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Democracy field notes

Cui Jian’s A Piece of Red Cloth…

‘Few Chinese, myself included, really knew what rock 'n roll was back then. But we knew it was something that gave out energy. It was music with a message.’

‘I performed at Tiananmen Square in 1989, 15 days before the crackdown. I sang A Piece of Red Cloth (一块红布), a tune about alienation. I covered my eyes with a red cloth to symbolise my feelings. The students were heroes. They needed me, and I needed them. After Tiananmen, however, authorities banned concerts. We performed instead at “parties,” unofficial shows in hotels and restaurants.’

Cui Jian.

‘That day you used a piece of red cloth to blindfold my eyes and cover up the sky. You asked me what I could see. I said I saw happiness.’

‘You asked me where I wanted to go. I said I want to walk your road. I couldn’t see you, and I couldn’t see the road.’

‘I had a feeling this wasn’t a wilderness, though I couldn’t see it was already dry and cracked. I felt that I wanted to drink some water. But you used a kiss to block my mouth. I couldn’t go, and I couldn’t cry 'cause my body is already withered and dry.’

Cui Jian’s A Piece of Red Cloth (yíkuài hóngbù)

‘Some people say that there are hidden meanings in my love songs, political meanings. I don’t want to say it that clearly because I don’t have to…Politics and love, in some ways, are one.’

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