He Says ~ She Says ~ Hello My Old China ! ! ! Chinese Language Music from 40’s, 50’s, 60;s and 70’s

“But Sakura ! ! ! Why I do I have to wear the ears?”

She Says:

This week we are moving in a new area for me.  We are going to share some tracks from an interesting period in Asian popular music.   I think that the Chinese are a maybe a  little like the Italians of Asia.  They tend to talk  a lot, are very funny, and are very romantic and nostalgic and this is reflected in their popular music.  The 1940 – 1980 period saw a huge change for Chinese speaking peoples.  The war and revolution in China lead to the establishment  PRC of course  but also Taiwan became an independant country and Hong Kong, as the last colony in Chinese territory grew into a wealthy centre for trade and finance for the whole of Asia.  Chinese language music was now developing in three very different environments, but some how there seems to be thread holding it together.

He Says:

China. Still, in some ways, a land of mystery to us in the West. So big, so many people. How on earth can you get your head round somewhere so vast, so different, so ancient ? We’d like to introduce you to some Chinese tunes this week. Many of them heavily “Westernised” and , therefore, somewhat easier on the ear than traditional Chinese music. Hope you enjoy them

Sakura – Feng Fei Fei  – Summer Kisses Winter tears

She Says:

Feng Fei Fei was a very popular singer from Taiwan in the 1970 decade.  She was popular in Taiwan and Hong Kong where she lived for many years after marrying a Hong Kong millionaire.  Sadly she died in January this year.  But she had a wonderful voice and really communicated her feelings in her songs.  This is one of my favourites by her,  I hope you like it! ! ! !

He Says:

Very “70s” C-pop this one. Sounding like the soundtrack to one of those Hong Kong based thriller films.It reminds me a bit of something else but I can’t place it. Love the guitar on this one.

Pairubu – Zhou Xuan –  Young Life Like a Flower

He Says:

I love this song. Totally adore it. It’s so “romantic” ( in the rather old fashioned Germanic sense) and full of yearning. Made all the more poignant when you read of her sad life. What a terrible waste.By far my favourite of the artistes who recorded , mainly for Pathe, in the 40s and 50s until the industry was shut down in 52.

She Says:

Zhou Xuan had a troubled and sad life despite huge success as a singer and artist.  She was sold at age 3 to one family and later adopted by another.  She became a professional entertainer at 12 years old in 1931.  Despite achieving great success in both China and Hong Kong she never was happy and had long periods of metal illness.  She died in a Shanghai metal asylum in 1957.  When I hear her sing this song I think you can really hear the deep sadness and longing in her voice.

Sakura – Wu YingYin – Acacia in the Moonlight From A  Thousands Miles Away

She Says:

Wu YingYin was from Shanghai and achieved great popularity in the 1950 decade.  She was denounced during the cultural revolution and her career was ended.  However, she emigrated to the USA  in 1984 and had a second career there playing to mainy ethnic Chinese audiences.  She died in Los Angeles in 2009 aged 87.  This is one of her most famous songs and her third really big hit in China.  It is a touching love song about the scent of acacia reminding a girl of her far away lover.

He Says:

Lovely ( again !). A very “Chinese” sound to this one, I feel ( unsurprisingly, perhaps). Less “Western” than some Shanghai tracks. Shanghai was the epicentre of the film and music industry. The San Francisco or Liverpool of China, I think. Somewhat racy and exciting and dangerous. Get that title ! What a romantic lot the Chinese can be sometimes !

Pairubu – Zhang Lu – Jambalaya

He Says:

What can you say ! Just fun, pure fun. As Sakura says she began her career in Shanghai but moved to Honkers after the movie industry was shut down in ’52. This must date from her H.K. time, I think. I wonder what the Chinese for “Thibodeaux” is ?

She Says:

The legend is that Zhang Lu’s  dad heard her humming in her sleep to the neighbours radio when she was a tiny kid and was overcome at how beautiful it was and that decided him to make a singing career for her ! ! !  She is from Shanghai and began her career there, but moved to Hong Kong in 1952 and it was in Hong Kong she achieved her biggest successes.  Of course this is a classic cover version of a famous western song.  This was common in the Chinese language music scene of Hong Kong at the time (and still is actually).   I can not identify the year it was released but it must be after her move to Hong Kong.  I think it is really great fun ! ! !

Sakura – Grace Chang – Jajambo

She Says:

Grace Chang was another girl born in Shanghai who moved to Hong Kong in 1949.  There she became a huge star of cinema appearing in more than 30 films between 1952 and 1964 including the classic and very successful Mambo Girl.  She also had a great career in music and released hundreds of tracks in this time.  She has a great voice and once performed with the PRC National Opera ! ! !  Sadly she stopped in 1964 when she got married.  However she did appear in two more Taiwanese films in 1998 and 2005 as a voice actor only.  She currently lives in London where she has lived happily and privately with her husband since marrying in 1964.  Maybe that elderly Chinese lady on the bus with you was once an international super star ! ! !

He Says:

Ah ! Our Gracie ! Isn’t this wonderful ?

She really gives it some welly here. Lovely to see her shake her maraccas. Warms the cockles. Ja Ja JAAAMBO !

Pairubu – Sakura  And The Quests – Stupid Cupid

He Says:

Singapore lady with Japanese name sings American song in Chinese backed by Thai band and recorded ( I think) in Hong Kong.  It fair makes your head swirl ! Western bands rarely made it out East in the 60s so local groups filled the gap , covering the hits of the day. You should hear her version of Puppet on a String. Listen to that groovy fuzz guitar. Nice !

