Trinh Cong Son: The Bob Dylan of Vietnam

 

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Trinh Cong Son (Trịnh Công Sơn) (February 28, 1939 – April 1, 2001) was a Vietnamese composer, musician, painter and songwriter. He, along with Pham Duy and Van Cao, is widely considered one of the three most salient figures of modern (non-classical) Vietnamese music.

Trinh Cong Son wrote over 500 songs, and, during the 1960s and 1970s, Joan Baez dubbed him the Bob Dylan of Vietnam for his moving antiwar songs. He became one of South Vietnam's best-known singer-songwriters, after his first hit, Ướt mi (Tearing 'Lashes) in 1958. He was frequently under pressure from the government, which was displeased with the pacifist's lyrics of such songs as Ngủ đi con (Lullaby, about a mother grieving for her soldier son). After the reunification in 1975, Son was sentenced by the new communist government, to "retraining" in a labour camp after his family fled to Canada. However, he was eventually honored by the government and many officials sent their respects with floral tributes. His often melancholy songs about love and postwar reconciliation earned new acceptance and popularity in later years. Many of his songs have been re-licensed to Vietnamese music companies such as Thuy Ngaand Lang Van and sung by other artists. There are two singers' names often associated with Trinh Cong Son. One is Khanh Ly. The other one is Hong Nhung.

                                                                                          Singer Khanh Ly (R) and Trinh Cong Son

Khanh Ly, with her unique vocals, helped popularize Trinh Cong Son music in the early years. They often performed together in South Vietnam University Campuses. The voice and the music seemed to be inseparable.

Later on in his life, Hong Nhung, many years his junior, replaced Khanh Ly's place until his death.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at his funeral in Ho Chi Minh city, for a spontaneous ad hoc funeral concert, making such a spectacle the largest in Vietnamese history, next to the funeral procession of Ho Chi Minh. His music remains very popular among Vietnamese, old and young.

Source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinh_Cong_Son


Trinh Cong Son' Songs

Hò ho ho hó ho hò, con ngủ, ngủ đi con

Đứa con của mẹ da vàng

Ru con ru đạn nhuộm hồng vết thương

Hai mươi năm đàn con đi lính

Đi rồi không về, đứa con da vàng của mẹ
Ngủ đi con



Ru con, ru đã hai lần

Ôi tấm thân này ngày xưa bé bỏng

Mẹ mang đầy bụng mẹ bồng trên tay

Hò ho ho hó ho hò, sao ngủ tuổi hai mươi?



Hò ho ho hó ho hò, con ngủ, ngủ đi con
Đứa con của mẹ ra đời
T
rên môi vang vọng một lời đau thương

Hai mươi năm đàn con khôn lớn

Ra ngoài chiến trường, đứa con da vàng Lạc Hồng
Ngủ đi con



Ru con, nay đã phong trần
Ôi vết thương nào đục sâu da nồng
Thịt xương này mẹ nhọc nhằn hôm mai

Hò ho ho hó ho hò, sao ngủ tuổi hai mươi?

Hò ho ho hó ho hò, con ngủ tuổi hai mươi

Hò ho ho hó ho hò, sao ngủ tuổi hai mươi?

Hò ho ho hó ho hò, sao ngủ tuổi hai mươi?


English version by Nguyễn Vũ Thành


SLEEP, MY CHILD

Hò ho ho hó ho hò, please sleep, sleep, my child

The child of mum, yellow-skinned

Lulls you, lulls the bullet dyed your wound pink

Twenty years, a band of children went soldiering

Went, not to return, mum's yellow-skinned child

Sleep, my child

Lulls you, lulled you two times

Oh this body was formerly little and tender

Mum's belly was full, mum carried you on hands
Hò ho ho hó ho hò, why do you sleep at the age of twenty?
Hò ho ho hó ho hò, please sleep, sleep, my child

The child of mum was born

On lips a word of deep grief resounded

Twenty years, a children band grew up

Went to battlefields, the yellow-skinned child of Fairy and Dragon

Sleep, my child



Lulls you, now rolled in dus
t
Oh which injury carved into your warm skin deeply
This bone and flesh mum wearied from dawn till dark morning and evening

Hò ho ho hó ho hò, why do you sleep at the age of twenty?
Hò ho ho hó ho hob, my child sleep at the age of twenty

Hò ho ho hó ho hò, why do you sleep at the age of twenty?

Hò ho ho hó ho hò, why do you sleep at the age of twenty?

 

Alternative English version by Frank Duong

HUE, SAI GON, HA NOI


Oh, Hue Saigon Hanoi, my country,

why are you so far away still?

Hue Saigon Hanoi, so many years have gone by,

why are you still so indifferent?

Oh Vietnam, for how much longer

Must people still sit missing one another?

Millions my feet, millions your feet,

All those people who rise for the call of revolution

It's time for linking our hearts together,

All us youths, let's be the pioneers

All over Central South and North, waiting eagerly,

all those bundles of rice are symbols of freedom

The roads now lead to the prisons
tomorrow let us build schools and market places
Our people shall return to cultivate and ensure all are well clothed and fed.

All hands will work for the nation,

All hands will build, let the memory of hatred and pain fade away



We will keep building our houses, our gardens will prosper,
Let me go up the hill to sing with joy

North, South and Centre, let us unite and be one region again

All three frontiers open, roads built and peace returns to the country

Hue Saigon Hanoi, for 20 years, the cries of misfortune,
Hue Saigon Hanoi, in our hands, the heart of Vietnam

Bullets and bombs, human greed, what war machines destroy our kind

Oh Vietnam, stop dreaming, look forward and get rid of hatred

Let's wipe off all past sadness,



Tomorrow, all roads linking South and North covered with flowers
Loving hands and hearts with no frontiers

Brothers let's listen to all the love

The big joy shall pass hundred of bridges

The mother will enjoy the betel nuts
Watching the two regions sharing the peace with hearts filled with warmth

Day in the South, night in the North,
Eyes taking in all the changes, seeing the sweet dawn breaking

Horses flying past with the wind, hearts beating with the galloping noises
Let us stand up in freedom

North South and Centre in deep love;

Stepping out together jointly building our shared thatched house.

Do wipe off all signs of past sadness,



Tomorrow all South North roads will be covered with flowers
Hands of love, hearts of no frontiers, brothers lets listen to the love,

The big joy shall pass hundred of bridges

Mother will enjoy the betel nuts

Watching the two regions sharing the peace with hearts filled with warmth

Day in the South, night in the North,

Eyes taking in all the changes, seeing the sweet dawn breaking



Horses flying past with the wind,

Hearts beating with the galloping noises

Lets us upraise in freedom

North South and Centre in deep love;

Stepping out together jointly building our shared thatched house.

(Contributed by Riccardo Venturi)

Source: http://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=5548&lang=en

 

Ngủ đi con Performed by Hồng Nhung