in order to make a show. De Gregori does his best when he portrays his out of the ordinary characters, often isolated from the rest of the society. As only few people can do, he manages to identify a perspective that never is the same as the newspapers or the history books ones.
As regard music side, “La donna cannone” recalls piano ballad style, which characterized other this Italian singer-songwriter’s famous pieces ( such as “Rimmel” or “Generale”). Never happened that a piano entry was been so able to catch the core of the entire piece and make it recognizable after only three notes. Just those three notes power pushed this song to the top of the Italian hit-single charts: strangely, it is a piece that was never recorded on the single but only on the LP in 1983 (source http://www.hitparadeitalia.it/schede/d/donna_cannone.htm)
On the Net is available a good arrangement for “La Donna cannone”. Here is the link, so you can add another piece of Italian music to your musical store. Download it here for free.
Here is another score for those who are not able to make out the previous one.