Songs of the Week: “Goddess,” “The Square”

CDT is expanding its wiki beyond the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon to include short biographies of public intellectuals, cartoonists, human rights activists, and other people pushing for change in China. 

Li Zhi has a husky, soulful style. (Source: Li Zhi 李志/Facebook)

has a husky, soulful style. (Source: Li Zhi 李志/Facebook)

Folk rocker Li Zhi didn’t shy away from politics in his early work. He once wrote of censorship in China, “We’re like pigs, just sitting around and fighting with each other in the pen they put us in.” The singer-songwriter has enjoyed commercial success in recent years. As he has gone more mainstream, his work has become less political, but he has maintained an honest self-awareness and commitment to the independent music scene.

Two of Li’s earlier songs, “Goddess” and “The Square,” elegize the 1989 protests and their violent suppression around June 4 of that year. CDT has translated the lyrics to both:

Goddess

 

I have a friend, she’s 21
Always wears a white windbreaker
She lives behind a box
A photo hangs there
The people in the photo are inside the box
Each morning, a red diaper rises from a phallus
So she can’t see the people’s faces on the tombstones

This friend of mine,
she says she’s a treasure
Why did Daddy leave her here?
He says he’ll come back
He says he’s waiting
The blue ocean is quiet and distant
She survives on the fresh blood of the past
Waiting’s only brought a makeup-wearing hound

A house sits to the west
The spring brings applause
The shameless adults disgust her
A house sits to the east
The autumn brings laughter
The ignorant children disgust her, too
She’s in the corner, forgotten by the rich
Her clothes dirtied by the flowing colors of time

I have a friend
Sometimes I go see her
She never sees the color of the sky
This photo under the sky
Like the paper I use
I love it, I hate it, I feel sorry for it

Spectacular two-faced world uniting all living things

Another dizzy spell and the blood on the ground will disappear

The world is changing
My fucking ideals still can’t come true

The world is changing
My fucking ideals still can’t come true

My ideals are changing
This fucking world still can’t come true

Square

 

Where are you riding your scooter to?
You’re gliding in happy circles
They watch you and wish you the best
I used to have a face like yours

Now this square is my grave
This song will be your dirge
You’ll be taught to be a bad guy
A heartless, lazy dick

Please don’t trust his love
Dawn still hasn’t come
Please don’t believe he cares
His pistol’s pointed at your chest

Now this square is my grave
This song will be your dirge
You’ll be taught to be a bad guy
A heartless, lazy animal

La la la…

[Spoken]
Yesterday was like a dream
Flew by like a shooting star
I forgot about him
I forgot what those two hands did
I’ll never be so cocky again
I’ll never love you like that again
Suddenly, one day, I woke up
Outside, I saw a white cloud
A low-slung train flew by
And a leaf fell
I feel everything growing up
Everything growing old
Everything, just like you
Everything, just like me
Everything is just a dream
Those times are gone forever

Kill him
Stab him again
Fire
Killed him
Finished him
I still don’t believe it
Still don’t believe it
Killed him

I forgot about his hands

Read more about Li Zhi at our wiki, China Digital Space.

“Goddess” translated by Little Bluegill.