How “Bella Ciao” Became an Anti-Trump Ballad?
LOS ANGELES, CA – September 13, 2018
On September 14, Guitarist Marc Ribot is releasing via Epitaph sister label ANTI- new protest album “Songs of Resistance 1948 – 2018”.
The eleven songs on the record are drawn from the World War II anti-Fascist Italian partisans, the U.S. civil rights movement, and Mexican protest ballads, as well as original compositions, and feature a wide range of guest vocalists, including Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Meshell Ndegeocello, Justin Vivian Bond, Fay Victor, Sam Amidon, and Ohene Cornelius.
Tom Waits has recorded for the album his version of famous Italian song “Bella Ciao” - an anti-fascist Italian folk ballad, that was revised and re-written during World War II for the Italian anti-fascist resistance fighters, and it has since become an anthem of sorts of anti - fascists. The song was also performed by Italian Anti-fascist band “Banda Basotti” and many others.
But Tom Waits’ work alongside with Jem Cohen-directed visual added new meanings to the song, pairing Waits’ vocals with footage of police and soldiers guarding barricades at anti-Trump protests. The video published on Pitchfork’s YouTube account features footage from anti-Trump inaugural demonstrations in Washington D.C. in January 2017.
“I am alarmed by Trump and the movement he’s part of,” Marc Ribot says. “I’ve spent a good chunk of my life running around the world on tour—I’m kind of an accidental internationalist—and I see that he’s not an isolated phenomenon. And if we don’t deal with what is going on, it is going to deal with us.”
“Bella Ciao” is Tom Waits’ first new song since 2016, when he recorded covers "The Soul of a Man" and "John the Revelator" for Grammy awarded compilation “God Don't Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson”.
It’s not the first Tom and Marc Ribot’s collaboration, they worked together on 1985’s “Rain Dogs” album.