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Website & blog of Tuan Hoang, Pepperdine University

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The Vietnamese equivalent to the Beatles’ Yesterday

Comparisons of music in different languages and styles could be a hazardous affair.  Even at its best, a comparison could be pretty inexact because one could locate as many divergences and differences as parallels and similarities, if not more.  And the differences may be too strong to render similarities ineffectual.  With this caveat, I nonetheless wish to give this comparison a try.

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A few months ago, I suggested that the Vietnamese equivalent to Where Do I Begin?, the theme song of the movie Love Story, is a ballad by Trần Thiện Thanh about a young couple in wartime.  The song was based on a true story, albeit the deceased at the end is the man rather than the woman as in the novel and movie.  There was also temporal proximity, as the Vietnamese song was written and produced two or three years after the release of the sentimental American movie.  In other words, both songs came out of the early Seventies.

Continue reading “The Vietnamese equivalent to the Beatles’ Yesterday”

Song of war #1 – Một Mai Giã Từ Vũ Khí (Farewell to Arms)

There are different ways to build a top-ten list.  The way I employed for this list is twofold: pick the top song, then poke around to see if I could build a sensible list leading to this song.  When I first thought of this list, I knew right away which song I’ll put at the top.  My decision was pretty firm. It grew firmer when I made an important discovery that, as far as I know, has never been made by anyone before.

Continue reading “Song of war #1 – Một Mai Giã Từ Vũ Khí (Farewell to Arms)”

Song of war #5 – Căn Nhà Ngoại Ô (The Suburban House)

Here is the list so far:

10. Quê Hương Chiến Tranh
9. Tám Nẻo Đường Thành
8. Đưa Em Về Quê Hương
7. Đó! Quê Hương Tôi!
6. Tình Thiên Thu của Nguyễn Thị Mộng Thường

The toughest choice for me is the fifth one.  It didn’t take me long to settle on the songs above – or the fourth, third, second, and top songs.  (Two of the top five belong to Trịnh Công Sơn; can you guess which songs?)   For the fifth spot, I wanted to continue on the theme of romantic love and loss from selection #6.  I thought of several possibilities.

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photo courtesy khanhly.com

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Song of war #6 – Tình Thiên Thu (Eternal Love)

Of the ten songs on this list, this is the only one that tells a story.  It is based on a true story, now told in slightly different versions, about two young lovers in South Vietnam:  Phạm Thái and Nguyễn Thị Mộng Thường.  Because of its personal nature and the artistry of the lyrics and melody, this ballad has been very popular among Vietnamese. One should always be cautious with comparisons, but I am inclined to think of it as the Vietnamese equivalent of  “Where Do I Begin,” the theme song of the movie Love Story that came out two or three years earlier.

Tinh Thien thu cua Nguyen Thi Mong Thuong (Tran Thien Thanh) outside 1
Source: amnhacmiennam.blogspot.com

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Twenty Vietnamese songs on war and refugees

Bài lời Việt theo sau bài tiếng Anh. Hai bài hao hao nội dung nhưng không giống hẳn. The Vietnamese portion follows the English. I cater each language to different readers and they aren’t entirely the same.

April 30 was of course the climax of the fortieth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of mass Vietnamese migration to the U.S.  But there’s still a lot of the anniversary year left.

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April 30, 2015 in Little Saigon, Orange County

Tomorrow is the first day of classes at my institution, and I will continue to honor this anniversary by posting about Vietnamese music related to war and refugees throughout the fall semester and into the spring semester.

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