The Square, twenty-two years later

I had mentioned, in a previous post, and wrote, in Red Rock, of a four-song set that Cui Jian performed at Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989. Cui was not the only one to perform in the Square during the weeks and months leading up to June 4, but his is, as far as I know, the only performance caught on tape. There is a video clip, in the documentary The Gate of Heavenly Peace, of Cui Jian emerging from the bus carrying hunger strikers and being surrounded by fans, but the documentary doesn’t have footage of the performance.

A recording of the performance made the rounds a few years back, but was, soon after appearing, removed. I only just came across this Youtube clip that sets the audio from a portion of the gig to a montage of images. The song featured here is “Start Again” – which the band proceeds to do, taking a mulligan after a technical difficulty. Note that the subtitles here are not translations of the lyrics or what Cui is saying. Elsewhere on the recording, Cui says he came with only a slight chance of actually performing, just wanting to show support. Here, he references the chorus of “Start Again” in his pre-song chat to the gathered crowd:
“I don’t want to leave/I don’t want to exist/I don’t want to live so much in reality
I want to leave/I want to exist/I want to die and then do it all over again.”