We’ll miss him, the old pasta eater and World Cup warbler. What a voice, eh? Hadn’t heard from him for a long while. Knew, of course, that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer, but still his death took me unawares, like. He’ll be missed, that’s for sure. Funny he never got an MTV Award for that football song. Remember how touched to the core we were when he hit that high note going ‘vincèèèèèèèèrrrrrrrooooooooooooooooo!’? Went right through me, that did. Brought tears to my eyes. Didn’t do the England team much good in the end, never made it to the final. But there was no harm in believing, was there? What a voice! Remember when he sang with these two other geezers at that aqueduct in Rome? If that had been the X Factor he would have won hands down, I kid you not. No bloody contest, mate. What a voice!
I got the CD at home, you know. Went to HMV and I said ‘have you got that Pavarotti thing what’s been on the telly every time England played in the World Cup in Italy?’ The guy went away and when he came back he put this box of stuff on the counter. ‘ What’s this then?’ I said. ‘That’s Turandot’, the bloke came back, ‘It’s an opera by Puccini. Nessun Dorma is in Act 3. That’ll be CD number two.’ You could’ve knocked me down with a feather. ’Opera? I don’t want no bleedin’ opera, mate’, I said, ‘what do you you take me for, some bleedin’ dried up old poofy git? I want big fat Pavarotti singing that World Cup song and that’s all I want.’ ‘Sorry, Sir’, the guy said, ‘they don’t do CD singles of classical music. I could perhaps find Pavarotti’s Greatest Hits for you, if you have a minute. It’s sure to be on there.’ So he came back with some album with Pav dressed as a clown on the cover. Bit over the top, I thought, but I bought it anyway.
Got twelve numbers on it, this album and I’ll tell you: there’s not much there that would inspire Michael Owen in front of goal. Nessun Dorma is number 9 on the disc and that’s great, but the rest is absolute rubbish. I speak a bit of Italian, you know: ‘bella, bella’ and ‘waiter, due cerveza’, just enough to get around. But these song titles I couldn’t make out at all. ‘Che Gelida Manina’ ……now what the hell does that mean? And here: ‘Recitar…..Vesti la Giubba’ …sounds like something on the bleedin’ menu at Pizza Hut, don’t it? Still, that one song is worth the price of the whole CD. Every time I hear it I can still see Beckham stick it to the Ecuadorians and Rooney kick that Portuguese cheat in the goolies. Brilliant! Got sent off for that, but still. Nobody messes with Engeland, right?
Problem was, I couldn’t understand the words. Makes it difficult to sing along in the stands. So I went on the Internet and googled a bit. Bleedin’ letdown that was. It’s all about nobody going to sleep until someone guesses this guy’s name and how he is sure that he’s going to be victorious in the morning. Yeah, right. But guess what: I also found out that there’s a whole bunch of geezers who’ve made cover versions of the same number. A bloke called Giuseppe di Stefano (didn’t he once play for Real Madrid?), another called Franco Corelli; there’s a Mario del Monaco, a Franco Bonisolli, Jose Carreras, Eugenio Fernandi, Placido Domingo, Jose Cura, you name it. The list goes on. But I always say: you can’t beat the original. In the same way that Robbie Williams’ version of Mack the Knife will never come close to Bobby Darin’s there’s only one Nessun Dorma that can get Wembley Stadium going and that’s the one by the Big Man. Bit of a one hit wonder, Pavarotti, but jeez! What a voice!