Heat Waves: I’m Willing to Do Anything

Our Heat Waves summer series invites musicians to reflect on song lyrics that are lodged in their heads or hearts. This week, Chun Yin Rainbow Chan hits the karaoke bar, and discovers lost words and longing in Faye Wong's 'I'm Willing'.

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Animated graphic from Faye Wong music video

1 December 2017, 3.42am.

I am sitting at a karaoke bar called Party World with some new friends in Taipei. We’ve spent the night drinking beers and feasting on fried chicken. Everyone has a turn on the mic, leaking a year’s worth of sorrows in the guise of innocuous pop songs.

Within this rowdy drunken box, we have only a lyric guide on the TV screen as reality’s compass. Meaning is called into being by a bright neon blue, which bleeds across yet-to-be-sung words. Nothing exists beyond the colour’s edge.

It’s the last song of the evening, and the mic lands in my hands. Although I can speak Cantonese and some Mandarin, I struggle to read Chinese script, so the lyric guide doesn’t provide much help. In a panic, I choose Faye Wong’s 1994 hit, 我願意’ ('I’m Willing’), of which I know the melody and the hook; vestiges of my childhood in Hong Kong. (Two years later, when I was six, my family moved to Sydney.)

Within this rowdy drunken box, we have only a lyric guide on the TV screen as reality’s compass.

The song begins with a majestic flute run, softly accompanied by a string countermelody, and crescendoes into verse one with a cymbal roll. I am standing at the water’s edge, ready to jump in.

A spotlight, a dry throat.

Why does the instrumental version of a song you’ve heard a million times before sound abnormally bare? Without Faye Wong singing, I realise that I actually don’t know about 90% of the words. I hum my way through to the end and receive a polite applause. We say our goodbyes and go home separately.

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Of course, it’s not a big deal not knowing the lyrics to a song. But when you realise that you don’t even have the ability to partake in something in your mother tongue, a desire to return 'home' sets in. Determined to learn at least one Chinese song for the purposes of karaoke, I jump onto Google and pull up the lyrics, pinyin and English translation of ‘我願意’.

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I was once in an awkward social situation with a group of non-Chinese speaking friends, at an open mic karaoke bar in Hong Kong. They dominated the playlist with obnoxious English songs, and alienated the locals there. As they hollered 'Backstreet’s Back', I couldn’t help but notice the irony of the everybody in the song’s command to rock your body. I felt a sense of shame in both rejoicing in the every-baaa-dey chorus, and observing side-eye from the locals.




Chinese English (translation mine)
思念是一種 很玄的東西 reminiscence is a very mysterious thing
如影隨行 as a shadow accompanies one
無聲又無息 出沒在心底 noiseless and breathless, it haunts the bottom of the heart
轉眼 吞沒我在寂寞裡 and in a flash, I am swallowed up in loneliness
我無力抗拒 特別是夜裡 I have not the power to resist, especially at night
想你到無法呼吸 I miss you so much, I can't breathe
恨不能立即 朝你狂奔去 I hate that I can't immediately rush back to you
大聲的告訴你 So I’ll loudly let you know
我願意為你 我願意為你 I am willing for you, I am willing for you
我願意為你忘記我姓名 I am willing for you to forget my own name
就算多一秒 停留在你懷裡 just to linger in your arms for one more second
失去世界也不可惜 to lose the world would not be a shame
我願意為你 我願意為你 I am willing for you, I am willing for you
我願意為你被放逐天際 I am willing for you to be banished to the horizon
只要你真心拿愛與我回應 as long as you sincerely reciprocate with love
我什麼都願意 什麼都願意 I’m willing to do anything, willing to do anything
為你 for you



Animated graphic from Faye Wong music video

13 January 2018, 3.42am.

It’s the last day of my summer vacation in Taiwan. I am sitting at Party World with the friends I’ve made in Taipei. We’re drinking beers and feasting on fried chicken. Everyone has a turn on the mic, leaking secret desires and new year’s resolutions in the guise of innocuous pop songs.

It’s the last song of the evening, and the mic lands in my hands. The song begins with a majestic flute run, softly accompanied by a string countermelody, and crescendoes into the verse with a cymbal roll. I am standing at the water’s edge, and jump in.

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To my love, my mother tongue,

I’ve been swallowed up in loneliness. I’ve missed you so much I couldn’t breathe. But now I want to rush back to you … 

我什麼都願意, 什麼都願意, 為你.

Animated graphic from Faye Wong music video

Which song lyrics have stuck with you?

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Portrait of Chun Yin Rainbow Chan

Chun Yin Rainbow Chan works across music, performance and installation. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Sydney, Rainbow is interested in mistranslations, diaspora and the effects of globalisation on modern Chinese society.

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