My rendition never made it to vinyl


It was a historic day when the Afrikaans musical, Hoor My Lied (Hear My Song), was shown in the town hall in Vrede in 1967.
The cinema was packed. I fell in love with the beautiful blonde nurse portrayed by Helga van Wyk. My sisters were swooning over Gé Korsten in the role of the singing surgeon, Dr David Retief.
I knew all the songs from the movie by heart. There was probably not a single household in Vrede where you would not find a copy of the soundtrack. “Hear my Song”, “So Deep is the Night”, “Bonsoir Mademoiselle”, “Green Grow the Lilacs”, and even an Afrikaans version of “English Country Garden” called “Boeretuintjie”.
And then there was Gé’s wonderful rendition of an Italian song. At the age of 12 I was sure that it came from a famous opera. It had a catchy tune and I used to belt out my own version of the lyrics at the top of my lungs. “Lestie, Lestie, la la la la laaa. Lestie, Lestie, la la la la laaa.” And then that magical part of the chorus. “Foennikoellie, foenniekoella, foennikoellie, foenniekoellaaaaa. La di da di da di da foennikoellie foenniekoella!” I had no idea what it meant, but I loved it.
“Funiculì, Funiculà” is a Neapolitan song with an interesting history. It was composed in 1880 by Luigi Denza to commemorate the opening of the first “funicular” cable car on Mount Vesuvius. The song not only became very popular, it also became notorious when the famous German composer, Richard Strauss, heard it while on a tour of Italy. He thought it was an old folk song and he incorporated it into one of his own compositions in 1886. Signore Denza filed a lawsuit and won. Strauss was forced to pay him royalties.
Over the years the song has been performed by a wide range of singers, including Mario Lanza, The Three Tenors, Connie Francis and even the psychedelic rock band, The Grateful Dead. My own unique rendition sadly never made it to vinyl. – Albé Grobbelaar