December 24, 2009
My Andrea Bocelli Story  #no 8
submitted by June Head Zaner, USA
Our First Christmas With Andrea Bocelli…
                                                   © by June Head Zaner, Dec. 24, 2009
We have grown white-headed together, Andrea Bocelli, and I…something I am certain that neither of us planned or intended.
I discovered him in l996, in the CD department of the Unclaimed Baggage store in Scottsboro, Alabama, and purchased his CD just for his image on the cover (for I had never heard him sing, had no idea that I would like his voice), this dark-haired Italian singer, wearing a red shirt and looking down with his unseeing eyes while leaning, perhaps, on a piano. In red letters running down the side of the CD, printed in the same red of his shirt, was just one word, “Romanza”.
The CD was still in its wrapper, purchased no doubt in Italy by a music lover who had lost his or her baggage in the airport…..another example of the chance we take when flying….trusting that what goes up with us will come down with us. It is not always so and the Unclaimed Baggage store in Alabama is proof that many things are lost as we humans make our way from here to there.
The enterprising couple from Dallas who established this store of lost and unclaimed baggage had quickly learned that airlines sold at auction the baggage which never found a proper owner. With a bit of garage sale know-how they developed a "store" with departments, containing everything from dog food to diamonds, priced reasonably, sometimes ridiculously. Like the debris from a shipwreck washed ashore, there are treasures to be found, but there was also an abundance of international "trash". Still, it is fascinating to see merchandise bought or carried by travelers in lands where I will never journey.
At $2.99, I came away with Andrea Bocelli in my shopping was early in December. As we returned to Nashville with our treasures I popped the CD in the car player and let Italian fill the air as we drove through tiny towns, all aglow with Christmas lights. At first I regretted that Bocelli sang all but one song in his native language.....aside from a few words of slang, about pasta mostly, we knew almost none of this most romantic of languages. But soon we fell under his spell and it did not matter what Vivo Per Lei meant in English......and that it had nothing to do with the Christmas season.
I purchased several other things that day……a sterling bracelet with religious medals on it, a “charm bracelet” from a traveling nun,  perhaps, and a silver ring I still wear, with the word “Veritas” etched deeply on its surface. Dick found a fish-eye lens for his vintage Leica camera at pennies on the dollar, a real bargain. But, as I walked out of the store I had no idea that it was the love for Andrea Bocelli's voice which would last the longest, be the strongest, and the most priceless.
All that Christmas, his music filled our house, as we trimmed the tree, as we opened presents, as we had Christmas dinner with our children around the table. They were accustomed to hearing only Bobby Darin's Christmas album play through the holidays so I'm sure that they were a bit puzzled that a sightless Italian now sang to their parents night and day......and the songs were about romance and not the music that fit the season. Well, Christmas is where you find it, and we found it in "Romanza" that year.
Over the years since then I've purchased each CD released by Bocelli (even his operas), watched every TV concert, read almost every article written about this lawyer turned he married, as his little boy was born. I do not belong to his fan club, do not have an autographed photo of him, have never heard him sing in person—but he has sung to us when we were happy and when we were lost in sadness over the passing of friends or family members.  His voice has the magical quality of healing the heart as it breaks it.
As we entered this Christmas season I was happy to see that Bocelli had FINALLY made a Christmas album and at some point over our years together he has learned to sing in flawless English. We purchased the album quickly because it promised to be a sell-out and we couldn't wait to put it into the CD player as we drove home from our shopping. Sure enough, David Foster's lovely arrangements filled the car as I looked at the album now white-haired Italian crooner, seated at a white Steinway, dressed all in white, even to his shoes.......or in a white wool turtleneck sweater against a snowy winter background, his trademark scarf around his neck, a smile on his glancing down face. He has aged well!
I do not regret the purchase of this truly seasonal album but somehow the shine is off.....there is something about hearing Bocelli sing "Jingle Bells" with The Muppets or "Blue Christmas" with Reba McEntire that is just not right. So, tonight I return to my first CD and let “Romanza” put me in the Christmas spirit as it did in '96, when we first met this mild Italian man. Never mind that Santa is missing from this album and that there are no jingling bells.....for me it will always be a Christmas album, with the dark-haired Andrea smiling in his red shirt with his arms folded, unseeing and unaware that his music is just about to set the world on fire.
Sometimes music is more important than language, and it may be true that all progress requires change..........but not all change is Peace,
June & Dick Zaner
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