A Holiday Gift…

The Washington Post‘s “Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide” goes into yaogun, and China, territory, somewhat unexpectedly. Under the guise of that most unhelpful of musical genre names “world music,” the article drops Cui Jian as a good gift for the musically-inclined international news-watcher in your life. But there’s a but here: The author points folks toward the album of young rockers’ covers of Cui Jian tunes, and this author would suggest – insist, really – that folks go right to the source and forgo the cover album.

We’d also be quick to add that bundling any Cui Jian music with a copy of Red Rock is really the best way to get the whole yaogun holiday thing happening.

While this particular blogger would recommend skipping anything remotely related to the Maotai liquor also suggested on this list, we will heartily second the Lao Gan Ma chili sauce recommendation.

A Yaogun Cover

It’s not often that yaogun tunes get covered. Back a few years, we had yaogunners take on Cui Jianwith mostly not-great results. Don’t get me started on rap-metal act CMCB’s butchery of “Nothing to My Name,” but let’s just say I might well be more partial to Michael Learns To Rock’s version. But I stumbled into a cover worth sharing…

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Cui Jian Branches Out, Again…

He’s been a star onstage for thirty-odd years now, so it’s only reasonable that Cui Jian, the inventor of yaogun, would opt to join the action on other sides of the stage. And the action in question is not his film forrays: in 2009, he was one of three directors that contributed segments to Chengdu, I Love You (which, by the by, debuted at the Venice Film Festival); his 3D concert film came out earlier this year; and his full-length directorial debut, Blue Bone, which tells the story of a young musician, is set for a 2013 release. No, Cui is looking to branch out into another place altogether…

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Liang Heping

via guitarsz.cn

I was just informed that Liang Heping was involved in a serious car accident a week ago; details are difficult to come by, but as of June 29, he remains in hospital with serious lower body injuries.

Liang has been involved in yaogun for just about as long as anyone could have been. A member of the ‘house band’ that backed up all of the singers on that yaogunnily-fateful May day in 1986, it was technically Liang that introduced China to yaogun: He played the first notes of the Song That Changed Everything, Cui Jian’s “Nothing to My Name,” at the Let the World Be Full of Love concert.

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Talkin’ yaogun with the Wall Street Journal

On a visit to Hong Kong earlier in the year to speak at the Asia Society, the Wall Street Journal sat me down to talk about a few tunes that represent yaogun’s evolution. Here’s me trying to sum up yaogun in three songs.

Suggestions for other representatives…?