Music Series: Cui Jian – A Piece of Red Cloth

“I performed at Tiananmen Square in 1989, 15 days before the crackdown. I sang A Piece of Red Cloth (一块红布), a tune about alienation. I covered my eyes with a red cloth to symbolize my feelings. The students were heroes. They needed me, and I needed them. After Tiananmen, however, authorities banned concerts. We performed instead at “parties,” unofficial shows in hotels and restaurants”. [Cui Jian’s words, link here]

A Piece of Red Cloth is one of the most classic songs of Cui Jian‘s. It sounds like a love story but actually it portrays the special time of chaos and the beliefs of the youth. [Lyrics inside]


A Piece of Red Cloth

That day you used a piece of red cloth
to blindfold my eyes and cover up the sky
You asked me what I had seen
I said I saw happiness

This feeling really made me comfortable
made me forget I had no place to live
You asked where I wanted to go
I said I want to walk your road

I couldn’t see you, and I couldn’t see the road
You grabbed both me hands and wouldn’t let go
You asked what I was thinking
I said I want to let you be my master

I have a feeling that you aren’t made of iron
but you seem to be as forceful as iron
I felt that you had blood on your body
because your hands were so warm

This feeling really made me comfortable
made me forget I had no place to live
You asked where I wanted to go
I said I want to walk your road

I had a feeling this wasn’t a wilderness
though I couldn’t see it was already dry and cracked
I felt that I wanted to drink some water
but you used a kiss to block off my mouth

I don’t want to leave and I don’t want to cry
Because my body is already withered and dry
I want to always accompany you this way
Because I know your suffering best

That day you used a piece of red cloth
to blindfold my eyes and cover up the sky
You asked me what I could see
I said I could see happiness

(© Cui Jian
Translation by Andrew Jones, 1992) [Lyrics Link Here]

February 3, 2007 10:15 PM
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Categories: Culture & the Arts