April 8, 2010


I must be getting old! Every time I say or do something, I can sometimes hear my parents voices in my head – can’t really distinguish which one, but I KNOW it’s them!

Whether it be some silly remark, or cursing at some idiot driver, or just thinking to myself (not answering, OF COURSE, that would be crazy!!), I hear something come out of my mouth that I know is not me!

I’ll be walking up the stairs at school. Kids love to walk three or four beside each other, so no one else can get through, talking and laughing, and walking as slow as molasses (see, there it is!). I’ll find myself either saying aloud or in my head, “Move it or milk it!” Most city dwelling kids, especially nowadays, would not even understand this statement. Their parents, their grandparents, and in some cases, all their relatives live in the city. How can you interpret this statement for someone that doesn’t even know what a cow LOOKS LIKE!

“Don’t stand there with your teeth in your mouth and your knees halfway up your legs…”
“Were you born in a barn?”
“Act your age, not your shoe size!”
“Turn off the computer, and get outside and get the stink off ya!”

I’m sure there are a lot more, but these are some that come to mind. I must admit, that the more I look over these statements, they sound like dad! Mom would have been a little more, um, straight-forward!

Something that kind of hit me, was (again), reading my sister’s blog. She was talking about music, and in particular, the music she listens to. Again, I could hear these voices in my head, much what my parents would have said when I was young.

She has an iPod. I have an iPhone, and it also has iPod built in. Her music is, obviously, music she listened to as a kid, and some from today. Mine on the other hand, are a lot different. A lot of the music I listened to or enjoyed as a kid, are making comebacks today. Take ABBA for instance. When I was in school, ABBA was very big. Most of friends listened to their music, and there were a lot of ABBA fans. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of going to Taipei and seeing the stage production of “Mamma Mia”. I found myself practically singing all the songs, while people around me were simply watching.

Now, I don’t know how many CHINESE songs ABBA made, but I’m sure it wasn’t a lot. In fact, I’ll be my last 100nt saying that they made NO CHINESE SONGS! What I was intrigued about was: little kids were in the audience (5 and 6 year olds); the words to the songs were all translated so the audience could understand (and if they were translated like they translate from Chinese to English, then the songs probably meant very little); people were watching like it was just a stage play; people politely applauded when the show was finished…

It made me realize that I was probably one of the very few people there who could appreciate the show. It was not at all an experience that I would have had in Canada or any other English-speaking area where this play has been performed. We would have yelled, “Encore!”, applauded, people would have been singing along, dancing in the aisles… I know! I’ve done it before [insert “Rocky Horror Picture Show”]!

I’ll bet right now my parents and the younger generations are saying, “Rocky who??”

I guess in some ways, it’s like me and “Lady Gaga”. I constantly get people looking at me like I’m from another world, when I say I don’t really like Lady Gaga. Now, you must understand that I grew up, or rather in my YOUNGER adult life, grew up with Madonna. Most of the kids I know don’t even know what a Madonna is, let alone WHO she is! I think, “OMG!”

It was the same a few months ago when Michael Jackson passed away. The world was shocked (yeah, right!) that the “King of Pop” was dead. People all over my schools, teachers and students alike, all knew this information before I did. Well, considering I don’t have a computer that has Chinese splashed all over it (my computer is in English – go figure), and I don’t listen to Chinese news on TV or read the paper. Why? Simple. I don’t understand!

But, once I did find out, I asked these students who Michael Jackson was. They were able to tell me that he was an American singer. I then asked what their favourite song was. Blank looks. They either didn’t understand the question, or it didn’t hit them that Michael Jackson did indeed, SING SONGS for a living! Either way, no one knew any of his music.

Out comes the iPhone. I also have YouTube and iTunes on my phone, as well as a couple of Michael’s songs on the iPod. I started searching and playing a few of the songs. The kids start laughing. Change songs. They couldn’t grasp that I was playing some of Michael’s MOST POPULAR songs. They didn’t know the songs, had never heard the songs, and were laughing because, as one student said, “It sounds old!” Stop the music, take out your books!

