Zhou Yunpeng 周云蓬, 38, is a poet and folk singer based in Beijing. He went blind when he was nine. His last image of the colored world was the elephant in a zoo playing harmonica. This became an inspiration for him to write songs and sing later in his life. He likes to describe pure beautiful nature like a paradise, but he often reminds readers of the coldness of the external world and the struggle within a man’s heart. His language floats like water, his voice is rich and calm. The song below reflects several tragic news events. The helpless and angry tone represents a powerful social and cultural critique from the compassionate artist. Listen here. Music from Sogou, Lyrics translated by CDT:
Don’t be a child of Shalan town, you wouldn’t fall asleep under the inky black water
Don’t be a child of Henan parents, AIDS in the blood laughs out loud
Don’t be a child of Shanxi parents, your father would become a basket of coal and you would never see him again
Don’t be a child of Chinese, when they starve they would eat you
They’re worse than the old goat in the wilderness, whose eyes might become aggressive to protect their little ones
Don’t be a child of Chinese, the parents are all too weak
To prove their hearts are as hard as iron and stone, when death is imminent, they save their leaders first.
Another song by Zhou, called Empty Cup, goes like this:
Children go out to play, haven’t returned
Old men go to sleep, haven’t awakened
Only middle-aged men sit lost in thought
Night falls, lights come on, time for home
Children dream of their own children
Old men think of their grandmas
Only middle-aged men are busy planting wheat
Growing and deteriorating, the flowers have bloomed
Turned to dust, turned to dust
Grown, turned to dust
Flowers bloomed, turned to dust
Water ran for ten years, turned to dust
Clouds floated for ten years, turned to dust
Read some Chinese critiques of Zhou’s music at here, here and here. His profile is on the Southern Weekend.
Another music video based on Zhou’s music and story of missing children of Shanxi brick kiln.