Song of the Week: On an Evening in Roma

by - November 11, 2010

I've never been to Rome. But after listening to Dean Martin's On An Evening in Roma I sometimes feel as if I have. 

When the Pax Plena Song of the Week, On An Evening in Roma, was released in 1959, Fidel Castro had just assumed power in Cuba, the Barbie Doll made its debut, and the Dali Lama made his initial flee from Tibet. Though the world was surely going through trying times, Dean Martin’s easy singing style helped the world forget. By the time On An Evening in Roma was released, Martin had already been on the American music scene for more than ten years. In that span, he released the much heralded That’s Amore, and the eventual No. 1 hit Memories Are Made of This.

By contrast, On An Evening in Roma never even cracked the top 50 songs on the American charts and fared even worse over seas.

But what makes the song a classic is its singer. Martin, perhaps more than any crooner of his era, masterfully uses his voice to tell a story. The music proceeds languidly, as  the faux Italian sound dictates that it should, while listeners detect a hint of mischief as Dino describes the couples of Rome wandering off. But above all, it is Martin’s warbling voice, explaining the mysterious, arbitrary role of the espresso in the grander scheme of love that makes the song ‘perfetto’. 

The song has seen a bit of a resurgence of late, appearing on soundtracks in a number of movies, some related to Rome, and others not. I suspect this is attributable to both Martin and the song’s lyrics. What Dean Martin does that other versions of the song do not is use his low-tenor voice to playfully describe the scene listeners hear – from Rome’s street lamps, to its starry skies. Dino flat makes Rome come alive.  And everyone loves a good love story, right?

In some ways, there is only so much that the written word will do to describe the ability of Dean Martin. Without further delay, please enjoy the Pax Plena song of the week, On An Evening Roma, as performed by the legendary Dean Martin. 

On An Evening In Roma Lyrics

by Dean Martin

Como e' bella ce' la luna brille e' strette
strette como e' tutta bella a passeggiare
Sotto il cielo di Roma

Down each avenue or via, street or strata
You can see 'em disappearing two by two
On an evening in Roma

Do they take 'em for espresso
Yeah, I guess so
On each lover's arm a girl I wish I knew
On an evning in Roma

Though there's grining and mandolining in sunny Italy
The beginning has just begun when the sun goes down

So please meet me in the plaza near your casa
I am only one and one is much too few
On an evening in Roma

Don't know what the country's coming to
But in Rome do as the Romans do
Will you on an evening in Roma

Como e' bella ce' la luna brille e' strette
strette como e' tutta bella a passeggiare
Sotto il cielo di Roma

Don't know what the country's coming to
But in Rome do as the Romans do
Will you on an evening in Roma

Sott'er celo de Roma
On an evening in Roma

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