In 1969 the book The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal changed his life forever. Today, with ten million copies sold, the 89-year-old English zoologist and ethologist Desmond Morris is experiencing something of a revival thanks to Francesco Gabbani.

The Italian representative at the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest 2017 took inspiration from Morris’ work, which will hit English libraries with its latest update soon. He quotes the title of Morris’ book in the lyrics of “Occidentali’s Karma”.

That’s not the only reference, of course. Francesco’s dancing gorilla is a clear and fanciful reference to the theories described by Morris, who makes use of the term “the naked ape” to refer to the human species, considered the most evolved version of monkeys, in this case devoid of the heavy coat of hair.

Praise for Francesco Gabbani‘s song comes from well outside the Italian borders. In fact, it also comes from Oxford, where Desmond Morris currently lives.

Antonello Guerrera, journalist at La Repubblica, contacted the ethologist and found him to be a big fan of the Sanremo 2017 winner.

“I’ve listened to his song,” he said. “It’s wonderful! Then I’ve seen the videoclip with Japanese costumes. Occidentali’s Karma is beautiful, catchy. Next May I will be in front of the tv cheering for him at the Eurovision”.

This is what we call an endorsement!

“A British journalist asked me if he had offended me,” he recounts. “What an honor instead! I’ve been studying for years the sign language in the world, and seeing what Gabbani does on stage and in the official video of the song is extraordinary since he combines and blends different cultures and quotes.”

The English scientist makes high-level comparisons: “I’ve read the lyrics and I’ve been fascinated by their beauty, culture and richness of citations. Never heard anything like this, perhaps only in Bob Dylan and John Lennon…the precision and sophistication of the lyrics is something I know because I met Lennon and we often talked about this art”.

Morris then explains what brings Gabbani near to the songwriter who co-founded The Beatles: “Lennon always recommended to avoid weasel words, empty or ambiguous ones, the clichés. Occidentali’s Karma embodies this axiom. John was a man with strengths and weaknesses and not so cultured, but he had cleverness and a natural talent with which he reached the poetic heights of Dylan Thomas“.

What about a meeting between the student and the master?

“Unfortunately, after a life around the world, I cannot travel anymore,” Morris explains. “It’s something that saddens me deeply, but I have to look after my wife Ramona who is not feeling well. You know, we got married in 1952 … maybe if Gabbani comes to England, who knows.”

In the meantime, the zoologist sent the singer a signed copy of the Italian version of his best-seller The Naked Ape, which has lept back into the book charts in Italy on IBS and Amazon in recent days.

The brilliant idea to place “the naked ape” in the lyrics is the brainchild of Fabio Ilacqua, one of the authors of the song.

The Italian lyricist — a great admirer of Morris’ studies — recently told Il Corriere della Sera, in reference to “Occidentali’s Karma”, that “we, as humans, believe we defeated Nature. But actually we are still in caves because our instincts remain the same.”

Morris applauds this definition.

“I absolutely agree. But, even if we share emotions and passions with them, there’s something that distinguishes us from the animals: creativity. Something that only humans have.”

“For this reason I’m optimistic looking at the future: we have so many problems, first of all the overpopulation of the world. But with our creativity, and technology, we will succeed. The karma of the West, and the world around, is not so bad, trust me.”

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[…] word garrulously on his verse, citing Desmond Morris’ man’s evolution from ape—he fully endorses Gabbani’s song in the contest—until Heraclitos’ everything flows’ philosophy […]

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[…] Låten ”Occidentali’s Karma” bär en humoristisk kostym men är full av budskap och tankegods. Här finns blinkningar till filosofer, men också etologen Desmond Morris. Britten har själv menat att låttexten håller Bob Dylan-klass. […]

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

This is an amazing story.
Thank you to Cristian Scarpone for writing this out. Great work.
This is, without a doubt, the best entry Italy have sent to Eurovision since their return from hiatus.

Ges
Guest
Ges

Not a hater but the songs is nonsense…

randimsagev2
Guest
randimsagev2

This could win Eurovision (based on the songs so far) 2nd Big 5 country this decade too if it does.

nkgdr
Guest
nkgdr

PL here, he’s very handsoe

(J)ESC Fanatic
Guest
(J)ESC Fanatic

Well, keep wanting, I guess. Such a thing is not going to happen.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

I agree that discussing artists’ looks is superficial, and yes, the song is the most important thing – but we can talk about both, they’re not mutually exclusive. There’s gonna be plenty of articles/comments and Francesco over the next few months, so enough space for everything….within reason, of course! Some of the comments here are moronic, true.

#SexGod

Voxtaylor
Guest
Voxtaylor

Omg, I LOVE this article! What a good read! Not that I don’t appreciate every one that comes out, but this one was just fascinating! It’s always a breath of fresh air to venture outside the Eurovision bubble to cover other things. Keep slaying, Wiwibloggs! Namaste! 😀

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

Say your opinion about whether or not someone is beautiful yes! But debate on that topic is just annoying! People don’t have the same taste!

Nitzan
Guest
Nitzan

Italy is so winning this year.

Hi
Guest

1a :Sweden (Loreen)
2a : Itsly

geek93
Guest
geek93

Marry me Francesco!

