One of the many songs I love, songs that tend to evoke (changed this from ‘invoke’ which carries meaning I did not intend) some emotional response whenever heard, is Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Time To Say Goodbye’, or ‘Con Te Partiro’ (I Will Go With You) as it was originally called. Sometimes it is more meaningful, especially in modern times (when lyrics are mostly meaningless), to not know what the song is all about. Especially when recorded in an unfamiliar language, or even a familiar one with slurred, mispronounced or indecipherable words. The ‘not knowing’ allows or concentrates the human response to focus more strongly on what the music brings (as music is intended to do), with perhaps only passing reference to the words themselves. Such is the case with this song.
The English title was a marketing ploy which brought the song its ultimate success and popularity. But the original Italian words of the lyrics, it has been claimed, do not translate well into English, becoming somewhat meaningless, as the direct translation* below seems to indicate – though no less meaningful I would suggest than many modern songs originally penned in English.
* Translated using ‘Translator’ by SailorMax – a useful and very flexible tool for Mozilla and Opera browsers (possibly others) that I use frequently as a browser extension on my desktop.
‘Time To Say Goodbye’
When I am alone
Dream on the horizon
And the words are missing
Yes I know there is no light
In a room when the sun is out
If you’re not with me, with me
On the windows
Show everyone my heart
That you turned on
Close inside me
The light that
You met on the street
Time to say goodbye
Countries that I never
Saw and shared with you
Now I will live them
I’ll go with you
On ships over seas
That I know it
No no they do not exist anymore
It’s time to say goodbye
Sarah Brightman, who masterfully joins in duet with Andrea Bocelli on versions of the song you may have heard (a fairly youthful Ms Brightman here), has her own English version which is close to the translation above, and I defy anyone to declare that performance as being meaningless. And yet… even so, the meaning remains a little obscure.
I have put together a much reduced version of the lyrics, not meant to rhyme, which I think expresses more succinctly the essence of the ideas captured by the song.
‘I Will Go With You’
I dream alone, with wordless dreams,
In the darkness, without you.
You opened the windows of my heart
Revealing the light you kindled in my darkness.
Time to say goodbye.
To the places we never shared, I’ll go with you.
Ready now to live those dreams,
Wherever they may take us.
I know this is no longer possible.
It’s time to say goodbye.
A song of regrets and missed opportunities, now unrecoverable with the passage of time. And yet that is not exactly what the music says. It speaks of rekindled hope and anticipated fulfilment. Were it not for that single line “I know this is no longer possible” or “No no they do not exist anymore”, that is the message we would be receiving. But, of course, that, as I’m sure many of us will have discovered, is not the real world in which we live. A world in which time passes and opportunities, once missed, are seldom presented again. A world in which darkness of some sort often obscures what in other light we may have readily grasped with both hands. A world in which a time inevitably arrives when, like it or not, or ready or not, forewarned or not, we have to say goodbye to the things we hold most dear. Better then to fearlessly take what opportunities come our way when first they present themselves – and not live, for however long, with regrets over not having done so.
To hope, and to chances, and to readiness to take them. And a little good music to uplift our spirits on the way – perhaps coming from a direction we may not have anticipated. Delightful.