Hard on the heels of the untimely death of Davy Jones, of The Monkees fame (and the man whose mid-1960s obiquity obliged David Robert Jones to become David Bowie) comes news of the equally untimely death of Lucio Dalla. If the Monkees’ hits (and their zany television show) will always remind me of my childhood, Dalla’s music will forever remind me of my first years in Italy. Dalla was from Bologna, which is where I was living and studying when Balla Balla Ballarina became a big hit (in 1980). Dalla, who started out in jazz bands, was perhaps best known for Caruso, but Balla Balla was part of the aural wallpaper of that year and an integral part of my Bolognese experience because Dalla had only recently (so we were told) quit performing in some of the osterie we frequented as students and was fêted as a good local lad who’d made good. In any case, he belonged to a rich stable of brilliant Italian singer-songwriters who had honed and polished their talents long before the big time struck.