Saturday, May 9, 2009

Missing Teresa Teng

The irreplaceable diva

Yesterday (May 8th), 14 years ago, we lost an irreplaceable diva in the Chinese music industry, Teresa Teng 邓丽君.

When I was young, my parents loved to tune in to our local Chinese radio station in Kuching, which always played oldies. That was how I got to listen to Teresa's songs at the beginning.

How should I describe her voice accurately for those who are not familiar with her, I wonder. Her voice is most comfortable to listen to among all singers in my opinion. Yes, comfortable would be a good word. Like the wind bell rang by a soft breeze on a lazy sunny evening.

For some of her songs, I would often hope that the background music could be tuned down so I could listen to her voice more.

Some of her songs, like "When Will You Return?" (何日君再來), "The Moonlight Represents my Heart" (月亮代表我的心) and "I Only Care About You" (我只在乎你) are very soft, but with a slight sense of sadness in them. Other songs like "Seeing Smoke from Chimney Again" (又见炊烟), "Honey Honey" (甜蜜蜜), and "A Small Town Story" (小城故事) are soft and with a cheerful tune. Songs like "Don't Pick the Wild Flowers Beside the Road" (路边的野花不要采), "What Say You?" (你怎么说), "A Small Wish" (一个小心愿 ) are very playful, which are songs that can make my day.

The fact is, many of her songs were actually being performed by other singers in the past, during her time, and after her death. But somehow, Teresa's version for each of those songs sound much better than the others for me. I just love her voice so much.

I remember 14 years ago, in 1995, I was still a student in Primary Five. When the news of Teresa's death came to us via the evening paper, every customer in our shop (my parents ran a grocery store back then) was talking about it, even our Dayak and Malay friends whom you would not expect to be the fans of Teresa were asking around about the news. Many of them didn't know who she was, but loved her songs anyway.

And that night, Teresa's songs were played over the radio, one after another. I just treated the night like any night before that. I didn't quite understand the mood back then. But many years later when Anita Mui (梅艳芳, another one of my favorite singers) passed away, and her songs were played over and over again the day her death was made public. There was this really dreadful gloom listening to them. By then, I was old enough to know that the feeling came from the realizing that no matter how many times their songs are replayed, we have lost great beautiful voices that cannot be replaced forever.

New generation of singers with great talent? Advancement in technology that can recreate their voices? No, they can't replace singers like Teresa Teng. Because they cannot return to us the sense of nostalgia and sweet memories we have when we were young.

There can never be a second Teresa Teng, ever.

The love for music is very subjective. I still listen to new songs and the latest pop. But those are the songs I would listen and forget. When I'm really "listening to music", only songs from Teresa Teng and many old songs are going to be on my CD Player.

How I miss the days when I could listen to her songs and looking forward to her new ones at the same time. That hope is long gone, along with many good things I left in the memory of my childhood.

"A Small Town Story" (小城故事)
Video clip from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

"Thousands of Things to Say" (千言万语)
Video clip from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

"Tuberose" (夜來香, sang in Japanese and Mandarin)
Video clip from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

"When Will You Return?" (何日君再來) Vocal
Video clip from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.


opendooruncle said...

did not know you stay up so late. You are right about this irreplaceable diva. Think her songs will still be heard in the years to come.

Anonymous said...

My father is a great fan of her and you are indeed right; she will forever be irreplacable.

Chong said...

彩云飞 is another favorite of mine

LEon said...

I am one of her fan too. My parents also love her songs. We got her cd and even LD. When I heard about the news, I was in Taiwan and I felt sad and couldn't believe it. She was in her 40s only... I still listen to many of her songs. Regardless many other modern singers sing her songs, no one can replace her original version which started it all.

She is an icon now and her music and her voice live forever.

Q said...

Wow an unexpected post, but a nice change too I'd say.

Teresa Teng was an influential singer, easily recognised in many Chinese speaking populations and in Japan too. My memories of the past is poor, but I can still recognise her songs easily. My parents and grandparents still listen to her songs now and then, and it's surely nostalgic I have to say.

It's easy to say that she is irreplaceable as a diva, especially with the current standards of the newer generation singers. I wonder when or whether we will have a new breakthrough like her again.