Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tu vuo' fa' l'americano

Nobody who has set food in Italy over the last few months hasn't heard the addicting (or annoying, depending who you ask) tune of 'We No Speak Americano.' It's dominated the Italian pop music scene for pretty much the whole summer, and is likely to be heard blasting out of tiny fiats driven by aviator/trucker hat/tracksuit-clad teenagers.

This song has a lot more history than you might think. The old-fashioned sounding song that it uses is a Neapolitan post-World War II tune that is basically telling Italians to be themselves. When American soldiers flooded Italy towards the end of the war, intermingling and socializing with their Italian counterparts, the Italians were somewhat impressed.

So much so that it was very common to imitate the Americans in the way they dressed, acted, etc. This became known as 'doing the American,' or 'fare l'americano.' Since then, fare l'americano is an expression used to describe someone who tries to impress others by acting like them, abandoning their own roots and traditions. Renato Carosone wrote this song in the Neopolitan dialect to tell Italians to stop 'doing the American' and be themselves:

tu vuo' fa' l'americano - You want to do the American
ma sì nato in Italy - But you were born in Italy
non ce sta' niente a 'ffa - You've got nothing to do with it
Comme te po' capì chi te vò bene - How can the one who loves you understand you
si tu le parle 'mmiezzo americano? - If you speak half American
Quando se fa l'ammore sotto 'a luna - When you make love under the moon
come te vene 'n' capa 'e dì: 'I love you' - What will come to mind, 'I love you?'

The rest of the translated lyrics can be found here (did you really think I understood Neopolitan?!)


  1. Thanks for the video! That exact tune has been in my head for a while and I've always been curious to know who sang it!

  2. This has certainly bugged me all summer! I discovered you via italy tutto this evening and was very interested in this post as I post a Sunday Song feature every week.
    Would you be interested in me featuring this post as a guest link one week? I would of course give you full credits. If not no problem as I can write my own post around the song. Just thought I would ask first :)

  3. Thanks for the feedback!

    LindyLouMac, it would be fine if you re-posted or added on to this article, I just ask that you attribute it to me with a link. I'd love to see it when you finish!

  4. Brilliant thankyou so much for agreeing. I will probably be posting mid-September and will of course let you know, as soon as I do so. There will of course be full credits and link to your blog included.

    Meanwhile you may like to look at yesterdays Sunday Song to get an idea of what I will be doing!

  5. Don't think I will be hearing this in Georgia USA, but I like it and agree.

  6. OK my Sunday Song post is up using this Song and linking back to you. Thankyou :)