All the below music plays a special role in my book “Dancing in the Heart of the Dragon”
In my experience, music can help people to understand and appreciate each other without words. Music is a universal language; some music “speaks” more specifically the language of the heart. In my book “Dancing in the Heart of the Dragon,” I share songs that played a special role in my life in early 2005. Some, before my accident, helped my heart to be happy. Later, they all helped me to cry when I needed to. Each song has deep personal meaning, taking me back to different people and different places, all in China.
Now it is 2014. My dream for the past nine and a half years, since the serious car accident in China I was in, is to meet someone musical who feels inspired to help me write original music based on my book. The music would combine both Western and traditional Chinese instruments, a blend of East and West, so to speak. Do you know anyone who might be interested in assisting me?
Laoshu Ai Da Mi (“Mouse Loves Rice”), Yang Chen Gang
This is a puppy love kind of song that reminds me of happy days in Harbin.
Dan Yuan Ren Chang Jiu (“May All My Friends Live Forever”), by Teresa Teng (Deng Li Jun)
The moon, the beautiful moon, has been celebrated in China for millennia. The moon is yin, representing the receptivity of the feminine principle. Two Chinese friends and I were lying on the soft grass under a full moon sky at Xiamen University. (I had no idea a city as lovely as Xiamen existed in China.) As we looked up at the moon, one friend told me about this song, based upon a famous 1000 year old poem by Su Shi. The speaker in the poem is alone, far from home, perhaps in exile. He raises his wine glass to toast the moon. Then bathed in moonlight, he dances with his own shadow. Missing his family and friends, he says, “Though a thousand miles may part us, nothing can separate our hearts. This very moment we are united by sharing the beauty of this moon.” (What a tender “yin” kind of way of expressing himself.)
China is a lunar society. (Look at their calendar.) Personal relationships (most notably the family) is central to Chinese culture. Indeed, the moon is a powerful representation for family and friends. Listen to the beautiful Teresa Teng (Dènglìjūn 邓丽君) sing this evocative classic song.
The Moon Represents My Heart, Teresa Teng
This is actually the first song I ever heard sung by Teresa Teng, some calling it her signature song. I was smitten by its beauty right away. What feelings are aroused in you? Again the moon is celebrated.
Bamboo Under the Moonlight
This is a song from an ethnic minority called the Dai people in Yunnan province in South-western China. The hulusi is a woodwind instrument made from bamboo.
Ding Xiang Hua (Lilac)
A sad love song, sung by Tang Lei. Lying in a hospital bed, more heart broken than body broken, I bawled listening to this melody. I didn’t need to understand the words to know its sadness. Lilac is the name of a young girl who has died. Near her grave her favorite flower, lilacs, grow.
Mo Li Hua (“Jasmine Flower”)
This version features traditional Chinese instruments: an erhu, pipa, guzheng and dizi. This song may be familiar to you, it is so famous.
Goodbye My Love, Teresa Teng
In the video posted here, there are photos from Teresa’s life. “Goodbye My Love” is a poignant song considering the too-early death of Miss Teng. Something about her voice soothes and caresses my soul when I am sad.
Bu Liao Qing (“Love without End”), Teresa Teng
This song came from a classic Chinese movie. Only watch this if you are prepared to feel deeply moved.The maker of this YouTube video has combined Teresa’s singing and footage taken from her own funeral. Sad and very beautiful. Teresa died far too young in 1995. Her legacy will never die. To learn more about her, please read my tribute, written in commemoration of her death 19 years ago.
Xiao Cheng Gushi (“Small Town Story”), Teresa Teng
Can’t you tell I like Teresa Teng? A Taiwanese singer, she was multi-lingual, singing in Mandarin, Cantonese, English, Japanese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Indonesian.
The Friendship Song 友谊地久天长 (Yǒuyì dì jiǔ tiāncháng), aka Auld Lang Syne, by Hei Ya Zi
In Canada (for me anyway), “Auld Lang Syne” is synonymous with “ringing out the old and ringing in the new”–New Year’s Eve. In China, the melody can be heard any time of the year. Their version is called the Friendship Song. Hei Ya Zi is a group comprised of three lovely Chinese girls/women.
I can’t resist a second version of this Friendship Song. This one was filmed in 2009 at Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest.” Featured are China’s Song Zuying, Taiwan’s Jay Chou (singing and playing white piano), Spain’s Placido Domingo and China’s Lang Lang, playing with gusto the Steinway piano.
The River, Garth Brooks
The young man who pretty much saved my life, and brought me back to Canada, recommended I listen to “The River.” He said I’d understand and I did. The song helped to inspire me with hope and a sense of purpose during my recovery. In my book, I share how the lyrics reflect ancient Chinese wisdom about journeying through life, especially during the awful times.
Dance Me to the End of Love, Leonard Cohen
Every now and then in China I was, and still am, taken aback by the English songs people know and listen to. My friend Yeming surprised me one morning by playing “Dance Me the the End of Love,” sung by the inimitable Leonard Cohen himself. By the way, I love Leonard Cohen. His poetry and songs, going all the way back to his first album which included “Suzanne,” seem to have formed part of my identity as a Canadian. Anyway, I digress!
Here I have decided to be self-indulgent again. Not just one video version, but two! This first version is “a tender tribute to the love that unites a couple for a lifetime. Even when death parts
This passionate second video version is created by my YouTube Swiss friend Gloria Franchi. (Oh my, she creates incredibly beautiful videos! Check out her channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdHIttr_wv8mmX6DFyYanDA). There is the wild freedom of Arabian horses and a lady in flowing red satin. And then there is the one and only Al Pacino at his best–the tango scene from “Scent of a Woman.” Enjoy!
What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
The spirit of this Louis Armstrong classic resonates with Teresa Teng’s “Xiao Cheng Gushi,” above. Love songs about life, they both celebrate the goodness of people.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Judy Garland
This beautiful classic, which reminded me of my young Chinese friends, says that dreams can come true.
You’ve Got a Friend, James Taylor
This song also reminded me of my Chinese friends and helped me cry when I needed to.