Music Monday: Don’t be afraid

Up springs the wind, down pours the rain,
Buckwheats getting brown, leaves turning grey.
Here spring fades away, there summer is on the way.
Restless in mind, twirling in time, over the turbulent years.
Don’t panic, don’t be afraid,
of the bitter cold, or of the sunburt days,
of the distress and misery, or of the sowrrow and pain.
Don’t panic, don’t be afraid.

Made popular by Jikejunyi,  this soulful Yi song is written by singer-songwriter Mo Xizishi 莫西子诗 . It was first sung by a Yi band here. You can also listen to versions by composer/writer Mo Xizishi as well as Zhou Shen and  M.I.C.’s Steelo Zhao, who says he wants to write more songs incorporating his heritage using Yi.  Steelo, man, you gotta focus. I’m still clamoring for those Peking opera rap songs that you never wrote.

I found this translation on YouTube and couldn’t figure out who it’s by, but it’s better than anything I could come up with.  Which version is your favorite?

(more…)

Lyrics Translation: Hua Mulan selection

Brother Liu, you speak without reason
How can one say women enjoy leisure without labor?
Men fight on the borders,
while women spin and weave at home.

Lyrics translation for one of my favorite pieces of Chinese opera, a selection from Yu Opera Hua Mulan. The piece is a rare take on Mulan that points out the strength of women lie not just in their ability to succeed in traditionally male-dominated fields, but also in the often over-looked importances of traditionally female occupations. Plus, it’s easily one of the most catchy opera pieces.

Performance of the selection by Peng Liyuan:

(more…)

Lyric translation: Visiting the Qingshui River

Remember how the post on Chinese names mentioned most people use their ming as their first name? Guo Degang’s students are some of the last exceptions in entertainment.  Everyone who studies under Guo Degang receives a zi when they’re deemed worthy. Zhang Yunlei’s Yunlei and his partner Yang Jiulang’s Jiulang are both zi.

A criticism of opium addiction and the oppressive social order during the late Qing dynasty, Beijing folk ballad  Visiting the Qingshui River 探清水河 tells the tragedy of a pair of star-crossed lovers.

If the song sounds familiar, it might be because it uses the same tune as Qinhuai River of film The Flowers of War.

Zhang Yunlei singing his popular abridged guitar version with fans:

(more…)

English translations of Rocket Girls’ Light

When I turn back to look at myself,
That light was “me” all along

The lyrics by Wu Tsing-Fong of Sodagreen for Rocket Girls’ third single Light (second from their EP) is heartfelt and shines with his unique combination of childhood wonder and  empowerment, and the arrangement of the girls’ voices is stunning  Someone said it reminded them of classic SHE songs and that’s how I feel.

Translation Tuesday: Cry Me A Sad River Pt. 2

4997e7f3gy1fiezb0voioj22dc1kwb2h
In just a hour, her father told her, “don’t come to look for me again.”
Her mother told her, ” After you die, don’t come looking for me.”
Yi Yao patted her stomach and asked, “are you stupid? why did you come looking for me?”

Part 2 of translations of selected parts of Cry Me a Sad River 悲伤逆流成河 by Guo Jingming. Part 1 here.  Both translations were done like five years ago, so don’t judge, but feel free to comment on errors.

 

(more…)

[Lyrics] Leaf – Yu Quan

What color is love
if sadness is blue ?
What color is joy
if depression is gray?
What color is the sky
if the oceans are blue?
I say the sky is also blue
because they fell  in love

Yu Quan’s Leaf 叶子 has one of their most simple yet beautiful lyrics. The lyrics were written by member Hu Haiquan for a friend who cannot see. Li Yifeng also covered it with a different monologue while he was under Hu Haiquan’s company.

The MV’s kind of boring, but here’s Yu Quan singing it live with the X-Fire boys:

(more…)

[Lyrics] Among the Peach Blossoms

I use the mountains as my canvas,
I control the waterfalls with my paintbrush,
From up to downstream,
the stream carries my flow
So dope it makes the world jealous

The imagery painted in  Among the Peach Blossoms 桃之夭夭 are some of the best so far out of the often rambling Zhao Yongxin. Complete with a rap in literary Chinese, lines sung in the style of Yi folk songs, zhongguofeng-arrangement,  and weird English lyrics,  the song is like a huge smorgasbord  of Zhao Yongxin’s mind.

