"Rotella's revelatory follow-up to Stolen Figs is much more than the
story of the years after the war and before the Beatles, when Italian-Americans
ruled popular music--it's an astute examination of how the Italians
integrated into America. With thorough research combined with a lyrical
writing style ("[Russ Columbo's] voice glides like a bow over
the strings"), Rotella transports readers into a vibrant, colorful
world with tours of a museum devoted to the megaselling Enrico Caruso,
complete with cans of Caruso Olive Oil ("100 percent olive oil
for Italians; a blend of 75 percent peanut and 25 percent olive oils
‘for 'mericans' ") and of onetime superstar Nick Lucas's old neighborhood
in Belleville, N.J. Folk and popular songs from Italy are deftly woven
into the larger story of how a once unwelcome ethnic group became a
vital part of American culture. In documenting the progress of Italian
integration into mainstream America, classic songs such as Frank Sinatra's "I've
Got the World on a String," Frankie Lane's "That Lucky Old
Sun," and Dean Martin's "That's Amore" create opportunities
to expand on the story of the singer, the song, and the state of the
union, resulting in a rich and reverential tapestry. Rotella's keen
eye and enthusiast's ear make for sumptuous reading and will garner
a renewed appreciation for these performers while those readers unfamiliar
with the major works of Tony Bennett or Perry Como, let alone Russ
Columbo and Julius La Rosa, will be inspired to load up their iPod."
Publisher's Weekly Starred Review
"When we think back to the days of our youth, nostalgia points us to the food, our family, and of course, the music of our heritage. Whether you remember an uplifting song about love or a heart-breaking tune about longing, classic Italian songs have no doubt secured a special place in our history.
Author Mark Rotella, in his newest book entitled Amore: The Story of Italian American Song, has captured the true essence of these works of art and has recognized their richness in what they bring to our culture. This book serves as his personal aria, dedicated to the performers who pioneered the pre- and post-war music scene and have become the figureheads in terms of Italian-American entertainment.
Rotella takes you chapter by chapter, outlining some of the most famous songs and the even more famous singers who made them popular. Amore functions as a historical text, a nostalgic playlist, and most of all, a reminder of the thread which links all of us as Italians and Italian-Americans. The Italian song was and still is a means by which people could understand one another and share a common language through music, whether the songs were sung in Italian or English.
Amore is a guide to some of the best songs which were written and performed by the likes of Enrico Caruso, Louis Prima, Frank Sinatra, Mario Lanza, Connie Francis, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, and countless others. In addition to his praise of these masterpieces and masterminds, Rotella provides the historical context in which they were written, as well as insight into the characters who were instrumental in their development and his own personal recollection of where he was at the time of their popularity.
It is inevitable that at least one song profiled in this book will trigger a memory from your lifetime, whether it is the memory of cooking with your nonna or your mother, the memory of your first love, or the memory of a trip to Italy, where you heard a particular song being played over and over again. Rotella has included a little something for everyone, and has brought both artist and song to life in this beautifully rich composition. Rotella is also the author of Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria, which was published in 2003. He is also a senior editor at Publishers Weekly, and traces his ancestral roots back to Calabria. He and his wife live in Montclair, NJ, with their two children."