My Earworms are Beautiful Today

These are all from the CN version of Ultimate Entertainer 全能星戰, next week is JAZZ! ! ! I can’t wait!!!!!

My Motherland – Sun Nan

Can’t get more Chinese leitmotif than this song, the melody is breathtakingly gorgeous as is, and the words moved me since I first heard it eons ago, not understanding much of the mandarin, shivers, goosebumps and all, as folk songs should.  I could do without all the rocking it out, when you have a national treasure, artist of Intangible Cultural Heritage 秦腔/QinQiang opera, 王正中老师, one of the only three living XiAn masters of the vanishing craft, that is more than enough.  He only sang one line and my jaws are dropped wanting MORE QinQiang.

Gosh like everyone else watching the CN version of Ultimate Entertainer 全能星戰, where singers headbutt for the crown one genre a week, I am a new fan of Gong Linna.  We all know she can sing and has the voice but her viral songs like TanTe are bizarre.   Her rendition of one of the best known CN popsong ever 但願人長久 made famous first by Teresa Teng then Faye Wong is so gutsy for the rock and roll theme of that night but I LOVE it after some thought (not the arrangement, guzheng really has nothing to do with RocknRoll), taking into the consideration the lyrics are taken from a poem 水調歌頭 by the famous Song poet 蘇軾/Su Shi he wrote on a midautumn festival, wallowing in a desolate time of his life (a widower, missing his beloved author brother ZiYou), downing his misery in wine and poetry:

The amazing Cnetizens have brought down her key to a tenor in QinQiang at that and DARNNN! If 蘇軾 could sing, spoke modern mandarin, and was from closer to the Loess plateau of the CN yellow earth midwest this is how it should sound!

She made her name singing ‘fusion’ folksongs,  using archaic poetry as lyrics her 小河淌水 has a personal touch:  it was a sunset amidst a forest, on a mountain in Germany, she was holding her newborn, her husband was away and she just sang this song and she got the hang of how to sing it.  Indeed.  Just that look on her husband face.  Gosh.  He visibly has a lump in his throat and has no words, and we all are rendered speechless:

I wished they have left it with just a hum of music and the drums and let her wonderful voice do it all.  小河淌水/Flowing Stream is a YunNan folksong, legend has it there was a beautiful girl from a little village along the legendary Tea Horse Road falling in love with a young traveling horseman, the night before his leave, traveling through the mountains, they betrothed by the river.  Night after night, she would sing by the river, under the bright moon, this song, hopefully the rippling water, the billowing breeze can carry her words of love to the mountains and he could hear her under the same bright moon .  Next year, when the companions of the young horseman come to town, she can not find him.  The head horseman of the troop gives her a jade bracelet, telling her young horseman has a change of heart and this is his token of guilt.  10 years passed by, and she still remains single, refusing to marry her hordes of suiters, singing by the river, the song she hopes he could hear her echoing through the mountains, the head horseman can’t bear it but tell her the truth the young horseman had died in the mountains soon after they left her village and the jade bracelet was what he meant to gift her asking for her hand.

哎~~~                         Ah~~~~~~
月亮出来亮汪汪         The moon is glistening
亮汪汪                         glistening…
想起我的阿哥在深山  I thought of my AhGe (beloved) in the deep mountains
哥像月亮天上走         Ge is like the moon, gliding in the sky
天上走                        in the sky…
哥啊哥啊哥啊             Ge~~Ge~~Ge~~
山下小河淌水            The stream runneth under the mountain.
清悠悠                        purling.
哎~~~                         Ah~~~~~~
月亮出来照半坡         The moon is dappling half the slope,
照半坡                        dappling half the slope.
望见月亮想起我阿哥  I thought of my AhGe when I see the moon.
一阵清风吹上坡         A billowing breeze is sent up the slope,
吹上坡                        up the slope.
哥啊哥啊哥啊             Ge~~Ge~~Ge~~
你可听见阿妹             Can you hear AhMei
叫阿哥                        chiming for AhGe?!

2 thoughts on “My Earworms are Beautiful Today

  1. Thanks for sharing!
    Love ur music posts as they’re always insightful and quietly thought-provoking…

    After listening to Gong Linna’s version of 但愿人长久, I still very much prefer Faye Wong’s version of the classic song. No offence but honestly I felt that she sounded like a typical C-housewife/auntie/farmer screeching at the top of her lungs. I mean I love rocknroll (Queen, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin…) but that sounded really nothing like it! You can’t do rocknroll without an electric guitar to say the least and a traditional guzheng certainly doesn’t cut it. And the song is meant to be beautiful and poetic and Faye’s haunting version does the song the very justice it deserves. I’d reckon if 苏东坡 could hear it from his grave, he would have felt even more miserable despite already being dead for thousands of years.

    1. I do vehemently agree I would prefer listening to Teresa’s and Faye’s renditions any day!

      But that said, if we are to break down what is in essence rock music, which has been at the center of a lot of political/social movements through the decades, darling of many new subgroups started by a bit of the outliners of society’s ‘hip’ youth, 苏东坡, or his earlier predecessor 李白 would be pioneers circa their time in middle kingdom. And I do acknowledge Gong’s interpretation of the poem is truer to the soul of the poem: Angst and frustration towards his own fate and how society has let someone as gifted with a fervor like him slip into a deplorable existence. Where Teresa’s and Faye’s are what our ears are conditioned and much more lovely to the ears, my dad was the one telling me about the back story of the poem and disparaging how both of their interpretations are too 靡靡之音/soft and mellow and overly romanticized,as if it’s a delicate longing, a wishful thinking upon any moon, when 苏东坡 is having an outburst of emotions, a protest on society almost that should come from the gutteral. I have never thought anyone would be ballsy enough, with those iconic classics deeply embedded in our lexicon to attempt such a feat and I bravo Gong for that. I didn’t hear her live singing on the show, I heard the edited version fr the ingenious netizens where they have tuned her singing down to a tenor and those couple flares of coarseness are spot on. I felt like 苏东坡 is quite a free spirit ahead of his time, it won’t be beyond him to appreciate a bolder, rougher version of his poem.

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