Around two decades ago, a song called "I Am Ugly But Tender" swept through China like a strong gale. Music fans quickly fell in love with the masculine tenor and unswerving spirit behind the song. The owner, Taiwan's Zhao Chuan, or Chief Chao, became a household name across the country. Now, Chief Chao is poised to take off again, after a few years of silence, with a grand concert planned in Beijing in September. Xiaohua interviewed the singer and will take us on a trip through his music journey.
"I Am Ugly but Tender", "How Should I Express My Love to You", "I Am a Little Bird", "Be Brave", "The Fool Who Once Loved You"... all of Zhao Chuan's songs are filled with masculine strength and emotion.
"I Am Ugly but Tender" was the song that made Zhao Chuan famous, shooting this underground singer into the mainstream. In the last decade of 20th century, you could hardly walk down any busy Beijing street without hearing his special voice.
The lyrics say, "I am ugly but I've got a tender heart. I'm cold outside but fanatic inside, dim in daytime but immortal under the moonlight. I am ugly but I have beer and music with me. A little humble, a little cowardly, yet I never give up. On the vast stage, I shine with the dignity of life."
Zhao Chuan can not be called handsome, which is a big plus for this song. When he sings it, he looks unusually honest and brave with life.
I asked Zhao Chuan how the song was born.
"At that time, a Taiwan movie called 'I Have Words to Say' needed a rock song to go with it. It was a story about rebellious young people. I was with an underground band back then. The movie director believed my voice to be suitable for the song. At our first meeting, he sharply noted that I looked like two different people at different times, because I worked at a trading company by day ad played music at night. Thus we have the lines, 'Dim in daytime but immortal under the moonlight'. 'I Am Ugly but Tender' is sometimes interpreted in a superficial way. In fact, I just meant to call on people to insist on their uniqueness, which was part of my personality."
Zhao Chuan has been in the music scene for 18 years and released a total of 14 albums. Over the years, new faces and new songs come and go in musical circles, but Zhao Chuan's old tunes continue to throb in many people's hearts.
"I Am a Little Bird" took the country by storm in 1991, claiming the title for Best Album of the Year and the Best Song of the Year. It also won Zhao Chuan Best Male Singer of the year award. Zhao Chuan says "I'm A Little Bird" is one of his favorites. Every time he sings it, he gets excited.
The singer in this song asks, "When I decide to go for my dream, which is more important factor to consider —the pressure of living or the dignity of life?" Let's have a listen.
But Zhao Chuan disappeared from the scene at the peak of his musical career. Haunted by depression, the rock star lived as a recluse away from the public. The three year break gave him time to adjust. When he returned to the stage in 1999, Zhao Chuan created three new albums. The Fool Who Once Loved You, released in 2001, was the most popular.
Let's wind our musical tour through Zhao Chuan's soundscape with the title track from The Fool Who Once Loved You album.
Let's also wish Zhao Chuan's upcoming Beijing concert a great success.
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