Retrospective

by Sam C. Mac Music Retrospective

Retrospective | Cui Jian: ‘The World That’s Changing Longs to Never Change’

September 2, 2019

With U.S.-China tensions at the center of so much of our discourse, it seems as good a time as any to look at a figure who channeled those same fraught energies into something constructive and inspiring. A twentysomething living in Beijing in the 1980s, Cui Jian had survived Mao’s Cultural Revolution to see economic reform, and the ‘Open Door’ policy, come to China. Trained as a classical musician, he was a trumpeter for the Beijing Philharmonic when he first heard…

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by Sam C. Mac Music Retrospective

Cui Jian | Frozen Light

Cui Jian’s music paints pictures: “A Piece of Red Cloth,” an anthemic song that Cui performed during the Tiananmen protests, instantly summons images of the young rocker covering his eyes with the titular cloth, a gesture representative of what had become a ‘blinding’ socialist…

September 2, 2019
by Sam C. Mac Music Retrospective

Cui Jian | Show You Colour

If there’s any one quality that defines Cui Jian, it’s that he has never been content to be any one thing. Rock ‘n’ roll didn’t start with Cui — so he had to be a Chinese rock ‘n’ roller, fusing his own national identity…

September 2, 2019
by Sam C. Mac Music Retrospective

Cui Jian | Balls Under the Red Flag

By the mid-1990s, the political ambitions of what is known as the liumang generation — literally, “hooligans” — had devolved from a battle cry into feelings of wounded dejection, crushed under the weight of an intensified Chinese censorship, and the restricted freedoms enforced by…

September 2, 2019
by Sam C. Mac Music Retrospective

Cui Jian | Solution

Cui Jian’s status as a cultural icon was largely staked on the reputation of his first breakout song, “Nothing to My Name”: its progression from televised debut at a 1986 stadium show to anthem of the 1989 student protesters in Tiananmen Square. The song’s…

September 2, 2019
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