It was an astonishingly beautiful early fall afternoon on Isola Pescatori, one of several small islands set within northern Italy’s Lake Maggiore. On that day a bright, crystal clear blue sky had bloomed after heavy morning gray overcast.
After we enjoyed a casual, delicious seafood lunch al fresco at Ristorante La Pescheria, a leisurely stroll through Pescatori’s narrow, winding, cobbled passages followed.
We soon discovered The Hotel Belvedere and it’s small, inviting, covered patio overlooking Maggiore to the east. The luncheon rush crowd had passed. We asked if it was too late to sit, relax and enjoy some wine.
Of course not! Cool rose was served. A stunning view of the lake’s blue water and the distant Monte Rosa mountain range captured us. Pleasant music drifted over us as we visited, gazed and sipped.
Soon, five songs segued seamlessly; Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me”; “The Dock of the Bay”…Otis Redding’s 1968 hit; “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong; “Heart of Steel” from New Orleans sextet Galactic featuring the incomparable voice of Irma Thomas…and The Doors “Riders on the Storm” with Jim Morrison from 1971.
This was not just any music we were hearing and enjoying. It was American Music.
In the few moments which followed, those five songs by Sinatra, Redding, Armstrong, Irma Thomas and The Doors created not only a magical soundtrack for the two of us that gentle midday in distant Italy; those five songs also reminded me how much American Music is woven into the musical fabric of people’s hearts, minds and souls everywhere.
Timeless songs amplified through a simple background music sound system while we relaxed on a small patio in the middle of a northern Italian lake. Basically in the middle of nowhere.
The songs composed a perfect reflection of nearly every genre of American Music that writers and performers have been creating and contributing to the world for decades. The jazz, swing, soul, blues and rock in that particular set…in all its forms, textures, beats and rhythms…represented the heartbeat of a nation’s culture.
It’s a musical heartbeat that is loved. Everywhere.
It’s a heartbeat that transcends politics and religion; a heartbeat capable of pumping the power to unite rather than divide.
With respect paid to Louis Armstrong…what a wonderful world it would be if we could let the power and emotion of the popular music we export display what America might truly represent, rather than the bombastic America some politicians and pompous talking heads portray us to be…
…Wistful thoughts imagined one wonderful day in Italy, with help from our companions Frank, Otis, Irma, Louis and Jim…
Thank you all.
For a look at the Belvedere on Isola Pescatori: