David Bowie and Mick Ronson’s Roman Holidays, spent listening to Lucio Battisti and Claudio Baglioni
“Io vorrei… non vorrei… io me ne andrei…”
I’d like….I wouldn’t like… I’d go…
2 August 1973: in the outskirts of Rome, towards Bracciano in the neighbourhood of La Storta in Villa San Nicola, David Bowie’s entourage is arriving, some in train, some by air. They’ve just finished recording Pin Ups, the Sixties cover album, at Château d’Hérouville, 30 km away from Paris. Among the many faces, two stand out from the crowd: Mick Ronson, guitarist who made Bowie famous, and his spirited girlfriend Suzi Fussey, personal hairdresser to Ziggy.
The King of Rock, Bowie welcomes various Italian music VIPs into the entourage, including Patti Pravo who recalls meeting “very pleasant”, delightful people, “a beautiful house with a beautiful pool”, but then returns to London on August 7 to mix PIN UPS: the rest of the group stay in Italy. It is the triumph of love that’s blossoming between Suzi and Mick, who play to lose themselves in ner core de Roma – that is, in heart of Rome – from bars to ruins of times that once were, fascinated and seduced by the Eternal City and the music. There are two songs above all that bewitch them: I would… I would not… but if you want (Io vorrei… non vorrei… ma se vuoi) Lucio Battisti, from Il mio canto libero, the best-selling album of the year, and I would leave (Io me ne andrei) by Claudio Baglioni, from the album Gira che ti rigira amore bello.
The third week of August and the end of the holidays rolls around for everyone. Those songs buzz in the head of Mick and Suzy’s heart swells with love: on 4 September Mick begins to record his first album SLAUGHTER ON 10TH AVENUE, and sneaks his Battisti cover inside. But the words of Mogol are difficult to translate into English, so he decides to rewrite the text: “and I would … I would not … but if you want to” becomes “Music is Lethal”.
The words are attributed to Bowie, but in 2008 Suzy was credited too. In fact, the text seems to mix those Roman holidays and allusions to Bowie’s dismissal of Ronson. The same occurs with I would go: the lyrics become The Empty Bed, in the album DO NOT WORRY (1975), which mixes dramatic scenes of love and once again allusions to Bowie, although this time the lyrics are credited just to Ronson. Baglioni was flattered by the Ronson version. Who knows what Battisti thinks. But then… coss’e’ amor’, what is love….