Lucio Battisti: Call them if you want photos

This article was published in issue 21, June 2, 2010, and we’re republishing it today to trace the changes that Vanity has led over the past 20 years. Here are all the articles we republish.

Thinking about it now, with video telephone Lady Gaga has been seen more than the song has been bought (oops, downloaded), it seems that we are talking about prehistoric things. But there was a time when singers sang, went on television dressed as they were, and used them for record covers.
any photo is good. Then Cesare Monti arrived and everything changed. An accidental photographer (“In the army, aeronautics, it was a way to hide: then I learned to print by reading specialized newspapers”), an accidental friend of Lucio Battisti, together with him and other artists he “invented” record covers. and in a certain sense the idea that the singer is also a character to be watched as well as listened to. Forty years after publication Emotions and on the eve of the exhibition Lucio e gli altri, Cesare Monti describes his Battisti this way.

How did you meet?
“My brother, Pietruchio Montalbetti, was the leader of Dik Dik and met Lucio through music: they were friends, always playing at home. And so for me, Battisti also became a kind of older brother, at that age when older brothers annoy you.
They kept explaining to me how life worked, and even then I wasn’t one to explain anything to me, and we ended up arguing. I remember one day I was waiting for a bus and he drove by in his new convertible. He wanted to give me a ride and I told him that I would never get into that “fucking imperialist crap car.” We argued a lot about the value of money. Lucio was very pragmatic.”

You argued but worked together.
“In the early seventies, the idea of ​​singers and songwriters—singers who have something to say—was born, and with this idea of ​​making them visible characters, with a recognizable image. The goal was to beat the competition of foreign music, defeating children who preferred one record over another, also due to the cover. We needed a cover that would match the content of the records.”

How did you look for this consistency?
“I heard music. I listened to the songs before Mughal fell into their hands.”

What was the relationship between Battisti and the camera?

“He loved her very much, but not in the sense of photographing: he loved her as a photographer. He was carried away by his passions, and then became a specialist: he was a carpenter, a plumber. He was a photographer and that’s why he made me angry. He went into the dark room with me and bought some printing paper. However, as a photographic subject he was very good: proof of this is the photograph of him in the mud (for the cover of Lucio Battisti, drums, double bass, etc., editor’s note). I made him do something like…
I have 400 jumps. “He said, ‘I’m fit,’ but the next day he had a fever.”

Did he like himself in the photographs?
“He didn’t care.”

Wasn’t he vain?
“He dressed wildly.”

Best photo?
“Eye of Battisti. Simplicity and strength together. He had balls. There were no camouflage minds. It was taken off, not put on. He, Vasco, The Rolling Stones: they are like that, in photographs and outside. He played because he loved to play, not to appear, not a success, not a side dish. He suffered greatly from notoriety and was followed everywhere by photographers. They said he was grumpy, but I think he was just bored. He didn’t even understand the fans who asked him for an autograph, he said: “What’s the point?” He understood that they loved his music, but not because they necessarily loved him too. When asked if he was Lucio Battisti, he always answered “no”.

Hasn’t success changed him?
“Zero. He was incredibly artistically generous. He listened and ‘corrected’ other people’s songs without asking for anything in return.”

Hasn’t even money changed him?
“There is a legend that he is stingy. I believe he knew the value of money because he had a very tiring life. Only at first did he allow himself some luxury, but this was a kind of revenge on his father, who did not believe that he could make a living as an artist. He was a farmer so he could have “that.” The land was important.”

Was Battisti right?
“To me he was at best a socialist: he read the newspapers, but he didn’t care about politics. The fact is that in those years everything was a political act, singing or not doing certain things was perceived as a position, youth looked for answers in songs, and covers were flags. Battisti sang about love and it was read as non-committal and was poorly received. He created progressive but popular music. Should culture always be an elitist choice?

What do you think of when you think of Battisti?
“That he managed to get my father to talk. I don’t even remember my father’s voice, but when he was there at dinner, they talked a lot. And he loved my mother’s cooking: the only one in the world, because she really cooked like crap.”

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