Città vuota (It's a lonely town)
(Doc Pomus-Mort Shuman-Giuseppe Cassia) – Mina, 1963This is the song that began Mina’s relationship with RiFi Records, the label that hosted some of her greatest hits between 1963 and 1967, when she started her personal label, PDU. Città vuota was released in December 1963, when Mina was still contractually bound to Italdisc for a three-track EP (as opposed to the usual two). The piece was the Italian version of It’s A Lonely Town (Lonely Without You), a song launched in 1963 by the African American Gene McDaniels (1935-2011) and written by one of the most famous American songwriting teams, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. Mina’s rendition was first-rate, thanks in part to the arrangement by Piero Gosio: if on the one hand Gosio perfectly imitated Ernie Freeman’s original score for the strings, on the other he had the felicitous idea of slowing the song down slightly, such that it gave Mina’s voice the space to interpret an incident of lost love. This portion is heartrending and lucid at the same time: the simple, unpretentious notes of an electric guitar seem to want to hold back the strings as they follow the memories in the artist’s mind. Città vuota became an immediate hit, staying in the Top Ten of 1964 and marking Mina’s return to television, following a year of ostracism from the RAI for family and personal reasons. The song would come to represent the cornerstone of all her future artistic production.