Sunday, June 12, 2011

Surrendering to the Flow of Time

Teresa Teng - Surrendering to the Flow of Time (1986)
Music: Takashi Miki
Lyric: Toyohisa Araki

Teresa Teng was bigger than Jesus in China. That's actually an understatement, since Jesus has never been all that big in China. She was bigger (and prettier) than Chairman Mao and Confucius combined. If you've spent any significant amount of time in a Chinese restaurant that plays Chinese music, you've heard Teresa Teng. All Chinese people like Teresa Teng. It's the law. (In fact, the law for most of the '80s was that her music was banned in China [just like Jesus!] because she was from Taiwan, but you know how that goes.)

While she was never quite the legend in Japan that she was in her native Taiwan and other Chinese-speaking countries, she was fairly popular, and had a string of major hits with songs written by Takashi Miki and Toyohisa Araki in the '80s, the most notable of which was "Surrendering to the Flow of Time," in which she ponders life without the man she loves:

Moshi mo anata to aezu ni itara
Watashi wa nani o shiteta deshou ka
Heibon da kedo dareka o ai shi
Futsuu no kurashi shiteta deshou ka
If I had never met you,
What would I have done?
Would I have fallen in love with another,
And led an ordinary life?
Toki no nagare ni mi o makase
Anata no iro ni somerare
Ichido no jinsei sore sae
Suteru koto mo kamawanai
Da kara onegai soba ni oite ne
Ima wa anata shika ai senai
Surrendering to the flow of time,
I am dyed through with your color.
For you, I would give up even
My one and only life.
So please stay by my side.
I can no longer love anyone but you.
Moshi mo anata ni kirawareta nara
Ashita to iu hi nakushite shimau wa
Yakusoku nanka iranai keredo
Omoide dake ja ikite yukenai
If I were forsaken by you,
There would be no more tomorrow for me.
I don't need a promise,
But I can't go on living with only memories.
Toki no nagare ni mi o makase
Anata no mune ni yorisoi
Kirei ni nareta sore dake de
Inochi sae mo iranai wa
Da kara onegai soba ni oite ne
Ima wa anata shika mienai wa
Surrendering to the flow of time,
I press my cheek to your chest.
Having become so close to you,
I don't need even my own life.
So please stay by my side.
I can no longer see anyone but you.

Teng also recorded a Chinese version called "I Only Care About You." I don't think I really made this clear in the translation, but I suspect that the lines about giving up her life are not about literally giving up her life, but rather about not feeling the need to live a life independent of her lover, as a sort of rejection of cultural feminism. I don't know enough about the history of feminism in Japan to know whether that's a reasonable interpretation.

Notes on Translation: I was considering just shortening the title to "Surrendering to Fate," but I'm not sure that "fate" is an accurate translation for 時の流れ. Also, most other translations of the song read 綺麗になれた as 綺麗に成れた, i.e., as "Having become pretty." That's never really sat right with me, so I tried out some other なれたs and thought that 綺麗に慣れた, i.e., "having become completely intimate with" made a bit more sense. I'm still not 100% sure, but I think I got it right. I took some liberties with 貴方の胸に寄り添い, since it doesn't acutally say anything about a cheek, but that's the picture I have in my mind, and I'm sticking with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment