“Listen to Your Mother” lyrics

by terebikun

Dear all, it was lovely to meet you all at the IAPMS in Hong Kong. It was by far the most awesome conference experience I’ve ever had. Thanks to everyone and especially the (transnational) organizers and local hosts.

I thought I would post the translation of the lyrics of the Jay Chou song, “Listen To Your Mother,” which I played during the wrap-up “share-your-music-history” session. The song may sound…Confucianist…to some, since it promotes studying hard, filial piety, and various typical traits associated with certain normative “Asian values.”

But for those of “us” who found both pain and outlet in playing classical piano, Jay Chou’s tender lyrics and achievement are encouraging (success is one in a million but at least he succeeded). The song also tells the common transition from the classical world to pop music/culture. Canto pop singer Jacky Cheung (張學友)’s “Kiss Goodbye” (吻別) and Chow Yun-Fat’s (周潤發) movie God of Gambling (賭神) were referenced. So Jay Chou may be revealing bits of his own personal music/pop culture history as well.

Here are the lyrics and video:

Listen To Your Mom/ Jay Chou

Hey kid you must have lots of questions

Why do I gotta study drawing and talk to the piano when other kids are reading comic books

Why do I gotta sit against the wall and memorize ABCs when other kids are playing

When I got older I began to understand

Why do I run faster and fly higher than others

Everyone is reading the comic books I drew

Everyone is singing the songs I wrote

Mommy won’t show you how hard she works

In her heart lives a warm recipe

Hold her hands when you have a moment

Hold her hands and sleepwalk together
I said I wanted a big airplane, but all I got was an old recorder

Why do I have to listen to Mom

You will understand it when you are older

Listen to your mom, don’t break her heart

Grow up fast so you can protect her

Her beautiful white hair is sprouting in happiness

Her angelic magic is growing tender in warmth

In your future, music is your game

Find your game and then fall in love

Sigh, I don’t want to point you down the wrong path

So please listen to your Mom and fall in love a little later

I know all about your future

But your mom knows better

Like your classmates, you will doodle all over your school bag

But I suggest writing “mom told me to study hard”

How ironic to hear “study hard” from me

I am telling you to study hard because I don’t want to see you defeated

Keep the sweater your mom made you

On Mother’s Day, tell her you’ve kept it all this time

Oh by the way I will see Chou Yun-Fat

So you can boast your dad of the future is the God of Gambling

I cannot find love letters that I wrote from my childhood

Don’t give it away when you are done writing them

Because you will find them on the track and field just after two days

You will start to like pop songs

Because Jackie Chung is getting ready to sing “Kiss Goodbye”

Listen to Your Mom

Don’t break her heart

Grow up fast so you can protect her

Her beautiful white hair is sprouting in happiness

Her angelic magic is growing tender in warmth


Korean indie sensation: Jang Gi-ha and Faces

by homey81


Jang Gi-ha and Faces (장기하와 얼굴들) is the most sensational among Korean pop music in 2008. Not beacuse of catch tune and dancible rhythm with good looks and powerful choreography, but becasue of heart-touching lyrics to young generation and retro-turned-into-fresh rock sound with the attitude of social looser. The music style reminds me of college rock, exactly ‘campus group sound’ in local vernacular (Korean version of New Wave?) such as Sanulim (stand for ‘Mountain Echo’) and Songolmae (stands for ‘Falcon’). If the voice of generation is different in different places,  please leave your comments after enjoying some video clips: Cheap Coffee (live), Let’s Go, the Moon is rising fully

(Joon / Sjon)

Resource: Hong Kong pop website


Again, a great web resource on Hong Kong pop music, called “Hong Kong pop style: English style”. Run by Phil Benson and Alice Chik and supported by Hong Kong Institute of Education, this website is full of resources (interviews and links among others).


Some words from those who run the website:

‘Hong Kong pop: English style’ is a project on the history of popular music performed in English by Hong Kong artists from 1960 up to today. We began the project in summer 2006 and plan produce a book by the end of 2008. For now we have this website to keep you up to date with the project and to archive digital images of pop memorabilia. If you think you can help us to preserve an important slice of Hong Kong’s history, please let us know.

Resource: Thai music website


I was informed of this interesting website, called “Montakplengthai”, about thai popular music (actually, it was a while ago, but I could (did) not open the email somehow. This website (blog), run by Peter Doolan, has a great collection of thai pop old and new, and very well maintained with good quality sound clips. You should check out and I think even some thai colleagues here might appreciate.


Here are some words from the blogger:

enchanting songs of thailand
collection of great music by thai people; ลูกทุ่ง (luk thung), ลูกกรุง (luk krung), หมอลำ (molam), various folk styles & others. most of these are taken from tapes that i found either in thailand or at home, in america. quality should be pretty good (unless stated otherwise). transliteration done using the royal thai general system of transcription. any feedback is appreciated!

History of Korean popular music through films (3): ‘Go Go 70’ and the Devils (데블스)

A film about 1970s Korean popular music was released on the early October. The title is Go Go 70.


The film was inspired, of course partly, form my book called An Archaelogy of Korean pop music 1960s/1970 (2 volumes) published in 2005. I met the director (Choi Ho 최호) and the producer of the film last year and exchanged the view about the concept of the film. Although I was not involved in film making and still don’t know what the film is about, I thought it lucky that the band (fictional) in the film was based on soul group called the Devils which had existed in the 1970s. You can see teaser and music video clip at youtube: TrailorTeaser and Music Video.

About the recorded music by the “real” band, I would like to share some mp3 files which I extracted from the LP, which is the second full length album released in 1974 (Thanks for the one who borrowed the records).  Hope you are generous about the quality of recorded sound. Many people said that most of the bands recorded one album in one or two days until the mid-1970s in South Korea.


