Desmond morris academic francesco gabbani eurovision

Back in February the famed zoologist and ethologist Desmond Morris revealed that he was a huge fan of Italy’s Francesco Gabbani and his Eurovision 2017 song “Occidentali’s Karma”.

But, owing to advancing age and his sick wife, he said that he would not be able to travel to Italy to meet this year’s Eurovision favourite.

Thankfully Francesco — who wowed audiences at the London Eurovision Party on Sunday evening — can still travel, and on Monday he took the opportunity to visit the legendary academic at this home in Oxford, England.

“Today I had the incredible privilege of meeting Desmond Morris in his home in Oxford,” he wrote on Facebook.

“Aside from the surreal circumstances, comparable maybe to grabbing a coffee with Heraclitus, I had the proof that the wisdom and the greatness of a man are directly proportional to the humility and the ability to express with simplicity very profound concepts. Thank you, Desmond.”

This most peculiar of meetings — between a world-renowned academic who studied the evolution of apes and a potential Eurovision winner who dances with one — resulted from a shared interest in Morris’ 1969 the book The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal, which has sold more than ten million copies worldwide.

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. Francesco 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.

Antonello Guerrera, journalist at La Repubblica, contacted the ethologist in February 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 recounted. “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 made 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 explained 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“.

At that time a meeting seemed unlikely.

“Unfortunately, after a life around the world, I cannot travel anymore,” Morris explained. “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.”

The zoologist sent the singer a signed copy of the Italian version of his best-seller The Naked Ape, which lept back into the book charts in Italy on IBS and Amazon after Gabbani won the Sanremo music festival with the song.

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.”

Are you pleased Francesco and Desmond got to meet? Are you touched by their encounter? Let me know below!

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John Farrow
John Farrow
3 years ago

What an excellent article. It’s a shame that Gabbani didn’t win but hopefully the song will live on anyway.

Sally-Ann Fawcett
Sally-Ann Fawcett
3 years ago

The biggest honour any Eurovision song and singer could ever have.
Desmond Morris is a hero and this meeting is just fantastic for both of them.

Angelo
Angelo
3 years ago

This is EVERYTHING

Mark
3 years ago

My top 10 from U.K is :

1 ) Romania – Yodel it Europe – amazing , great song !
2 ) Israel – Fantastic song 🙂 Masterpiece
3 ) Hungary
4 ) Sweeden
5 ) Greece
6 ) Italy
7 ) Bulgaria
8 ) Armenia
9) Russia
10) Belgium

And the winner of 2017 is ROMANIA 12 points 🙂 Good Luck Yodel it Romania !

Ranting Ruby
Ranting Ruby
3 years ago

LOVE it!

Eve
Eve
3 years ago

@Gippa – you explained this so well, now I’m intrigued to read the book 🙂

Joe
Joe
3 years ago

Francesco is special. He’ll make Italy proud, winning or not.

Visenya
Visenya
3 years ago

@ Hi
Yes yes, we know you hate the song, you hate him, you hate his fans and bla bla bla
But as I see you really like it, you are always looking for articles about Gabbani to start your pathetic hate! Ahahah so we can say that in a way Gabbani gave a sense to your stupid life!
Anyway haters = envy and scared about his victory

L'oiseau
L'oiseau
3 years ago

This a great piece. Thanks wiwi! Namasté!
I am not so sure about the dancing ape, though, in spite of its meaning.

Robyn Gallagher
Admin
3 years ago

I’m so glad they’ve met! What a treat for both of them.

Gippa
Gippa
3 years ago

@lino The book says basically that we behave in the same way other apes behave. Now it doesn’t seem so outrageous but the first time it was published it was. The book questions a lot of things about human beings and evolution, how we are the way that we are (well, there are some things that are a bit dated but a lot of things are still true). The point is not to turn back to the origin but to look at youself with this kind of aware eyes: we think we are so evolved as a species but in… Read more »

lino
lino
3 years ago

What the hell is everything about anyway
– the book says that we are apes because we are primitives? ( in the good way or in the bad way?)
– Gabbani says the same thing when he talks about modern gadgets or whatever, why?
If Gabbani owns a phone, he is hypocrite.

Hi
Hi
3 years ago

AngieP. I think its a silly Song. Thats it

fikri
fikri
3 years ago

tbh i don’t understand anything about his song or what desmond morris’ book is all about but good to know that it has somekind of meaning…

Charli Cheer Up
Charli Cheer Up
3 years ago

I hope the juries will see past the dancing ape and realise that this song has a very good meaning behind it. Its not just any novelty song.

Lisa 27
Lisa 27
3 years ago

I’m so happy for Francesco and Demond Morris that they had this opportunity of meeting each other. There you see what amazing things might happen if you “dare” to put some deeper meaning into a song. A beautiful sound containing a fascinating message – that’s the moment where music becomes a real kind of art <3

AngieP
AngieP
3 years ago

For those who think “Occidentalli’s karma” is a silly song with no meaning, just check out this article.
This song is so amazing! It delivers such a profound massage with such an enjoyable way!
I strongly believe everyone will get it the night of he final!

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
3 years ago

Talent inspired by talent. Yet another song with a meaning and a story behind it is going to win. Jamala started the #TalentOnly trend tbh, legend.

Liza K
Liza K
3 years ago

Fun and with a good message … But musically little more than vulgar.

Karen
Karen
3 years ago

How cute is Francesco. So lovely.

Grace
Grace
3 years ago

Truly amazing, these are the reasons as to why Italy needs to win this year! 🙂

ale83_webmaster
ale83_webmaster
3 years ago

A coffee with Heraclitus, not Hercules…

kjellere
kjellere
3 years ago

He wrote “Heraclitus” not “Hercules” ????????

Gippa
Gippa
3 years ago

Awwwwwwwww
It’s so sweet this encounter. How cool are they?

Antonio84
Antonio84
3 years ago

And still there’s someone who think that this song is meaningless, worthless, elementary. The deepest lyrics in esc 2017

Hi
Hi
3 years ago

Its only Italy in ESC this year.

Gippa
Gippa
3 years ago

Lee Adams:
He wrote Heraclitus not Hercules. Hahaha
(Heraclitus was the “Pantha Rei” Greek philosopher) 😉