She Says:

Sakura And The Quests were are really popular band in the 1960 decade from Singapore.   The singer is Sakura Teng from Singapore and the backing band is actually the popular Thai surf band The Quests.  Sakura Teng is still performing on TV specials and stuff in Singapore and has a successful second career as a TV Drama actress.  She made many covers of 1960’s western hits in this  Go-Go Rock style.  This is a really fun track and I enjoyed it a lot ! ! !

♪   ♫   ♥   ♪   ♫    ♪   ♫   ♥   ♪   ♫      ♪  ♫  ♥  ♪   ♫

She Says:

We hope you have enjoyed this selection of track my old china ! ! !  I think you can see the fun, romance and nostalgia that is typical of Chinese language music even today.  We had a lot of fun making the post and hope you enjoyed it also ! ! !

He Says:

So there you go. A quick tour of some older Chinese sounds. Sakura’s right, I think, you can hear the sense of fun and the romance in these songs. Too often we focus on what is different about the orient. These tunes and the sentiments show, I think, that we’re not so different. We all , deep down, want to love, live , dance , have some fun and eat bird’s nest soup.

Well, probably not the duck’s feet soup , actually. I’ll pass, If that’s O.K  with you…

♪   ♫   ♥   ♪   ♫    ♪   ♫   ♥   ♪   ♫      ♪  ♫  ♥  ♪   ♫

More ducks feet soup Mr P ? ? ?

18 thoughts on “He Says ~ She Says ~ Hello My Old China ! ! ! Chinese Language Music from 40’s, 50’s, 60;s and 70’s

  1. Thanks for putting this together, not an area of music I’m familiar with. For me the first and last tracks featured came top. Feng Fei Fei has a lovely voice and I liked the feel (very soundtrack as Pairubu said), Sakura And The Quests was really fun.

  2. Your mum has a CD of old mandarin romantic numbers and this is on it. did you know?

    I do not speak mandarin so good like you and Mao chan so I read the Hanzi for the title as Trinidad and not 1000 miles and expected some calypso number. The first time I heard it.

    Well done with the research it is not so easy to find out something about these old Chinese singers.

    • My mum ?
      Oh ! You mean Sakura’s ! Of course, silly old me.
      Thanks for popping by, hope you enjoyed the tunes.
      Song titles given by me may not be totally accurate, I have to use Google Translate sometimes and it gives “interesting” results.

    • Thanks Dad ! ! !

      Actually I had a lot of trouble with the title also and had to call mum so my mandarin is not so good either ! ! !

  3. Many thanks for this, P&S. I love these posts that take us down the musical roads less travelled. I enjoyed them all, though I would probably be happy to hear some less Westernised stuff too. Bravo! More, more…

    • Hi Glassarfemptee ! ! !

      I am really pleased you like the post ! ! !

      Next time we are making a post about our current favourites but releases from the last few months, but after that we could maybe do traditional music – I will ask Mr P ! ! !

      • Your Enka selections on RR a while back were lovely, but I see most of the youtubes have now been taken down at the request of a Japanese TV company, so a new selection of Enka would be lovely sometime…(ghe)

  4. This was very educational and interesting. Thank you for providing some perspective and a place to start with a new area of music for me. I love the artwork too!

    • I am really happy you like the post Beth ! ! !

      The characters are Faye Valentine and Spike Spiegel from the Anime series Cowboy Bebop which like 1950 america set in space and really cool.

  5. Great. I think I enjoyed everything, The Summer Kisses Winter Tears sort of reminded me of Hong Kong Phooey meets Jesus Christ Superstar (Yvonne Elliman) – but in a good way.

    I was very upset about that poor lady’s sad story. Zhou Xian was definitely my favourite.

    Thank you.

    Maki’s lady flamenco artists had sad lives too. Is music a bad career?

    • Hi SR

      Thanks for listening and commenting. Unfortunately for poor girls in Asia at that time music might have been a bad career choice, but the alternatives were often worse.

      We are so lucky to live today and in societies where even if it is no,t perfect girls and women are very much more valued and respected than before.

      Her voice is lovely, but i can not hear her without remembering her story.

      • I have Chinese relations (I’ve never met them). A second cousin one removed jumped ship in Hong Kong after WWII and made his way to China. He had a really rough time under Mao but was eventually permitted to marry and he and his wife had a daughter who is about 24 now. A UK documentary was made about his life,called The Chinese Geordie. I’d love to know what Cathi (the daughter)’s musical tastes are.

      • Oh wow ! ! ! That is amazing ! ! ! It must have been very interesting. Do you have contact with them at all?

        I have aunts and uncles and cousins in Taiwan where my mum is from but I have not visited since I was in high school. My Aunt and Uncle usually visit every two years and mum and dad visit them on the other years so they see each other once a year. I would live to go again to Taiwan, but I never seem to have the time and the money at the same time ! ! !

        I worked for my stupid job in Beijing and Shanghai for a Japanese audio visual production company at an exhibition and conference and it was really very interesting.

      • No, I am not in touch with them. I found out about them on a family history website. They live in Canton Province, David and his wife (Ah Hung) were eventually permitted to visit England, but it took a long time, because technically he was a deserter from the Royal Navy and that is a charge that carries a death sentence (commuted to life now it’s abolished) and he had to be pardoned before he could come. I was in Texas when they came anyway.

    • Is music a bad career?

      In many cases the answer has to be a resounding “yes”. Would Syd Barrett or Sid Viscious have ended up like they did if they’d been accountants, I think not.
      A musician’s life takes is full of “downtime” and booze and drugs are easy to come by by the nature of the business.
      Add in the fact that many promoters and managers are sharks and you’ve got a toxic mix in which a weak willed person may well falter.

      Even poor little Charlotte Church went off the rails !

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