The Devils – Theme from Shaft (inst.)

The Devils – don’t_know, don’t_know (몰라요 몰라)

The Devils – The Song of my Love (님의 노래)

About the books published about 3 years ago, one news paper article is at here . One question to myself: do I have to internationalize these kinds of local knowledges/studies?


The review about the film does not seem to be good and one comment by a female film critic was that “does the film want to enlighten decadence?.” Moreover, it is said that there are some controversies going on in South Korea about the “correct representation” of different personalities in the film. Hope I can tell you in detail later. But que sera…


Digitizing 76rpm SPs


I read an interesting article in the Wired blog and wanted to share it with you:

One Man’s Quest to Digitize and Publicize Rare Vinyl

The man named Cliff Bolling have been digitizing hundreds of 78rpm SP records into mp3 forms for the last five years, and still thousands to go. In his archiving website, you can find many interesting soundbites from the early age of electronic reproduction of music. The way different musical reproduction technologies with different epochal significance are meeting as we have seen in the cases of turntable, cassette tape, etc.

If you’re into Japanese music history, his Japanese records page is worth visiting. As I am not an expert, I have no idea how rare these Japanese records are (considering Japanese archiving culture, they might not be). But it is cool to have an access to old Japanese records from your laptop. One record with lyrics and dance moves attached looks cool! Another one I like is “Drinking Song” which sounds to me a “traditional” song and performance accompanied by simple shamisen playing.

History of Korean popular music through films (2): “Song of Hope (希望歌)”

by homey81

Let me start with my personal experience in the 1980s. If you don’t like “Marxist days” of East Asian scholars, you can skip the first and second paragraph.

In the early and mid-1980s, when I was a university student in Seoul, lots of students sang this song especially during drinking. The song title was simply “song of hope (heui-mang-ga: 希望歌).” The song delivered the feeling of despair and despair. At that time, for the students who were still thinking that they are the main subjects of the reform (or revolution!) of society but that “the enemy” (in the vocabulary at that time) was too strong to overthrow. So despair and resignation was the normal feeling in everyday life.

I will stop (self-)psychoansis. Although they talked about politics and society, university freshmen were just 18 or 19 year old and could not know what the world is about. So most of them sang songs in crummy pubs for self-consolation, with heavy drinking soju and maggeolli (rice wine). At that time, the only “recorded” version I could listen to was Hahn Daesoo’s recording in 1975 in his official second album. Put it simple, he was “Korean Bob Dylan” anmd you can sense what that means if you hear his voice. I will skip his story and come back to his music later on.

hahn_dae-soo_-_gomushinrubber_shoes1-282x300Heemanga (Song of Hope) – Hahn Dae-soo (1975)

In the 1980s, university students took it for granted the song is one of “orally inherited” Korean folksongs. Looking back, three meter rhythm and pentatonic melody line did not make them (including me) throw doubt about the origin of the song. As you might know, traditional Korean folksong was based on pentatonic melody and 3 meter.


After 1990s when students did not sing the song any more, I got to know that the melody of the song came from Japan and that Japanese also adapted British melody to Japanese lyrics. To be more exact, the melody was exported to America (US) and was transformed into a Chiristian hymn title “Garden.” I found out two scores of a song inserted in a paper which one of my Japanese friends kindly shared. I also could discover two version of the song by searching in internet: the one is American hymn version and the other is Japanese instrumental version.

Garden (American hymn version)
  The Root of White Fuji Mountain

Unfortunately I don’t know much about the detailed information. What I’ve heard is that Japanese version was created for the requiem of the high school students who were drowned in the sea in 1910. The lyricist was a female teacher who worked in the region. The song title was stabilized as “The Root of Mashiroki Fuji no-ne (White Snow in Fuji Mountain).” About the short introduction about translation and “mistranslation” of the song in Japan, please see http://duarbo.air-nifty.com/songs/2007/10/post_0c08.html (in Japanese).


The first recording version in Korea (around 1925) is more interesting at least to Korean people, including me. It shows how it was difficult for Korean singers to adjust Western scale. Their singing sounds like “ethnic music” or “world music.”  The song became one of the objects of the early recordings of “Korean folksong (minyo)” in the 1920s. One of the singers (woman) was Gisaeng (Korean Geisha) who were specialized in traditional vocal music like pansori. There were a couple of other versions of this song during 1930s, but I will skip over these points.

Hahn Dae-soo’s version was recorded in mid-1970s and it shows that the 1970s was as hard as 1930s to ordinary people as well as to students . The song actually tells that “there is no hope,” though the society was modernizing itself. Beside him, many Korea popular singers, especially who identified themselves as “folksingers,” recorded this song.

I Puungjin Sewol (his hard period) – Park Chaesun and Yi Ryusaek (1925)

There are one recent film and one TV drama which feature the song. The one is Cheongyeon (Blue Swallow, 2006) which was about the first Korean pilot in Japan and the other is Kyongsong Scandal (Scandal in colonial Seou, 2007l). In the film, the song was inserted as orchestral background music when the hero and heroine firstly knew that they were Korean (Chosun-jin). In the latter, the heroine (Han Go-eun features as Song-ju) sang the song. Please enjoy.


Song of Hope (Blue Swallow Soundtrack)  Song of Hope (Kyongsong Scandal Soundtrack)

In conclusion, it is interesting how an English melody traveled to Japan and then to Korea. This kind of “transculturation” shows that something similar to “globalization” already happened in the 1929~30s. I know we need much discussion for arguing like that. Anyway what was though to be purely “national,” was actually the product of the complicated international or transnational cultural flows. “Transnational production precedes national production.” And the song enjoyed lasting life at the receiving end of the flow.

(HJ a.k.a. Sjon)