mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Over Labor Day weekend I moved from a software development job at Ricoh eWriter Solutions, back to R&D at Ricoh Innovations. The preceeding Wednesday morning, as part of my weekly status report, I sent around email pointing to a farewell document, When I Go - Steve Savitzky's Farewell To EWS.

The title was a blatant excuse to embed this video of Dave Carter's When I Go, performed by Pete & Maura Kennedy on YouTube. Go watch and listen. I'll wait.

I love that song. Talk about New Song Energy -- of course I tracked down the chords, downloaded it, and learned it. I earwormed it for nearly a month.

Here are Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer performing it live. It wasn't my first whirlwind romance with a Dave Carter song -- I vividly recall practicing "Gentle Arms of Eden" on Naomi's bed, about an hour and a half before we first performed it in pubic, at Consonance 2009. Why don't I have the audio for that one up? Hmm.

Anyway, that's my Second Songs for Saturday. Enjoy.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Every once in a while a song, or a songwriter, grabs me. Call it New Song Energy. If I'm really lucky it's a new song of mine, but mostly it's somebody else.

It's not so often that it's someone whose name I can't hope to pronounce, writing in a language I don't understand. I'm damned if I know why nobody seems to have recorded English versions of Trịnh Công Sơn's songs except maybe that, judging from the translations I've seen, it's unlikely that singable translations exist. Which is a damned shame.

I was pointed at Trinh by a coworker, our lovely Vietnamese lab tech Gloria, on my last day at EWS. We had a good talk. She gave me a freshly-picked pluot to give to Colleen, and the name "Trịnh Công Sơn" written on a post-it note.

You should probably start, as I did, with this video of CÁT BỤI - Sand and Dust. (translation here)

Now listen to the lovely Hồng Nhung singing Đóa hoa vô thường - "Evanescent Bloom". There's a translation here, though not in my opinion a very good one. There's a rather different live performance here.

Sad and lovely. But maybe a little hard to hear why Joan Baez once called him the Bob Dylan of Vietnam. So try Trinh himself singing Gia Tài Của Mẹ translation: A mother's heritage.

      A thousand years of Chinese reign
      A hundred years of French domain
      Twenty years fighting brothers each day
      A mother's fate, bones left to dry
      And graves that fill a mountain high

Starting to sound a little more like Dylan? The original words, in Google's excessively literal translation (and slightly cleaned up), have even more bite:

       A thousand years of the slave ship 
       One hundred years of Western colonial invaders
       Twenty years of civil war every day 
       of her fortune a bone dry forest 
       of the mother's legacy, a mountain full of sweat 

OK. If you can handle the video, watch Hát Trên Những Xác Người - Song about the Corpses of People - sung by Khánh Ly. If not, just turn your monitor off and listen. If you don't speak Vietnamese, you can just skip the interview; the song starts at 1:16. If you do speak Vietnamese, how about helping me come up with some singable translations? There's a good, but not singable, translation in this blog post.

      This afternoon, climbing a hill, singing on top of corpses
       I have seen, I have seen
       On the road, people holding each other and running to hide

       This afternoon, climbing a hill, singing on top of corpses
       I have seen, I have seen
       In a garden, a mother holding her child's lifeless body

       A mother claps her hands and celebrates her child's corpse
       A mother claps and cheers for peace
       People clap their hands for more harmony
       People clap their hands for more miserable hardship 

It's about the Massacre at Huế. I grew up with this stuff on TV, and Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs on vinyl.

I have no idea whether this will turn into a series; we'll see. But I miss [personal profile] gridlore's Heavy Metal Sunday series. We'll see.

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