The song  was inspired by a late-night literary talk show that Zhao Yongxin watched that used the title of the song, 桃之夭夭. He loved the imagery of the word, and so  a few days later,  he called up  buddy  Zhang Jinghao (Yaoband)  and they wrote it in one night. To be honest, Zhang Jinghao probably wrote that best verse since it sounds like his style.

 

See that waterlily emerging out of the water,
Who can resist but fall in love with its reflections in the pond.
The rainbow among the rose-blush* skies,
Can also know the flames of a mortal life*,
Crazy like me.

 

How long must I wait
After the clouds gather and the rain falls, *
After the winds blow and the snow falls, *
Who will lose guard,*

When tomorrow’s moon comes,
Who will share a drink with me.
I pick up my paintbrush, ready to compose,
The ink drops from the paintbrush
The tear drops from the heart-broken man.

 

Among the peach blossoms*
Sailing with the flow
Among the quaint landscapes,
South of the clouds *
I use the mountains as my canvas,
I control the waterfalls with my paintbrush,
From upstream to downstream,
the stream carries my flow
So dope it makes the world jealous *

*cool literary Chinese  rap here*
*too hard to translate *

QED: With you by my side, I can block out the entire world.
I’m a well-endowed man.
I’m rich man, the wise will know.
Excite me more,
Stimulate me more
What time is it?
I don’t care.*!*

* 胭脂 is rouge used as blush/lip cream in ancient China. Can be used to refer to feminine beauty.
*人间烟火 Literally the foods of mortals (as opposed to immortals who are too good for mortal food).
*翻云覆雨 comes from a poem by Du Fu complaining about how  some people’s attitude to relationships are as unpredictable as the weather
*风花雪月 – originally  used to describe vacuous poetry describing the scenery, it was later  used to describe decadent lifestyles and romances. Historically used with a negative connotation, the term has been used positively in recent years.
*翻云覆雨之后风花雪月失守 Knowing M.I.C., I’m going to guess this line is a fancy metaphor for either stormy sex, a relationship where one side got tricked into sleeping with the other one, or both.
*明月几时有 comes from a poem by Su Shi that asks when was the bright moon first created? The poem compare the waning and waxing of the moon to the uniting and separation of people on Earth. I translated it using a very literal take  to make sense of it with the next line.
*桃之夭夭 is a reference to a Zhou dynasty song  in the Book of Songs that compares a bride to the rosiness of the peach blossoms
*Zhao Yongxin is from the province Yunnan, which literally translate to South of the Clouds.
*some  creative license used in translating 世人妒之

*!* As I was translating this last segment, it dawned on me that this entire song could just be about Zhao Yongxin finally getting in the pants of a woman he’s like for a long time, and all that gorgeous scenic imagery could actually just be a fancier metaphor than watering your vase in My Place.

I demand a personal apology from  Zhao Yongxin and  Zhang Jinghao for tricking me.

 

Translation Tuesday: Shu Ting’s To Oak

006dJ8tGgw1evy8gx2xszj31hc0s743n

Love –
not only loving your majestic figure,
but also the stance you firmly hold,
the earth under your feet.

To Oak 致橡树 is a classic love poem that paints love as two trees standing side-by-side, supporting each other while remaining individuals, a love that is based on a common faith and goal that is beyond the surface.    Misty Poet Shu Ting wrote the poem in response to a traditional view of  love based on idolization and self-sacrifice, in particular by the female in the relationship.

I’m going to apologize in advance appropriating feminist poetry for a pair coming out of an amazing but unfortunately misogynist production team, but this poem fits the platonic love that is Ming Lou (Jin Dong) and Ming Cheng (Wang Kai) in The Disguiser so much.  So close are their dreams that they can finish each other’s paintings of their ideal home; so deep their trust that they have had absolutely no secrets to each other even though they’ve had not a single honest conversation with anyone else in the show; so connected their souls that the main mode of communication is gazing into each other’s eyes.

To Oak
by Shu Ting
translated by idarklight

If I were to love you —
I would never be the vines of the morning glory,
borrowing your tall branches to flaunt myself
(more…)