Then, two weeks ago, I released a video with a young accordion player from Santu Lussurgiu of a song we wrote with his relative Giuseppe Scano, “Il Paese dei Brividi” (The Place that Gives You Goosebumps”) as an homage to the beauty and sense of welcome that I and so many other outsiders experience upon entering it for the first time. Crucially, however, the song is written from their perspective, emphasizing the things they hope might first be noticed and appreciated in the village, thus giving me key insights into how they themselves see the village of their birth. In the song, I sing and play rhythm guitar, and the accordion player Matteo Scano plays a blues-inflected harmonica introduction and then lets loose with beautiful, cascading harmonica “fills” and solos throughout the rest of the song. The song itself was inspired by two Sardinian melodies, one a Sardinian ballad called “passu torrau” recalled in the chorus, and the other from the Catholic liturgy sung in Sardo, “Deus ti Salvet Maria”, which we then modified, ran with, and made our own.
Thus, our song about “Un’Americana In Paese” becomes a micro-ethnography in one small Sardinian village of how Sardi negotiate American presences in their worlds, how they see outsiders and self/other, and the things they see and value in American culture and in their own. This, in turn, also gives insight into how Giuseppe and Matteo also see their own village, i.e. the things that to them “make” the place and that others, on coming in, should see first or understand. This, I am given new ethnographic eyes into this place I am coming to love.
Perhaps, in the end, “Il Paese dei Brividi” as a genre of music is what Italian journalist Cinzia Meroni in an article she wrote for the newspaper L’Unione Sarda, terms “Country Sardo-Americana” (Sardinian American country), a genre that fuses, blends, and ultimately reinforces what it means to be Sardo and from the village of Santu Lussurzu.
Thank you to: Matteo Scano for songwriting, videography, sound engineering, the idea to make the video, and overall for being such a joy to write a song with; to cowriter Giuseppe Scano, to Michela Scano for videography and photography, to Giampaolo Mura and the Distillery of Carlo Pische for permission to include footage of them in the video and in this blog. Thank you also to Giacomo Spanu, Franceso Deriu, Marco Lutzu and the children Emanuele, Antonio and Gabriele for permission to include the playing in the streets of Santu Lussurgiu.