Review: FRANCESCO GUCCINI – “Canzoni da tavern” (Track by track)


Second chapter of Francesco Guccini’s compilations and re-interpretations. After “Canzoni da intorto” here he is back with “Canzoni da tavern”.

Guccini is a collector of songs and makes playlists with the songs that accompany his story, his imagination, his memories and his heart.

“Canzoni da tavern” is a collection of popular songs selected by the Maestro, true jewels of the national and international repertoire revisited in a strictly personal key.

A sound journey along 14 tracks between culture, hidden traditions and history, which has as its starting point the Italian resistance anthem Bella ciao, continues in South America with Jacinto Chiclana, El caballo negro, La chacarera del 55 and Sur, up to sing about love in all its forms with Amore dove sei, Maria la guerza and La tieta; there is no shortage of the traditional Il canto dei batteli in Veneto, La maduneina from Baurgh ‘d San Pir in Bolognese, Hava nagila in Hebrew, the nostalgic The last thing on my mind and the American folk in Cotton fields; to close the album between Greek and Italian, the bilingual song 21 April.

Yet another educational album, full of “useful songs” as they were defined by Guccini himself, essential for not losing the memory, tradition and simplicity of a time that is now disappearing too quickly.


1. Hello beautiful

An evocative slow accordion prelude presents the unmistakable refrain of Bella ciao, the most important Italian popular song dedicated to the Italian Resistance. The pressing rhythm of the crescendo drums, the swirling dialogue of the wind instruments and the voice of Francesco Guccini gradually give vitality and passion to the opening track of Canzoni da tavern which, by choice of the Maestro di Pavana, wants to be an important homage to Persian women.

2. Jacinto Chiclana by Astor Piazzolla and Jorge Luis Borges

The second piece of the collection is a milonga, a Uruguayan folk dance, dedicated precisely to Jacinto Chiclana, guapo of the mala of old Buenos Aires. With a rhythmic and incisive intervention of the piano, the pressing notes of the accordion dialogue with the strings, accompanying the Maestro’s voice in an engaging story of the exploits of guappi, malevi and cuchilleros and their knife challenges to conquer honor.

3. Love Where You Are by Giorgio Laneve and Marcello Minerbi

Brought to success in 1970 by the Milanese engineer Giorgio Laneve and Marcello Minerbi, Amore dove sei is a melancholy and meditative love song, now revived by Francesco Guccini in a folk pop version. Klezmer sounds dominated by the insistent rhythm of the drums and playful interventions of guitar and trumpet, give an ethnic and engaging touch to this intense reflection on a love that is now absent and unattainable, What use is the thought of which I am so proud // If it can’t help you reach wherever you are // If it can’t bind you to my soul?

4. Maria la guerza (Mari la guerza) elaborated by Quinto Ferrari

Maria la guerza is a cheerful three-quarter waltz which, through colorful words in the Bolognese dialect, tells Marì’s love story with a tragic ending: a husband, jealous because his wife had gone to consume alcoholic drinks with a neighbour, suddenly enraged, “Scanna Marì the guerza and sends her to the gabariot”. Obviously, those who were imprisoned inside “al gabariot” had a short life: “andèr al gabariot” came into use as a synonym for “going to the cemetery, dying” – says Francesco Guccini.

5. El caballo negro (Yo quiero un caballo negro) by Atahualpa Yupanqui (Hector Roberto Chavero) and Pablo Del Cerro (Antonietta Paula Pepin)

Accompanied by the traditional and insistent Argentine arpeggio of the guitar, El caballo negro is the story of a man who strongly desires a black horse to travel across his land, discovering new places and experiencing new adventures. The song fully captures the essence of traditional South American music, paying 360° homage to Argentine culture and tradition.

6. La tieta by Juan Manuel Serrat Teresa

La tieta, a song written in Catalan by the singer Juan Manuel Serrat Teresa and translated into Italian by Paolo Limiti for Mina, is a dedication of love and gratitude for an elderly spinster aunt and for her solitary, modest and sad life. Proposed here in a more melancholy and danceable key, La tieta had already been translated into Emilian dialect by Francesco Guccini in the 2004 album Ritratto, “The only way which, in my opinion, gave me the possibility of maintaining the truncated Catalan syllables and faithfully respect the content” – he explains.

