One Night in Beijing

A taste of Chinese culture in music.

Readership: All;
Author’s Note: Originally posted on January 17, 2015.
Length: 1,550 words
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Occasion

The first day of the Chinese New Year holiday is today (2021 February 12)!!!

In case anyone is wondering why the Chinese New Year is in February (?!?), it is because the traditional Chinese calendar is based on lunar cycles (similar to the ancient Hebrew calendar), and not the tropical year, which the western Gregorian calendar is currently modeled on. There is roughly a two month difference between the two because around 713 BC, King Numa Pompilius added January and February and placed them at the beginning of the year. The first six months were also renamed after Roman gods. Later in 46 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the calendar and revised the seventh and eighth months (July and August) to be named after himself and his adoptive son who became the first Emperor. The modern Gregorian calendar is an evolution of the Julian calendar.

In fact, the Latin roots bear out this difference. “Sept” in September (which is the ninth month) means 7, “oct” in October means 8, “nov” in November means 9, and “dec” in December means 10. When you do the simple math based on this, you quickly find that March should be the first month of the year, and indeed it was, more than a millennium ago. The ancient calendar of Romulus started at the month of March.

In comparison, there are still a few cultures throughout the world that associate the start of the new year with spring, technically the equinox (normally March 21). Easter originated from the Babylonian celebration of the new year.

So it was the Romans who messed up the western Calendar. The Chinese have it right.

A Cultural Exploration in Music

In keeping with the occasion, I thought I would break away from the “China bad” narrative and give the readers a little taste of “Taiwan good”.

This is an old hit that has become a classic!

One Night in Beijing (北京一夜) is a masterful work of fine art.

The modern version, presented in the video below, is from the Taiwanese artist, Shin (信 meaning ‘Trust’). This artist combines the traditional Chinese formal theatrical style of singing with a modern, western rock anthem structure.

About the Artistry

The Taiwanese artist, Shin, has, with this song, almost single-handedly revived the traditional Chinese formal theatrical style of singing that has fallen out of popularity since the World War Two era and has nearly disappeared.

Westerners will quickly recognize the iconic style of singing as sounding reminiscent of Bruce Lee’s ‘cat call’.  To be honest, I never appreciated this style of singing until I learned that it is an artful expression of ‘repressed rage’, an emotion rarely encountered in the west. But after coming to understanding the emotional significance of the expression, I very much enjoy such performances now.

Listeners will also hear bits of an emotion westerners might call, ‘impertinent sarcasm’ thrown into some of the lyrics. Westerners consider this emotion to be rude and annoying, so the full significance of this emotion, conveyed in the song as sincere, yet mocking, is lost on foreign ears.

Chinese classical instrumentation also appears, including the er-hu, an ancient two-stringed instrument played with a bow, and the ‘flying gong’ (also called an ‘opera gong’, ‘hand gong’, or ‘bending gong’) which has the curiously rising intonation that creates a glissando effect.

A previous release from Bobby Chen (陳昇) and Liu Chia-Hui (劉佳慧) came out in 1992. Liu Chia-Hui’s delicate soprano voice captures the fascinating and heart-gripping hope of longing, which was an emotion highly valued in the Chinese arts and entertainment in bygone times.

About the Poetry

Keeping in step with Red Pill lore, the overriding theme of the song concerns the immutable strength of sexual bonding. There is a reference in the song to an old lady who waits decades for her man to return home. Her continual pining after so many years is a moving testament to the Alpha Widow syndrome.

The details captured in the lyrics suggest that the song is several decades old, perhaps even predating World War 2. There are many literary twists with double meanings in the lyrics. For example, one of the words, 花 (huā), literally means ‘flower’ or ‘embroidery’, but it is used as a euphemism for ‘spend’, and as a metaphor for ‘lady’. Now, imagine how several words laced throughout the song, each having multiple meanings, could produce a panoply of puns, metaphors, and alternate narratives within the same verse! For this reason, some Chinese poetry makes the brilliant prose of Shakespeare seem like a school boy’s blathering by comparison! Even native Chinese speakers can’t understand some of it, which is largely why the song is suspected to have originated in a bygone era.

