“Mambo Italiano” – Rosemary Clooney (1954) and “Volare” – Dean Martin (1958)

In 2003 the UTNE Reader ran a short piece on Italian songs in American pop music. These are a few of the titles they mentioned. I’ve always been partial to “Volare,”   which means “to fly.” I usually think of the Dean Martin version, but Modugno did it first.

    • Domenico Modugno: “Volare” (1958); 
    • Dean Martin: “On an Evening in Roma” (1959), “That’s Amore” (1953)
    • Louis Prima: “Just a Gigolo/I Ain?t Got Nobody” (1956).
    • Rosemary Clooney: “Mambo Italiano” (1954). 
    • Sergio Franchi: “Funiculi, Funicula” (1962). 
    • Ray Gelato and the Giants of Jive: “Buona Sera Signorino” (1993).
    • Frank Sinatra: “Isle of Capri” (1957). 
    • Connie Francis: “Al Di La” (1962). 
    • Jay and the Americans: “Cara Mia” (1965). 

Here’s “Mambo Italiano,” a very silly song written by Bob Merrill in 1954 for the American singer Rosemary Clooney.

According to one source:

“Mambo Italiano”  is a late example of an American novelty song in a tradition started during World War II by the Italian-American jazz singer Louis Prima, in which nonsense lyrics with an Italian-American sound are used in such a way as to present a benignly stereotyped caricature of Italian-American people as likable, slightly brash, pleasure-loving folk.

And as a bonus here’s Dean Martin with “Volare.”

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