7. The song of the pile drivers

The pile drivers, Venetian workers from the Venice lagoon, used this work song in unison to mark the rhythm and lighten the effort. “One evening we sang it for a long time, simulating the falling of the mallet with large slaps on the table, blows that made bottles and glasses jump” – recalls Francesco Guccini.

8. Hava Nagila by Idelsohn Abraham Zwi

Jewish folk song, Hava nagila was composed by the musicologist Idelsohn Abraham Zwi in 1918 to celebrate the victory of the English in Palestine at the end of the First World War. Characterized by a cheerful and engaging melody, it is an invitation to celebrate, to be united in the name of joy and celebration. “This song is dedicated to his old friend Elisha who, after many years, felt the need to remember, with evident nostalgia, the period spent in Bologna and his old friends at the Osteria delle Dame” – says Francesco Guccini.

9. The last thing on my mind by Thomas Paxton

The last thing on my mind, written in 1964 by Tom Paxton, is the sweet and nostalgic country blues ballad that Francesco Guccini learned from his friend Lou Gottlie. The protagonist of this Guccinian reinterpretation is the acoustic guitar which, on simple looped chords, transports us to the magical rural atmospheres typical of the ’60s.

10. La chacarera del 55 (with Flaco Biondini) (Chacarera del cincuenta y cinco) by Rafael Nunez and Jose Antonio Nunez

With La chacarera del ’55 the Maestro di Pavana delights in a “chacarera”, a traditional dance from north-west Argentina with an upbeat rhythm. This time, in the Argentine language, it is told of an old place in San Miguel of Tucumán, “Al 55” where curious characters with fascinating stories used to spend entire nights who, amid chatter, toasts and guitars, waited for the dawn.

11. The maduneina from Baurgh ‘d San Pir (Maduneina dal bourg San Pir) by Quinto Ferrari

Nostalgic and sentimental, La maduneina dal Baurgh ‘d San Pir (“The Madonna of Borgo San Pietro”) is a song in Bolognese dialect written and extracted from the repertoire of the typographer Quinto Ferrari, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Help, protector of the inhabitants of the Borgo San Piero from the plague, but over the years a cause of guerrilla warfare between the Borgo and the Pratello district, where the maduneina was brought 30 days after Easter for just 30 hours, on the occasion of a big celebration. “This song recalls with a tender and melancholy melody that old Bologna which has now disappeared, in an era in which modernity has canceled that apparently simple, in reality articulated and complex, way of living” – recalls Francesco Guccini.

12. Cotton fields by Huddie Ledbetter

Track number 12 of Canzoni da tavern is Cotton fields, a traditional American folk song that tells of the hard life of workers in the cotton fields in the deep south of the United States. To introduce the country rock arpeggios of the banjo and the insistent rhythm guided by the clapping of hands, a solemn a cappella choral intro.

13. Sur by Homero Nicolas Manzione and Anibal Carmelo Troilo

Sur is a melancholy tango, written by the musician Anibal Carmelo Troilo and the poet Homero Nicolas Manzione. A love poem written in memory of a beloved woman now lost, which through a melody that is both melancholic and passionate, transports us lightly to the 1950s atmosphere of old Buenos Aires, cradle of dissonant rhythms and complex harmonies, precisely like the souls of those who live there.

14. April 21 by Alexandros Devetzoglou

Canzoni da tavern 21 April closes, an important piece written by his friend Alexandros Devetzoglou to tell and bring to life in memory the violent coup d’état of the Greek colonels of 21 April 1967. “He sang it in Greek and Italian, so I also sang it ‘I, with the title of ’21 April’” – says the Maestro, who offers the song here in the bilingual version.

SCORE: 7.00


Hello beautiful – Jacinto Chiclana – April 21st


I repeat myself…don’t skip the Maestro!


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.