Thursday, March 31, 2011
Recently, I have this fondness for Faye Wong’s music. When Faye Wong first launched her album, she was known as Shirley Wong and later on she took on the name, Faye Wong with many billboard hits that made her one of the heavenly queens in Hong Kong. At that time, I still could not connect with her songs or understand what she was rattling. I couldn’t even believe a song with no lyrics, basically noise and rhythm could hit top of the charts. I can still remember her with her signature make-up, like a Kabuki performer in concerts with packs of crowd following her. There was once when she was seated next to me at a dinner party in Hong Kong and we chatted, not knowing who she was. Obviously, I couldn’t recognize her without her colorful make-up till a friend from the next table asked how did I know her. I was even more uncomfortable when I realized who she was that was seated next to me and there goes my small talk with her that changes everything, from a stranger I met to a singer I know. Now having moved to China, winds of change after 10 years or more, I have been listening to Faye Wong's songs but sometimes not the words. I know, heresy. But it's the truth, I listen to her for the way she sounds and that includes the sound of the words. The literal meaning of the lyrics, or what people used to call the "message", is secondary, which is just one dimension of her art. In her folk-pop-culture ascendance, Wong's songs were scrutinized for coded messages; supposedly embedded "between the lines", its satirical ditty about the superficiality that makes her the Cold Queen as she is known. Her songs can be so cathartic that the spark tingle my bones like sexual voyeurism; songs too can stimulate us when it touches the soul or at least tacitly, if not often explicitly.