A Taiwanese mother with her two daughters. Can you tell who the mother is?

English Translation

Here is an English translation that will help western listeners appreciate the art in fuller detail.

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING

Don’t wish to ask where you have been
Don’t wish to wonder if you are ever returning
I’m thinking of your heart, I’m thinking of your face
I’m thinking of your embrace – I won’t let go, I just won’t

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING
I leave behind much love
Whether you loved or not
It’s all the dust of history

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING
I leave behind much love
I fear to ask the way at midnight
Lest I walk into in the valley of flowers

People say in the valley of flowers an old lover sits and sews embroidered shoes
The old woman with a kind face awaits her beloved departed one

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING
Please don’t drink too much
Whether you loved or not
It’s all the dust of history

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING
I leave behind much love
The men of wine and songs
They are the northern wolf clan

People say the northern wolf clan, when the cold wind blows, stands beyond the city gates
Wearing rusted armour, calling for the gates to open, their eyes are full of tears.

I have waited one thousand years why won’t the city gates open?
I have waited one thousand years why hasn’t my beloved returned?

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING
I leave behind much love
I fear to ask the way at midnight
Lest I’m touched by the ghosts of sadness

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING
I leave behind much love
I fear to ask the way at midnight
Lest I walk into the Gates of Earthly Peace

People say within the Gates of Earthly Peace an old woman waits and dreams
The old woman with a kind face awaits her beloved departed one

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING
Please don’t drink too much
At the Gates of Earthly Peace,
Nobody will remain untouched

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING
You leave behind much love
Don’t be asking the way at midnight
Less you’re touched by the ghosts of sadness

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING
Don’t wish to ask where you have been
Don’t wish wonder if you are ever returning
I think of your heart, I think of your face
I think of your embrace, I won’t let go, I just won’t

ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING
You leave behind much love
Don’t be asking the way at midnight
Lest you be touched by the ghosts of sadness

Original Chinese Version

ONE NIGHT IN 北京 我留下許多情
不管你愛與不愛 都是歷史的塵埃

ONE NIGHT IN 北京 我留下許多情
不敢在午夜問路 怕走到了百花深處

人說百花的深處 住着老情人 縫着繡花鞋
面容安詳的老人 依舊等着那出征的歸人

ONE NIGHT IN 北京 你可別喝太多酒
不管你愛與不愛 都是歷史的塵埃

ONE NIGHT IN 北京 我留下許多情
把酒高歌的男兒 是北方的狼族

人說北方的狼族 會在寒風起 站在城門外
穿着腐銹的鐵衣 呼喚城門開 眼中含着淚

嗚……我已等待千年 為何城門還不開
嗚……我已等待了千年 為何良人不回來

ONE NIGHT IN 北京 我留下許多情
不敢在午夜問路 怕觸動了傷心的魂

ONE NIGHT IN 北京 我留下許多情
不敢在午夜問路 怕走到了地安門

不想再問你 你到底在何方
不想再思量 你能否歸來麽
想着你的心 想着你的臉
想捧在胸口 能不放就不放

ONE NIGHT IN 北京

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About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Authenticity, China, Cultural Differences, Enduring Suffering, Love, Music, Taiwan, The Power of God. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to One Night in Beijing

  1. Lexet Blog says:

    China has three things on the west: a border wall that worked, a calendar that makes sense, and general tso’s chicken.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ed Hurst says:

    Yes, the European calendar used to begin in March, which is so named because that was typically the earliest part of the year when military formations could be moved to battle. The year begins with war.

    Like

    • redpillboomer says:

      Makes sense. I wonder if there is any correlation with the US Constitution originally having the inauguration of a new President on March 4th instead of Jan 20th?

      Like

  3. Scott says:

    I like the Murray Head version better.

    Oh wait. Totally different song.

    Liked by 1 person

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