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Mamma mia dammi cento lire

100 lire This popular ballad appeared in the 1850's with the title "Maledizione della madre": the story of a young girl that leaves home in search of fortune to meet with a tragical destiny. In later decades the lyrics were adapted to change it into a song of emigration.

The song tells about the migration of peasants from northern Italy especially to South America in the second half of the 19th century, the first large stage of Italian emigration. Today, when thinking of Italian immigrants, the mind turns immediately to peasants from Southern Italy traveling to North America with their red passports, but that was actually the second, much more massive stage, from the 1910's onwards.

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Mamma mia dammi cento lire
che in America voglio andar ...!
Cento lire io te le do,
ma in America no, no, no.
Mama give me one hundred lire
that to America I want to go!
A hundred lire I'll give you,
but to America no, no, no.
 
Mamma mia dammi cento lire
che in America voglio andar ...!
Cento lire e le scarpette,
ma in America no, no, no.
Cento lire e le scarpette,
ma in America no, no, no.
Mama give me one hundred lire
that to America I want to go!
A hundred lire and shoes I'll give you,
but to America no, no, no.
A hundred lire and shoes I'll give you,
but to America no, no, no.
 
I suoi fratelli alla finestra,
"mamma mia lassela andar".
Vai, vai pure o figlia ingrata
che qualcosa succederà.
Vai, vai pure o figlia ingrata
che qualcosa succederà.
Her brothers at the window,
"mama let her go".
Then go, ungrateful daughter
that something will happen.
Then go, ungrateful daughter
that something will happen.
 
Quando furono in mezzo al mare
il bastimento si sprofondò.
Pescatore che peschi i pesci
la mia figlia vai tu a pescar.
Pescatore che peschi i pesci
la mia figlia vai tu a pescar.
When they were off at sea
the ship sank.
O fisherman catching fish
go fish my daughter.
O fisherman catching fish
go fish my daughter.
 
Il mio sangue è rosso e fino,
i pesci del mare lo beveran.
La mia carne è bianca e pura
e la balena la mangerà.
La mia carne è bianca e pura
e la balena la mangierà.
My blood is red and fine
the fish of the sea will drink it.
My flesh is white and pure
The whale will eat it.
My flesh is white and pure
The whale will eat it.
 
Il consiglio della mia mamma
l'era tutta la verità.
Mentre quello dei miei fratelli
l'è stà quello che m'ha ingannà.
Mentre quello dei miei fratelli
l'è stà quello che m'ha ingannà.
The advice of my mother
was totally true.
While that of my brothers
is the one that deceived me.
While that of my brothers
is the one that deceived me.