Through the good graces of a good friend here is Il Volo’s performance from American Idol again.
He looked like a man caught in the grip of some powerful new experience, as if his emotions were being mined by a music he never knew existed.
I cannot tell you about the Italian boy-trio, IL Volo, without first telling you a story. It concerns an old Vietnam War vet and all-around country boy from Alabama who plays a little guitar, sings his simple homey songs, and has never listened to any music that I know of other than country and the old time rock n’ roll (heavy on the country). He also has a lot of good ole down home, dirt-kickin’ horse sense. He’s like a cactus in some ways, prickly on the outside, soft on the inside. In other ways he’s a voluble good ole boy, always ready with a tale to tell to anyone who will listen. He wears his blue jeans, snap-up shirts, and cowboy hat, and hangs out at the cafe with the other good ole boys when he’s not working. I doubt anybody singing in Italian has ever caught his ear or his eye except maybe to snort and look askance in passing.
I’ll never forget the day of his last visit at our house. Mike and I had recently seen these three teenage Italian boys singing as guests on American Idol. We had downloaded the video and started to play it for him – with the volume on loud. He sat leaned back on our couch with his legs splayed, hands hanging over his knees, ready to politely give it a listen. To humor us, I suppose.
When the first soaring notes of “O Sole Mio” rose from the throat of this skinny kid with sticky-up hair and big red glasses, I glanced over to see his reaction. I knew the reaction of the blonde American Idol contestant sitting to the side on the video. Her mouth was hanging open wide enough to drive a semi through. But I could never in a million years have anticipated his response. He was now on the edge of his seat, hands hard on his knees, gazing intently at the screen. When the song finished, he sat still, shaking his head. “Play it again,” he said. We played it again.
This time as the voices soared he was on his feet. He moved from one position to another to get a better hearing angle, even going into the kitchen, which is just opposite the living room television, his eyes riveted on the screen, backing up, coming forward, moving from side to side, all the time repeating like a mantra, “I’ve never heard anything like that. I’ve never heard anything like that.” He could not stand still. He looked like a man caught in the grip of some powerful new experience, as if his emotions were being mined by a music he never knew existed. We had to play it again.
That, my friend, is the effect of IL Volo, three teenage Italian boys who have taken the world by storm with voices so powerful and joy so evident, it will bring you to your feet. It can’t help but make you say, “Play it again. I’ve never heard anything like that.” But turn the volume up. Let those unprecedented voices fill the room as they have filled our hearts.
The American Idol performance is the one that was the best and haven’t found it in quite a while. I was so glad to get the update of it. The PBS performance does not have the sound quality of American Idol, though it is still rich enough to give you a fine example of what these boys can do and I love seeing them work the audience. I have a CD of them in my car and play it everywhere I go, at full volume, of course.