I grew up listening to Pino Daniele, an Italian singer-songwriter, and guitarist, whose influences covered a wide number of genres, including pop, blues, jazz, and Italian and Middle Eastern music.
He sang songs in my mother’s dialect of Neapolitan. I loved feeling included in his music, having grow up in Canada but with Neapolitan roots. Those roots connected me and my heart to this artist.
When Pino Daniele passed away recently, I thought I would learn this song to honour him, and perform it in my role as a volunteer musician in a hospital. I had no idea that performing it would bring out so much emotion for my patients.
I find that when another language or an unfamiliar song is shared it invites more active listening. I found when I performed this song that the patients were glued to my every word, each one of them so curious, and were present and with me through the whole song as if it were a familiar journey, yet unknown in so many ways.
Every time I have sung this song I find it brings us all together to our humanness and hearts. The story it tells is of aloneness, loss of a loved partner, brother, sister, parent and what remains when they are gone – something most of us can relate to one way or another. When I sing this song, my intent is that we feel we are not alone nor are we forgotten, that we are infinite and from our suffering we can grow.
Norma Palumbo is a volunteer musician at West Park Hospital in Toronto, and has completed all three levels of the Music Care Certificate Program.