Bella Ciao

Songfacts®:

  • "Bella Ciao" is Italian for "goodbye beautiful."

    The tune is an Italian folk song that goes back as far as the late 19th century, first appearing among the rice-paddy workers of Italy's Po Valley. Rice farming is hard labor, requiring workers to stand for hours on end in knee-deep water with their backs bent over. The work was also very low paying. As would be expected for this combination of labor qualities, there was a great deal of dissent - riots and uprisings were common.

    The song evolved throughout Italian history. By 1943, the lyrics had changed to reflect resistance against Mussolini's Fascist regime and their Nazi allies. Since that time, it has become a song of general dissent in Italy and around Europe.
  • The original version included the lyrics:

    In the morning I got up
    To the paddy rice fields, I have to go
    And Between insects and mosquitoes
    A hard work I have to work


    The later version went:

    One morning I awakened
    And I found the invader

    Oh partisan carry me away
    Because I feel death approaching
  • Giovanna Daffini recorded both versions of the song on her 1975 album Amore.
  • In 2018, Marc Ribot remade the song for Songs of Resistance 1942–2018. The album has Ribot collaborating with other notable musicians. On "Bella Ciao," Tom Waits provides vocals.

    This version was released with a video by Jem Cohen portraying the Trump administration as Fascist. The Songs of Resistance album was made with the pointed intent of fueling the "resistance" against the Trump administration. Ribot said, "I knew this from the moment Donald Trump was elected: I'm not going to play downtown scene Furtwangler to any orange-comb-over dictator wannabe. No way."

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