Mae
Guest
Mae

Non-Italian here. While I dislike the moustache, Francesco seems handsome to me. I can totally understand why lots of people are into him.

Olsi
Guest
Olsi

@Cristian Scarpone

Italian year!!! Will be so super wonderful to see italian flags fly so high in the final.

GABBANI sa come fare musica e non solo. Anche un stupendo testo 🙂

Vai Gabbani e vai ITALIA!!!

Michaela
Guest
Michaela

Guys, why are you talking about his face. I thought that Eurovision is about music and not about someone’s beauty. Maybe he’s not “The most attractive man in the world” but the song is just great. Sighs.

Gippa
Guest
Gippa

I think that charm has nothing to do with beauty.

And anyway guys, back on track, who cares if he’s beautiful or not? It’s not that Desmond Morris said that Francesco is the most beautiful exemplar of a naked monkey.
Are we capable to actually read the articles or are we only looking at pictures? 😉

(I’m talking about the first person who was said the gorilla thing and not at all the others who replied, otherwise I would be reprimanding myself too, maybe I am, who knows…haha)

Emmm
Guest
Emmm

Italian fans i got a question 4 u is he still in closet???

Kermit
Guest
Kermit

Comments on looks are shallow! Who cares how a singer look. The song quality is what matters!

I am happy intelletcual, deep lyrics take part in ESC. Which are petoic and good….not only some thrown together words. The lyrics in ESC get too little attention. Some of them are very good. It’s more interesting that the colour of the dresses etc

blondboybc
Guest
blondboybc

Some people on these forums need to get their eyes checked…. 😉

Henning
Guest
Henning

Only on this website could such an interesting article be ruined by the comments discussing if the singer is ugly or not

You disgust me

your name
Guest
your name

@nahsarian I find your heart inside and outside looks like monster omg so ugly. Bye

an esc fan
Guest
an esc fan

@Jr esc nl

No way?

mocosuburbian
Guest
mocosuburbian

this is the quality I want to see more of at wiwibloggs 🙂

-Helga:
Guest
-Helga:

Well , i wouldn’t call him handsome either but maybe cute with the movements he is doing during the song, but that’s it.

Griffin
Guest
Griffin

This articles doesn’t looks like coming from Wiwibloggs, i really adore this kind of news. I hope there’ll be improvement about the content on this site like this.

Anyway to Francesco’s haters, just enjoy your pathetic life on your dusty cave and shallow mind 🙂

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Nahsahrian, yes, it is just you.

The man is pure sex, with a smile that makes you go weak at the knees.

Loreen is also beautiful, both conventionally and in her own unique way.

What is wrong with you people?

Jr esc nl
Guest
Jr esc nl

@nahsarian
He’ll be Eurovisions next top male model 2017 <3 i'm calling it.

Robyn Gallagher
Guest
Robyn Gallagher

Please, let’s stop the critiques of people’s physical appearance. All Eurovision stars are beautiful in their own way.

nahsarian
Guest
nahsarian

@ Cristian Scarpone
I am surprised by hearing what you said.
He seems so much unattractive and ugly to me i cant explain. Thats very strange people on the world are differing alot in taste issue. But i wanna adk you is really people find him handsome in Italy?

Maclaren
Guest
Maclaren

Also wanted to thank Cristian for the quality piece of journalism. What a difference from the usual set of articles filled with ‘she slays’ and ‘his gym honed body’ cliches. Cristian, write more!

an esc fan
Guest
an esc fan

Loreen fans who say that Gabbani is ugly, must look at Loreen.
If they can’t look at her…I understand.

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

A wonderful article!! Congratulations @wiwibloggs!

an esc fan
Guest
an esc fan

Gabbani should go to Morris right now. Morris can’t travel, but I hope Gabbani is in the plane right now as we speak. How stupid would be to miss that opportunity.
I love nature and if humans think they are superior to animals, they should use that to protect nature and all the animals.

SECH
Guest
SECH

Even scholar agree!

Iberian
Guest
Iberian

People who say Francesco’s song is stupid have a very low IQ.

NN
Guest
NN

We all know that Sweden or Australia EBU baby will win, thanks to overrated points by juries , and decide who can colect more points wili be after they see reaction of fans and other to song from both countries. Who recive better reaction wlil win most points from juries. I think Italy wili get from juries points between from 90 to maximu 120 points and Sweden if they choose Loreen will get 300 to 350 from juries. I think fistr countries with juries wili get 300 to 350 points and second from 200 to 240 points from juries and… Read more »

nahsarian
Guest
nahsarian

Is it just me or is this Francesco ugly like a gorilla?

Lukewarm
Guest
Lukewarm

Don’t know about Desmond Morris, but I will never forget Harambe.

betty
Guest
betty

I hate that stupid song

Fbm
Guest
Fbm

Probably he will win this year, if not loreen

Sufle
Guest
Sufle

I am so proud of Francesco! The fact that the person who wrote the work that inspired his song loves it makes me happy. Team Italy all the way!

fikri
Guest
fikri

take that francesco’s haters. 🙂

Avstriya
Guest
Avstriya

OMG, what a meaningful article is that! And what a great endorsement for Francesco Gabbani. I am reading this teary-eyed, wonderful!