I just bought tickets for the Sam Hui concert in Reno in December. My aunt is kind enough to go to the concert with me, since even the cheapest tickets are $88 (without any other taxes or service fees,” In your face, ticketmaster!”). He was very popular in Hong Kong the late 70’s, early 80’s for writing songs that were funny, relevant, and meaningful. I don’t understand all the lyrics, but he’s the only HK pop singer whom I’d pay to see perform. He’s come back out of retirement and touring, and attracting big crowds, so I have modestly high hopes for a good show. Well, I’m excited.
Sam Hui took many popular American tunes and wrote his own lyrics to them, among them: Oh Susanna, Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison) and Mother and Child reunion (Paul Simon). The last has lyrics lamenting the water rationing that was so common in Hong Kong in the 70’s.
While I was in Chinatown, I also wandered into a CD/DVD store, and found a couple of CDs that were essentially part of my childhood soundtrack: Boney M, a eurodisco group that was a popular as ABBA in Asia (I found out that their manager went on to put together ‘Milli Vanilli’) and a compilation of early 80’s TVB series’ theme songs with the likes of Liza Wang, Jenny, Roman Tam, Adam Cheng, and Frances Yip. (Also one song by Sam Hui, which I never realised was a TV show theme song.) I’ve been having the most intense musical flashbacks listening to the CDs, woohoo!
Back in those days, these songs were very well done and very popular, in a way American’s might think of crossover. Very few TV show theme songs become popular radio hits in the States, like the theme songs to ‘Greatest American Hero’ and ‘Friends’. But many of the TVB theme songs from the 80’s were getting airplay not just in HK radio, but through out SE Asia. You couldn’t eat in a Chinese restaurant in Bangkok without hearing Frances Yip belting out the theme from ‘The Bund’. “What does “lo-ong bun . . . lo-ong lao” (the first line of the lyrics) mean?” my Thai friends would ask me, because they knew I knew Cantonese.
If you want to hear some of these songs, you can catch them on
Hong Kong Vintage Pop