Pinocchio is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the 1883 children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, and has since appeared in many adaptations of that story and others. Carved by a woodcarver named Geppetto in a small Italian village, he was created as a wooden puppet, but dreamed of becoming a real boy. Pinocchio is often a term used to describe an individual who is prone to telling lies, fabricating stories and exaggerating or creating tall tales for various reasons.
Pinocchio is known for having a short nose that becomes longer when he is under stress (chapter 3), especially while telling a lie. His clothes are made of flowered paper, his shoes are made of wood and his hat is made of bread (page 16 of Collodi’s Le Avventure di Pinocchio). Despite the fact that in Italian the name Pinocchio might be a version of ‘baby pine’ (a portmanteau of pino, pine, and marmocchio, brat), in fact it means pine nut which is distinctly, probably willfully illogical as the book clearly states that the puppet was made out of cherry wood. The name actually comes from a nickname: Geppetto wryly gave the puppet the name Pinocchio as an omen of good fortune: Ho conosciuto una famiglia intera di Pinocchi […] e tutti se la passavano bene. Il più ricco di loro chiedeva l’elemosina (chapter 1) (I have known the entire Pinocchio family […] and all of them managed well. The richest begged). However the surname itself may be derived from the Italian word nocchio, meaning a gnarl or knot in wood.
Music inspired by Pinocchio and his adventures first appeared in the film version of Pinocchio in 1940, with the most notable tunes from this being “Give a Little Whistle” and “When You Wish upon a Star”. Jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter composed the tune “Pinocchio” while with the second Miles Davis Quintet; Shorter’s composition was recorded on the Miles Davis album “Nefertiti” for Columbia Records in 1968. Cursive released a song that draws heavily on a Pinocchio allegory, entitled “Driftwood: A Fairy Tale,” on The Ugly Organ in 2003. The lyrics describe a fairy bringing the boy to life, only for him to drift away. While on tour in Singapore, rapper Kanye West performed the freestyle “Pinocchio Story”, comparing himself to Pinocchio in the sense that his own life lacked depth, that he yearns for a simple, family-oriented social life instead of the pressure of fame, and thus he states ‘I just wanna be a real boy’. He also mourns the death of his mother, comparing her to Geppetto. The freestyle can be heard as a bonus track on 808s and Heartbreak. In 2009, Tech N9ne referenced the story in the chorus of his song “Pinocchiho” from his album K.O.D., in which he sings “I just want to be a normal boy”. In 2011, a popular dancing girl group in South Korea, f(x), released a song entitled “Pinocchio (Danger)” which topped charts in an instant. Electronic musician Doctor Steel also has a track labeled “Donkey Town”, which refers to the grim realities of Pleasure Island.