»  Songs from Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream (1)


Songs from Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream (1)


•  Background

My 1996 novel Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream made two passing references to Chinese pop songs of the early 1970s, in both cases to songs sung by Frances Yip.

Ms. Yip — her Chinese name is 葉麗儀, Mandarin "Ye Liyi", Cantonese "Yip Leiyi" — is listed in Wikipedia as a Cantopop singer, which is to say, a singer of pop songs in Cantonese (the language of Hong Kong).

Cantopop only really came to prominence from the mid-1970s on, though. In the early stages of her career — the stages relevant to Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream — Frances Yip sang in Mandarin, and so at that point was a Mandopop singer.

The novel mentions two of her songs. This page concerns the first.

In Chapter 6, page 57, the narrator says that:

There was one song I particularly recall: "Can't forget our first love" — in Chinese, "Wo Nan Wang Wo Liang-de Chu-Lian." Many years later I discovered that the tune was "Bésame Mucho," but Miss Yip took it to places Los Paraguayos never knew.

This is that song, with a translation by me. If you can read Chinese, it's then a breeze to sing along to the tune. If you can't, I've included a pinyin transcription of the lyrics.

I got the Chinese lyrics from here. They show the first three words of the song as "我盼望"; and once the song is properly under way Ms. Yip does indeed sing "我盼望我兩的初戀." However, "盼望" (pàn wàng) means "look forward to," which seems wrong when the singer is reminiscing about something in her past. "盼望" is OK in the third verse, where she's looking forward to a bright tomorrow, but I think "難忘" (nán wàng), meaning "can't forget" would make more sense in these opening lines. My Chinese is not fluent, though; possibly I'm missing something.


•  Play the song


•  Chinese lyrics




有多少新願望引着我勇往向前 …
從前事, 從前事,

[Repeat previous five lines.]

[Repeat last two lines.]

•  Translation

I can't forget our first love,
So many dreams of love,
Those scenes just seem like yesterday.
Although you're already so far away,
So many things, so many things,
Keep me in this kind of enthrallment.

So many words from the heart,
So many lingering thoughts,
Keep me from getting involved.
Whether or not the one in my dreams is you, I still remember you with me,
That one unforgettable first love.

I look forward to a bright tomorrow.
There are so many new desires leading me forward fearlessly …
Now I'm beginning to drift again,
Former things, former things,
Go round ceaselessly in my brain.

[Repeat previous five lines.]

[Repeat last two lines.]

•  Pinyin transcription

Wo nan wang wo liang-de chu-lian,
Duo shao ge ai di meng,
Na qing jing jiu xiang zuo tian.
Ni sui yi na yang di yao yuan,
Duo shao shi, duo shao shi,
Hai gen we zhei ban qian lian.

Duo shao di zhen qing hua,
Duo shao di yi chan mian,
Zhei yang ba wo bie qian.
Meng zhong ren ni shi fou hai ji de ni he wo,
Na yi duan nan wang di chu lian.

Wo pan wang mei hao di ming tian.
You duo shao xin yuan wang yin zhe wo yong wang xiang qian …
Wo xian zai kai shi zai piao bo;
Cong qian shi, cong qian shi,
Bu ting zai nao hai hui xuan.

[Repeat previous five lines.]

[Repeat last two lines.]