“Old Cui,” is considered the Father of Chinese Rock, with this, claimed to be the biggest hit in Chinese rock history. This mandarin language song from 1986 is considered one of the most influential tunes in modern Chinese history, for two reasons:
- because it was an advancement in rock music for the country (and broader scope is an effective alternative 80s tune anywhere), and;
- it became an anthem for protesters in 1989, at Tiananmen Square. Then, activists marched for further economic reforms, and also political reforms and freedom of the press (in other words, the kinds of liberties the Occupy Movement takes for granted).
The narrator of the song seems to be on the receiving end of a woman who believes he can do more with his life. “I want to give you my hope/I want to help make you free”: the song has also been interpreted to be for youth seeking ways to express themselves, and desiring more personal liberty to do so.
The song might just be about love, but we are free to re-interpret vague lyrics. It could become something more.
Opacity may be the only way to safely convey a political message in a totalitarian country that imprisons and executes enemies of the state.
The mixing of traditional Chinese sounds with modern pop may suggest the song is about more than romance. Significantly, Cui Jian (pronounced ‘swan jen,’ I believe) performed the song for protesters, and hid after the June 4-5 crackdown which saw (estimates really vary), a few hundred to a thousand killed by the People’s Liberation Army.
See also from this blog: A-Mei, Ting Hai