the moon represents my heart

My aunts and uncles are well aware of the con­flict I have with my par­ents. They’ve since become a sur­ro­gate fam­i­ly; the ones I call on Mother’s and Father’s Day, the peo­ple I vis­it when I go to Toronto.

With every cheque they send, my thank yous feel less and less mean­ing­ful. It’s dif­fi­cult to show how much I appre­ci­ate their love and accep­tance and sup­port when they’re well off and tend to have every­thing they could ever want or need.

One of them men­tioned Teresa Teng as a favourite singer dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion last year, and I real­ized a cov­er of one of her songs would be a befit­ting ges­ture. The arts were tight­ly con­trolled by the Chinese gov­ern­ment for 30 years and any song heard on the radio was either patri­ot­ic or polit­i­cal, until The Moon Represents My Heart was released in the late 1970s. It marked an impor­tant cul­tur­al shift when emo­tions were con­sid­ered puerile or bour­geois, and became a favourite among many gen­er­a­tions.

This song in par­tic­u­lar is well-known by peo­ple from all three China’s (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan), as Teresa Teng’s pop­u­lar­i­ty extend­ed beyond both bor­ders and dialects. She became a com­fort­ing famil­iar­i­ty when I was grow­ing up, as I would catch her voice float­ing in the back­ground no mat­ter where I went or who I vis­it­ed.

I’ve had my nylon-string and elec­tric gui­tars for years now, but depres­sion robbed me of the patience to do any­thing with them. Admittedly, the lofti­ness of my goals were also hold­ing me back. I kept try­ing to make com­mer­cial qual­i­ty tracks with­out ever hav­ing tak­ing a sin­gle les­son on sound engi­neer­ing or music pro­duc­tion; no won­der I kept get­ting frus­trat­ed every time I tried to cre­ate some­thing.

A cov­er with only two instru­ments and no singing seemed like a rea­son­able way to get com­fort­able with the mix­ing and mas­ter­ing process­es, as well as the intri­ca­cies of a pow­er­ful DAW. The tabs aren’t mine, but I added the solo sec­tion in the mid­dle so I could express the main melody in some fash­ion1.

I’ve come to accept con­tin­u­ous improve­ment over delayed per­fec­tion, main­ly because the delays always extend into infin­i­ty and I nev­er get any­thing done. I’m elat­ed (and relieved) to know that I man­aged to fin­ish a project I ini­ti­at­ed for myself with­out any pres­sure or dead­lines. It’s a sat­is­fy­ing reward after many days when I just want­ed to play a game for some instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion but pushed myself to prac­tice instead2, and years of bro­ken con­cen­tra­tion. I’m also glad to final­ly have a lit­tle sam­ple of the tones that I can coax out of my most recent acqui­si­tions of wood and steel.

  1. I’ve been try­ing to under­stand how some artists — like Ratatat — can cre­ate catchy but tech­ni­cal­ly sim­ple songs, since I’m too lazy to prac­tice shred­ding. []
  2. I can’t even begin to imag­ine how many times poor Heather was sub­ject­ed to hear­ing the same thing over and over again, and not often played well. []

One comment

  1. You’re so tal­ent­ed Jeff. I’m so so many ways…

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