Sunday, January 6, 2013

Yesterday, Once More?

Yes, in China it is Yesterday Once More. It seems that a lot of the songs popular in my youth are just now charting in China.

The first year I was here and had to fumble for things to do in the classroom, I resorted to song lyrics. John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’ was the song of choice, seeing as the students wanted to go home and I was missing everyone and everything I had left behind. It dovetailed nicely with Thanksgiving, Christmas and the whole ‘being home with loved ones’ sentiment. I had no idea it was already an airwave mainstay over here, having been covered by a famous Korean chanteuse. Again I credit Serendipity’s gentle hand.

When Titanic made the scene here in its re-release from 10 years ago, it was all I could do to keep the kids from humming Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ throughout class. I took them to task by having them sing it, chorus style. They called my bluff by doing a beautiful job of it. Of course, they had to look at the lyrics they had downloaded to their cellphones. I don’t begrudge them that small cheat. In the end a good time was had by all, and that is all that matters.

Richard Marx’s song, ‘Waiting for You’ is now on the lips of every Chinese schoolgirl dreaming of romance. It was a staple back in the ‘80s, when I too was young and a romantic hopeful. I can relate to these girls. And I’ll add that, back in the 80’s, with that full head of hair and gruff voice I thought Richard Marx was quite the hottie. I’d have waited for him… *sigh!* Well, as long as I’m going down memory lane, I may as well share all of these memories!

Now we have The Carpenters’ Yesterday Once More. Ironic! For me, now regularly tuning in to Chinese radio stations and hearing all of these old favorites, it really is as the song says. From its very first line – “When I was young I’d listen to the radio, waiting for my fav’rite songs. When they’d play I’d sing along, they made me smile…” to the last ‘Shoobie Doo Wah!’ it is like a musical window to the past has been opened.

My students are impressed that I know all the words to all of these songs. In their eyes I’m a really hip, cool teacher to stay in touch with the times! When I tell them all the songs they are now just discovering are actually songs from my youth, and that I still remember all the words to them some thirty-plus years later, their reactions vary between being nonplussed to being in awe. They thought they were on to original, never-before-experienced-in-the-history-of –the-world sentiment! Their generation alone was exploring such deep matters of the heart! I hated to burst their bubble… kinda.

And now there is that Korean hit, Gangnam Style. For weeks it was all I heard about. Even Sam told me how impressive it is. I had to see this phenomenon for myself.

Come to find out, the Gangnam Style rhythm and dance moves are not new either. They’ve been done before, albeit a bit more tamely, in Grease: that scene where John Travolta and Olivia Newton John take the floor at the dance contest. I laughed like a loon, sitting in front of my terminal, watching the mock horse riding moves the dancers executed.

All of this ‘yesterday’ revisiting the airwaves here makes me feel like bursting out into a chorus of Barry Manilow’s “Maybe the Old Songs”. Maybe…

Maybe Barry has yet to be discovered over here. He can enjoy his forty-plus year career span all over again. Would he want to?       

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