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  • Writer's pictureMark Howitt

Songs in the Key of My Life: 12

Dolce Vita, Ryan Paris (1983)

Ten days ago we had two cats, a brother and sister, now we only have one.

Snoopy put up a brave fight for a week or so but, in the end, his heart was too big and we said goodbye to him on Thursday, it was the kindest thing to do, and this morning we laid him to rest in our garden which he loved so much. He was only ten years old, younger than me in cat years, or human years, I’m never sure how that works.

I hadn’t felt like listening to music for three or four days but last night switched on the radio just in time to hear the last 30 seconds of Dolce Vita, the 1983 Italo disco classic by Ryan Paris. A tribute to the great director Federico Fellini’s 1960 film La dolce vita starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg, a point perhaps lost amid the cigarette smoke filled discoteche of Italy in the mid-1980s.

There’s a lot to like about this song which sounds as fresh today as it did when it was first released 40 years ago. Although the lyrics were written in English, and Paris never recorded the song in his native Italian, there’s what has always sounded to me like a sweet uncorrected mistranslation, “Our love is made in the dolce vita / Nobody else than you.” The promotional video filmed in Paris (the city) is proof of the old adage that less is more: scenes of Parisians enjoying the sunshine, a couple of young women mucking about on roller skates and Paris (the singer) looking gallus in front of the Eiffel Tower, beside the Seine and - evidently to the surprise of other patrons - sitting outside a café.

Over the years the song has been remixed and re-released many times but the original 12” disco mix (all 7 minutes 33 seconds of it) is superb, requires no embellishment and still brings a smile to my face every time I listen to it. After three minutes of the meat-&-potatoes, straight up-&-down radio version, the music takes an abrupt change of direction - you can almost hear the screeching of the brakes - and, after a crazed laugh from Paris, we get 30 seconds of what sounds like a long lost upbeat Kraftwerk track. Then a repeat of the radio version. All of it. From the beginning. Again, less is more.

But most of all, from the second the Minimoog synth bassline kicks in, Dolce Vita has an infectious, sparkly, bouncy melody, over which Ryan Paris sings about enjoying what you have and living life to the full. And really, what more do you need from a song but that?

That was what I loved about Snoopy, he enjoyed himself and lived life to the full. He should have had many years left to enjoy the dolce vita. I miss him already, will never forget him and love him forever.

We're walking like in the dolce vita

This time we got it right

We're living like in the dolce vita

Gonna dream tonight

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