Rock 'n' roll godfather aims to spread the music

Updated: 2013-05-09 09:04

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

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The trumpeter for the Beijing Symphony Orchestra has since proven that he has more to offer than Nothing to My Name.

There were more than 150 uses of the single-letter word, "I", in Cui's first album, Rock 'n' Roll on The New Long March released in 1989, which challenged the traditional Chinese culture of modesty.

"We rarely talk about 'I', my love and my hatred," Cui says. "Cui Jian is just one person but what I wanted to talk about is a whole generation instead of just me."

He says today's young music listeners are living in a world that is commercially presented by record companies and performance companies.

"They have no time to think about what they are watching and listening to," he says.

Cui insists that rock music should belong to the mainstream instead of having to struggle underground. His first album was named the best album of the year by mainstream newspapers in China in 1989. His concerts were packed.

"I saw the most beautiful crowds in my show in 1986. I sang while walking among the audience, who followed me like a huge wave," he recalls.

"Back then, Chinese audiences were conservative and very quiet while watching performances. But when I saw a 40-year-old scholar wearing glasses shaking his body at my concert, I was so amazed," he says.

For Cui, applause is not a priority in his shows. When he released his third and fourth albums, which were full of his musical experiments, some fans couldn't accept the songs, which were different from Nothing to My Name.

"I was asked to stop performing because the audiences didn't like it," says Cui. "But it never bothers me. Observing the society and talking about social problems make me excited."

Like Bob Dylan who incorporated a variety of political, social and philosophical ideas into his music; U2 singer Bono who is involved in charity; and John Lennon who promoted the message of peace; Cui says a musician who pays attention to an issue for a long time will lead to positive chain reaction.

"I watch a lot of movies so I want to make my own movies," he says. "Rock 'n' roll music is not considered serious. Though we have a huge population, we don't have rock idols today. We need to think about this."

Rock 'n' roll godfather aims to spread the music

Rock 'n' roll godfather aims to spread the music

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