I guess in some ways, this is how I felt as a kid, listening to my parents songs. For them, it brought back memories of years gone by. For me, it was ‘old’. Kids today listen to my music, and think, ‘old’. So what do I think of today’s music? Well, for beginners, I’m in a different country. I don’t have a radio, and I don’t listen to the internet radio stations. I don’t watch music on T.V., and the ‘stuff’ I do hear, doesn’t really impress me.

A lot of the music that I do hear, and can understand, is, in my opinion, vulgar and nonsensical. To me, it is insulting, extremely repetitive, and just makes me irritated. I’ve been trying to figure out what all the ‘hoopla’ is about Lady Gaga. Okay, so I listened to Madonna, but at least some of her music had a meaning. There was a story that you could understand if not relate to. Other than a ‘dance beat’, to me Lady Gaga is trash – a Madonna wanna-be! Sorry.

Another group that is making it big here in Taiwan, and I hear it a lot, is Super Junior. They are a group from, I believe, Korea. Now, here’s the thing about this group. There are about 25 guys or so, they are all young, and admittedly, some are good looking kids. But they sing in Korean! Most of the students I teach, speak Mandarin Chinese. They are learning English. Extremely few can speak Cantonese Chinese. Fewer still, can speak Taiwanese. Even fewer than that can understand Japanese. But no one, to my knowledge yet, can understand what these songs are about. Sure, they’ve been translated into Chinese so you get ‘sing along’ on YouTube. And some have English translation for the same purpose.

But, as with any translation, especially for a song, it doesn’t work. The words are strange in English. They don’t rhyme. The phrasing and syntax is all wrong. I’ve tried! I just can’t get the hang of it. Okay, so the music itself is catchy. It makes you want to ‘get down and boogie’, so-to-speak. One of my little kindergarteners can say the sounds of the words, but she has no idea what she is saying, and I doubt by the time she is old enough to understand, Super Junior will long be disbanded.

Who do I listen to on my iPod? Here is a sampling: A-Ha, Beatles, Carpenters, Diana Ross, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Human League, INXS, Joe Cocker, Kansas, Level 42, Moody Blues, Nat King Cole, Olivia Newton-John, Phil Collins, Queen, REM, Simply Red, Tina Turner, UB 40, Van Halen, Wham, Yvonne Elliman, ZZ Top (sorry, no “X” groups!). My musical tastes are as varied as I am. I have, over my lifetime thus far, have begun to appreciate a lot more music.

Okay, so I may not understand or like Lady Gaga, but I do enjoy listening to Super Junior. I may not understand the words, but it is good music, in my opinion. I may not have been around when Nat King Cole was in his heyday, but I can appreciate his his music. And in fact, there are a few Chinese songs, when we go to KTV, that I don’t know all the words, but I do enjoy listening to: “One Night in Beijing”, “Wo ai ni, yi won nian” (I will love you for 10,000 years), “Lu guo mai yo lee” (another VERY old Chinese song, and this is all I know, but it seems to surprise people that I even know THAT much!).

Music is universal. It is the ONE thing, all of us on the planet can appreciate. We may not all agree with the genres, or understand the words, but it is definitely something that each and every one of us 6,000,000,000 people can appreciate.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “April 8, 2010

  1. Bilbet

    I thought my ears were ringing. I’ll still take Perry Como and Bing Crosby.

  2. Lori

    Your comments made me think of a song of the ’80s – 99 Luft Balloons – remember it was German but they decided to bring out an English version. I don’t think the English version resembled the German very much. I always liked the German version better even though I couldn’t understand all the words.

    Hearing that these kids don’t know who Madonna is makes me feel really old. I thought that since she is still in the news, they would know her.

    By the way, I now feel like the very last person on earth who hasn’t seen Mama Mia – thanks! lol

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