Spring is here.
Is erraigh anseo.
As dawn breaks I set off for my morning run through the woods.
No more the sharp sting of winter winds.
No. Now the daffodils and bluebells are in bloom and through the echoing timber the melodies of the lark and thrush sweeten the air.
Nothing is so beautiful as spring.Embed from Getty Images
Bud and bloom and blossom.
A time of promise and an echo of the sweet beginning of being in Eden.
La primavera e qui. La primavera e qui.
Time for La bella figura.
Time for me to carefully roll the Roadster out of its winter quarters.
Time to turn up the collar on the leather jacket, set the Donegal tweed cap at a jaunty angle and put some va va voom into the blue highways of the Surrey Hills.
Of course, there’s a Jukebox playlist for the occasion.
The Beach Boys, ‘I Get Around’, Thin Lizzy, ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’, Junior Parker, ‘Feelin Good’ set the wheels a rollin’ very nicely.
But, there’s ten versions of one song I always play as I swoop up and down the Hills to announce, top down and volume way, way up, that Spring has sprung!
Spring brings out the Italian in me – something about the brightness of the sun and the promise of golden days ahead.
Maybe, this year, I’ll see once more that old moon above the Mediterranean Sea.
And be woken by the sun over the mountains.
Il tempo per un festival.
La primavera e qui.
Buona Sera Signorina!
First, a version by the artist who will always remain first and foremost in my affections.
You can be sure that Van has spent many an hour listening to the original by Louis Prima (see earlier Jukebox tribute to Louis).
Perhaps he first played it on Sax when he was a member of the Monarchs Showband at the very dawn of his professional life in music.
Here in 1971 he careens through the song like a Cresta Run bobsleigher going for the record.
You can hear his obvious love and affection for Swing and Jump Blues in every note.
‘Buena Sera’ was written by Carl Sigman and Peter deRose – songwriters from the golden age of Tin Pan Alley whose hits would take a page or more to list (think, ‘All In The Game’ and ‘Deep Purple’ for starters).
In composing the song they must have imagined an audience including significant numbers of WW2 GIs who had indeed found love under the moon and stars of Naples.
Some who brought brides home must have smiled at the memory of those Mediterranean nights and some who decided to return to the sweetheart waiting at home must have smiled more ruefully as they remembered the girl they left beside the beautiful Bay of Naples.
Some signorinas you can never forget!
In 1961 as Van Morrison was setting out on his career in the clubs of Northern Ireland and Hamburg Ray Gelato was born in London.Embed from Getty Images
Ray, the son of an American Serviceman, grew up, like Van, imbibing the music of Louis Jordan and Louis Prima in the home.
He was especially fond of the Sax playing of Sam Butera and determined to follow his ‘Everybody up on the Dance Floor now!’ grandstanding Tenor style.
He has succeeded completely in that ambition.
Il tempo per un festival!
There’s a lovely sultry sway to Ray’s version and there’s no good resisting you just gonna have to cut a rug to this one!
Ray is famed for the sheer brio and energy he brings to every live performance – something I can vouch for having seen him many times myself (Paul McCartney booked him as his wedding band and I would have too if finances had allowed).
I am going to sign off Signori, Signorinas and Signoras with a version by a great favourite of The Jukebox – Mr Acker Bilk.Embed from Getty Images
Acker’s version must surely paint a smile on every face, lift every heart and buoy every spirit!
I have been known to play this one on repeat all the way from Surrey to Cornwall when the Sun has taken up its proper place in the heavens.
La primavera e qui. La primavera e qui.
I heartily recommend Ray Gelato’s ‘Wonderful’ CD which has him romping through a dozen classics of Italian Song.
If you ever see he’s playing somewhere near you don’t hesitate – go!
Of course, as you will know by now, you can never have too many Van Morrison records while Acker Bilk’s 50s and eary 60s recordings are bottled joy which ought to be medically prescribed to raise the global index of well being.