by ANDREA SCARPA - Photo by ANDREA COLZANI
Enrico Ruggeri, 58 years old, milanese, is one of the most popular italian songwriter. For Years he has been writing books and hosting tv and radio show.
MILANESI: GOLD DUST
The Milanesi don’t exist anymore. If you go and read their family trees you’ll find a Toscano, a Calabrese, a Romano, a Veneto… Let alone those who now get married with foreigners. Therefore the Milanese is every day more like a Parisian, a Londoner or a New Yorker.
My grandfather went to Sicily to fight bandits, met a girl, fell in love with her and took her to the North. Ando so I have some Sicilian blood myself.
THE WORST IS OVER NOW
I think Milan is doing better now. The worst is over. Milan is a city that reacts. Sure, there are companies closing down, but new ideas are being born. It’s a dynamic city, even if these are unmerciful times for those who can’t carry it off right away… for who opens a restaurant and doesn’t get clients for the first three months.
I think Milan’s quid are possibilities and hospitality. Even if it’s difficult to find your way into the Milanesi’s heart… but once a Milanese becomes your friend it’s for life. Maybe in some warmer Mediterranean places everyone is friends with everyone, but if you look closer…
IN MILAN YOU CAN…
There are some jobs that you can’t NOT do in Milan. If you are a journalist, a singer, a stylist or if you are oriented towards the European market, Milan is the place to be, because of its great technical functionality.
In the city center try to manage to get around the porters’ control in order to find out what’s hidden behind the front door of some buildings of Corso Venezia and Corso Monforte. Near Porta Venezia there is a courtyard where you can spot pink flamingoes, there is a woman who has pink flamingoes…
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT THIS LAST YEAR?
I’ve had surgery with some complications, it was peritonitis… From that experience I’ve learnt the importance of respecting our own body, especially when we are no longer spring chickens. Hence it is better to banish the 5 am carbonara after a night out having had five whiskies.
THE SALAMI’S FREEDOM
I sang an historical theme song from my childhood, a way of doing something important for the child in me. Besides that, money nowadays sets you free, and since I don’t like compromises, I prefer having the money to release my album the way I want it to come out, with the cover I like, going on tour on my own terms… being able to do all of that is luxury and you need money for it.
MILAN HOTBED OF STORIES
If I hadn’t been born in Milan I would have surely written about other things. Besides ‘Il mare d’inverno’, all my other songs are the result of my interest in others. I don’t love my neighbor like I love myself, I couldn’t do that, but my neighbor is very interesting for me. Milan is a hotbed of souls, characters, facets… Therefore I would have definitely written songs, since that’s my nature, but I would have done it with a different approach and mentality.
I’ve always played it by ear, somehow delaying this amazing time that started when I was 20 years old. At the time I wondered if I was ever going to release three albums, maybe four or five, and I ended up making thirty-one. I used to wonder if I could ever manage to write a book and then I wrote seven. Watching TV I wished someday I would have maybe been offered a small part, and then I presented TV programmes.
A FILM NOW
If I must dream now I wouldn’t mind having a role in a film, but it’s just a dream… An action movie of course. I wouldn’t play the role of a kid’s father in an Italian sitcom.
I think part of human nature is believing not to have reaped the right benefits of one’s work, I think that deep down everyone feels to have deserved more, and for me it’s the same. Anyway life’s results depend on so many ingredients that wondering about it is totally useless.
THE SECRET OF SUCCESS
It took courage to always make choices against the flow, also in regards to sounds. My albums have always been a bit different from those broadcasted on the radio. Therefore success calls for courage, organization, discipline, talent if there’s any and obviously some good luck.
AND WHAT ABOUT SAN SIRO?
My blessing was being aware of two things: that I was never going to sell out a concert in San Siro and that I was never going to disappear. Meaning that my music was going to endure but that I wasn’t going to be appreciated by everyone. This awareness cheered me up because I never made too many mistakes trying to reach some impossible dream. There are also those who in an effort to get to San Siro lost everything they had. I think that’s what I understood about myself. My self evaluation was realistic. I’ve never disappeared, I’ve made many important songs but I’m not the one who plays in San Siro.
YEARS OF LEAD
The atmosphere was very heavy, it was the post Red Brigades period, the period of Ramelli, Fausto e Iaio. Ramelli was a rightwing kid who was beaten up because of an essay he wrote, Fausto an Iaio were kids who got shot to death outside the Leoncavallo club (centro sociale autogestito).
THE WORST PERIOD
Therefore Milan was a very violent, hard and hostile city. In my opinion the worst period was the late 70s, after the protests for a better world in the 1968, when terrorism started together with the P38 and the Hazet 36, the wrench used to beat people to death.
PUNCHING AND PUNK
I played so I never hit anyone and never got hit by anyone, I kept distant. Then punk came along together with trips to London and my chance to make music. Then the 80s, craxismo, ‘La Milano da bere’, the money that seemed to be enough for everybody… Then we reached a balance between everything.
In Pisapia’s team I think Maiorino did a good job for the poor as town councillor. But one thing is being a town councilor and another is being a Mayor, that in Milan is quite a challenging task. I would like our next Mayor to be someone from the governing body as opposed to someone from state politics. I wouldn’t like a big name as a Mayor because big names have mostly failed.
ME AND POLITICS
I wouldn’t take a step in politics because I write songs, I hold concerts, I write books, I host a radio programme. Today I would like politics to be in the experts’ hands… people who dedicate their life to it. Therefore I wouldn’t be able to be a politician.
In my opinion we will overcome most problems if we managed to enforce the rules to the honest immigrants’ advantage, who are the 98-99 %… I spoke with many Albanese, Chinese, Ukranians, Flipinos I know, and they are the first to wish for a society that sends those who did something wrong to prison and where there isn’t a judge who gets them out of it. That would calm tempers. Nobody would leer at Arabs in the street anymore, knowing that if they are out in the open it’s because they are good people.
A FOREIGNER SON IN LAW
I’d feel sorry for him. I think that my daughter has quite a strong character… I think It’ll happen sometime soon…
MOSQUE AND LEGALITY
It’s a matter of civilization. The fact that Catholics in a Muslim country can’t even wear a crucified Christ doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t allow people of a different religion who live here to pray. On the contrary. If we are more civilized, why shouldn’t we? Maybe it would be a good thing to consider that there are some Mosques where people pray and some others where people organize crimes. I believe that a protest of all the pacific Arabians against terrorism would be the turning point. This Arabian strategic break is what I expect.