Music Friday: Crooner Dean Martin Buys a Wedding Ring in 1958’s ‘Buona Sera’

February 15, 2019

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, crooner Dean Martin makes a very special purchase at a Naples, Italy, jewelry shop in the 1958 classic, “Buona Sera.”

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In the song, Martin tells the story of two lovers enjoying a moonlit evening in the picturesque Italian city on the Mediterranean Sea. Although it’s late and he must say “goodnight,” he promises to buy a ring for her early the next day.

He sings, “In the morning signorina we’ll go walking / Where the mountains help the moon come in to sight / And by the little jewelry shop we’ll stop and linger / While I buy a wedding ring for your finger / In the meantime let me tell you that I love you / Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight / Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight.”

Written by the team of Peter De Rose and Carl Sigman, “Buona Sera” — which means “good evening” in Italian — was originally made famous by Louis Prima and His Orchestra in 1956. Two years later, it would be covered by “The King of Cool” and legendary member of the “Rat Pack,” Dean Martin.

Although he was born in Steubenville, Ohio, Martin always embraced his family’s heritage. His dad was born in Italy and his mother was Italian-American. With its Italian lyrics and descriptions of Napoli (Italian for Naples), “Buona Sera” was a natural fit for his 1958 album, This Is Dean Martin.

Martin became one of the most popular entertainers of his time, churning out dozens of hit songs and appearing on the big screen with his comedy partner, Jerry Lewis. He seemed to exude effortless charisma and self assurance, but his journey to stardom was not a smooth one.

Born Dino Paul Crocetti in 1917, Martin’s first language was Italian and he didn’t start learning English until he entered school at the age of five. His lack of English skills made him a target of neighborhood bullies. He dropped out of school in 10th grade because he believed he was smarter than his teachers. The teenager made ends meet by bootlegging liquor, working in a steel mill and dealing blackjack at a speakeasy. He also became a welterweight boxer.

Martin moved to New York City, where he worked as a croupier in an illegal casino behind a tobacco shop. He called himself “Dino Martini” and started singing for local bands. He got his first big break working for the Ernie McKay Orchestra.

He would go on to record some of his generation’s most memorable tunes, including “Memories Are Made of This,” “That’s Amore,” “Everybody Loves Somebody,” “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You,” “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?” and “Volare.”

Martin passed away on Christmas Day 1995 at the age of 78. In 1996, Ohio’s Route 7 through Steubenville was rededicated as Dean Martin Boulevard.

Please check out the audio track of Martin’s cover of “Buona Sera.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Buona Sera”
Music by Peter De Rose and lyrics by Carl Sigman. Performed by Dean Martin.

Buona sera signorina buona sera
It is time to say goodnight to Napoli
Though it’s hard for us to whisper buona sera
With that old moon above the Mediterranean sea
In the morning signorina we’ll go walking
Where the mountains help the moon come in to sight
And by the little jewelry shop we’ll stop and linger
While I buy a wedding ring for your finger
In the meantime let me tell you that I love you
Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight
Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight

(Buona sera signorina buona sera)
(It is time to say goodnight to Napoli)
Though it’s hard for us to whisper buona sera
With that old moon above the Mediterranean sea

In the morning signorina we’ll go walking
Where the mountains help the moon come in to sight
And by the little jewelry shop we’ll stop and linger
While I buy a wedding ring for your finger
In the meantime let me tell you that I love you
Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight
Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight

Credit: Photo by MGM [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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